Let me start by saying that people don’t just decide to have an eating disorder. I think this is a common misconception: that people sit around planning to be sick in that way. I can’t speak for all, but I know that for myself (and many others that I know personally), this is not how I came to be ill with an eating disorder. For me, I think there were many factors at play that all just happened to fall into place-just the right place for me to develop a deadly disease that isn’t curable with a pill and often goes unnoticed and misdiagnosed.
For me, I have a specific point in time in which I define myself as “being in recovery” versus the time in which I was “sick.” I entered my last treatment 8 years ago. I went into that treatment center willingly. I searched out options, made all the phone calls, and flew alone 1,500 miles to a hotel. The next morning, I got a taxi to the center where I’d work with a team of people who’d help me begin on my road to recovery. And as honky-dory as that sounds, it really wasn’t. I mean, I look back with fondness, but the truth is, I did not like my team when I arrived. I disagreed with their decisions, and while I wanted to be well, I had my own ideas about how I would reach that goal. Needless to say, my plan went their way, and in retrospect, I agreed.
The process of healing and the road of recovery is long and often torturous, to be brutally honest. But it is SO worth it, my beautiful friends. It’s worth it in the long run, even if the road is dark, there are no street lights, and there is no map or GPS. The destination is worth the travel. So having said all of that, a common question that I hear from those in recovery and from those who are intuitively eating is: How do I know if I’m eating healthy and listening to my body or being obsessive and putting myself on a diet?
First and foremost, where is the desire coming from? Are you choosing to have a chicken salad with fruit cup and smoothie because it feels good and it’s what you are actually craving? Or have you been listening to outside sources that have been influencing your choices lately? Has your Facebook timeline been flooded with “healthy” ideals? Have you randomly been finding yourself seeking out nutritional information before or after consuming something? Has your friend been ranting on about her clean eating ways that have helped herr lose X pounds? What has been influencing your decisions as of lately?
What have your primary emotions been? Over the past week/month, have you been mostly optimistic and feeling great in your skin and life? Or have you been going through a daunting time, feeling somewhat down or depressed? Have you been struggling with getting through your days in general?
During those time where you notice yourself desiring only healthful or clean foods, ask yourself the above questions. WHERE IS THE DESIRE COMING FROM? And are your food choices still in balance? It’s perfectly okay to have a salad for an entrée. But if you have a salad all the time without variety in your eating or you’re choosing a salad to make up for having eaten something else, then there’s an issue to be addressed.
And keep in mind that your friends may talk, partake in, and post about all their “healthy” eating habits or specific diets, whatever that may be (clean eating, vegan, Whole30, etc.), but that doesn’t mean that those eating habits are actually healthy or balanced. It doesn’t mean that those are the right choices for your body. If it were up to me, there wouldn’t be diets of any kind. We’d all listen to our bodies and choose the foods we feel are best for us in each moment.
All that to say, keep your head up, girl! (Or boy!) You got this! Recovery ain’t easy, so don’t let anyone tell you that it is. But you got it, I totally believe in you!