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8 Compelling Reasons to Recover From an Eating Disorder

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • When you have an eating disorder, it can be hard to fully realize its physical and emotional impacts on your life. 
  • Recovering from an eating disorder can improve your mental and physical health, relationships with loved ones, self-esteem and body image, and relationship with food and exercise. 
  • Most importantly, know that you are worthy of recovering from your eating disorder and treating yourself with compassion. 

When you have an eating disorder, it can dominate your thoughts and feel like the center of your life. During your treatment journey, it can be helpful to take a step back and recognize why recovery is important. 

Recovering from an eating disorder means prioritizing your health and well-being and learning how to have a positive relationship with food and your body image

Continue reading for a list of reasons to recover from an eating disorder. You can reference this list when you’re having a hard day and use it to motivate you to continue with treatment.

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1. Improve Your Mental Wellbeing

An eating disorder can impact your mental well-being in many ways. When your brain isn’t getting the fuel it needs, it can become difficult to concentrate on tasks like working or studying. Your sleep can also be disrupted, further impacting your mental health. 

It's also common for other mental health conditions to co-occur with eating disorders, like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sometimes these conditions are present before the eating disorder, and other times they result from the distress caused by behaviors like binging and restricting. 

Recovering from an eating disorder involves psychotherapy to stop the eating disorder behaviors and to improve mental health and well-being. You’ll learn coping tools to help you regulate emotions and handle triggers

2. Strengthen Relationships 

Eating disorders can be very isolating. This can be for many reasons, from not wanting loved ones to notice eating disorder behaviors or symptoms to avoiding social events where food will be present. One aspect of recovery is allowing your loved ones to help and support you through the process. 

Many people also gain meaningful connections through eating disorder recovery support groups. Talking to peers going through the same thing as you can be a healing experience. 

Recovering from an eating disorder gives you the freedom to enjoy the company of your family and friends and not be preoccupied with thoughts about food and body image.

3. Increase Self-Esteem and Confidence 

Self-esteem and eating disorders are related, with research showing that restrictive eating, binge eating, and poor body image are predictors of low self-esteem. Other studies show that preexisting low self-esteem is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder. 

It’s common for people with eating disorders to falsely believe they are not worthy of acceptance or to have body image concerns. Though it can be hard to believe when you have an eating disorder, know that you are worthy of recovering and treating yourself with love. 

Eating disorder treatment teaches skills like self-love and compassion to help combat negative self-talk and build confidence. You can learn to view yourself in a positive light and treat your body with kindness.

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4. Enhance Your Physical Health

Though an eating disorder can skew a person’s perspective, encouraging them to believe their behaviors are in the pursuit of health, medical complications can often come up as an eating disorder progresses. 

Eating disorders can impact many different parts and functions of the body, like the heart, digestive tract, brain, and hormones, and cause issues such as:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Slow heart rate. 
  • Electrolyte imbalance. 
  • Constipation
  • Fainting. 
  • Hypothyroidism. 
  • Loss of menstrual cycle. 
  • Malnutrition. 

Eating disorder recovery improves your physical health by preventing new related health concerns from developing and reversing or slowing the progression of present complications. 

Research shows people who participate in eating disorder treatment earlier in their journey rather than later experience fewer physical complications and a greater chance of recovery. 

5. Access New Opportunities 

It may not feel like it, but having an eating disorder keeps you from moving forward in life. Time you don’t spend fixating on food can be channeled toward excelling at work, getting your degree, or working on self-care. 

Recovering from an eating disorder frees your mental space and helps with physical healing so you can say yes to new opportunities and feel strong in your day-to-day life.

6. Enjoy Food Intuitively 

Intuitive eating is a method taught in many eating disorder recovery programs. It involves learning to trust your natural hunger and fullness cues to guide your eating rather than external things like portion sizes and calories. 

Intuitive eating is centered on making peace with food, which means avoiding restrictive diets and “off-limits foods.” This step of recovery can be incredibly freeing because it means that you can ditch the guilt and enjoy food again. 

Research shows that having greater intuitive eating skills is associated with experiencing less:

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7. Create a Healthy Relationship With Your Body 

Body image concerns and body dysmorphia are common characteristics of eating disorders. It can be exhausting to be consumed by negative thoughts about your appearance, body size, and shape.

In many cases, these thoughts are fuel for disordered eating behaviors like restricting food or purging. 

Eating disorder treatment focuses on your relationship with your body, helping you accept your body and feel comfortable in your skin.

Having a healthy relationship with your body also applies to exercise. Eating disorders can involve unhealthy exercise habits, like excessive physical activity or extremely rigid plans that are viewed as a “punishment.”

Recovering from an eating disorder means you can shift the focus to “joyful movement” or doing activities that feel good to your body and make you happy. 

8. Improve Overall Quality of Life 

When your thoughts and actions are all based around food, eating, and your body size, it doesn’t leave much mental space for enjoying life

Recovering from an eating disorder can improve your quality of life in many ways. Imagine going out with friends and not worrying about what and how much you’ll eat. Or being able to enjoy gentle exercise without it feeling like a punishment. 

And finally, eating disorder recovery means you can learn to love and enjoy food again

Takeaway

Eating disorders can impact mental health, physical health, and quality of life. It’s often hard to see this while actively experiencing an eating disorder. If you’re contemplating seeking treatment or need motivation to recover, consider how recovery will change your life. 

Eating disorder recovery frees up mental space, improves physical health, supports mental well-being, encourages a healthy relationship with food, and can benefit your overall quality of life. 

How a Dietitian Can Help

Whether you have an eating disorder, are in recovery, or are experiencing a relapse, working with a dietitian specializing in eating disorder treatment can help you improve your relationship with food and remember why recovery is important. 

Find a dietitian who accepts insurance through Nourish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why recover from ED?

An eating disorder can significantly impact your health and overall quality of life. Though it may be difficult to visualize a life where food and body image don’t dominate your thoughts, recovery is possible. 

Recovering from an eating disorder means you will have the mental space and physical health to treat yourself with compassion, maintain relationships with loved ones, seek new opportunities, and enjoy food again.

How do you deal with triggers in anorexia recovery?

A trigger is something that causes a negative emotion, and in eating disorder recovery, a trigger can sometimes cause an individual to resume disordered eating or exercise behaviors. The best way to deal with triggers in anorexia recovery is to work with a therapist to identify your triggers and learn healthy coping mechanisms to practice instead. 

For example, perhaps seeing a social media post about dieting or weight loss makes you feel like you should start restricting your food intake again. Rather than engaging with this thought, try to find a way to cope, like using a deep breathing exercise or calling a loved one.

References

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