Monday, August 21, 2017

5 Things that Have to No Place in Eating Disorder Recovery

Recovery is a bumpy road, and there are often unexpected twists and turns, even with significant support. It's important during this process - and I might argue always and even for those without eating disorder histories -  to avoid cultural trends that can exacerbate symptoms or interfere with full recovery. The following are several examples that I have seen obstruct the recovery process:

1) Waist trainers: You don't need to "train" your waist. Recovery is about training your mind to be more body neutral - or even accepting - than it is about trying to manipulate any body part.

2) Macros, keto meal plans, Paleo, and more: If you are following a certain meal plan that excludes or significantly limits certain foods in favor of others that are judged to be "healthier" or better for weight-control, then you are continuing to do your eating disorder in disguise. Eating in recovery is flexible and varied and allows access to all foods, particularly those that diets tend to shirk.

3) Cleanses/detoxes: These are weight-loss gimmicks that can lead to relapse. Your body naturally detoxes on its own, and cleanses and detoxes are unnecessarily restrictive and can lead to sustained restriction or backfire in the form of binge eating.

4) Food scales: If you're weighing your food, you're not relating to food in a natural and transferable way. This inflexible approach won't get your far in your recovery journey, as it retains the rigidity of the eating disorder mindset and prevents exposure to more adjustable eating patterns, such as spontaneous snacks or restaurant meals.

5) Fitness trackers: Recovery should focus on intuitive movement, rather than exercise that is numbers-based or focused on burning calories. Especially in early recovery, counting anything (and then making behavioral decisions based on these numbers) ignites the eating disorder brain and can trigger relapse. Fitness trackers place too much emphasis on numbers, robbing us of our natural desire to move our bodies in flexible and creative ways.

Can you think of any others to add to this list?

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at


Amy said...

I am identifying with these. I have been trying to eat lower carb but not feel guilty for eating something higher carb from time to time, thinking I am fooling my brain. Truth is, I still have this nagging feeling, when I'm not eating low carb, that I need to get "back on track" with my eating. I also wear a pedometer and try to hit 10,000 steps a day but my exercise consists of walking the dog because he needs to get out. I am the queen of quasi-committed and all I'm doing is frustrating myself.

Unknown said...

eating disorder is more common than people think and it is also very suffocating. I have been through this and the constant feeling of not being worth was killing me slowly. But I read some article and got some help to recover myself from it.