A lot of the time when people discuss eating disorder recovery it’s through progress pictures, sober dates, or they celebrate their recovery in some way that’s personal to them…which is great! It’s important to celebrate recovery, essential even. But, there is a side to eating disorder recovery that many people don’t see and this can affect over half the people diagnosed with an eating disorder (ED). Only 50% of people with an eating disorder recover and even fewer fully recover. Most people who suffer from ED will suffer from eating disorder thoughts on a daily basis for the rest of their lives…but this isn’t a death sentence.
ED Mortality Rate
Patients who will die by 10 years of the onset of a ED
The first thing you need to know about eating disorder recovery is the removal of thoughts doesn’t come before the removal of the disorder. The first thing that a patient must do is regulate their eating, there is no choice between indulging in the disorder and then working on the cause, regulated eating always comes first. I say regulate because people can suffer from several types of ED’s and not all are starvation based. Click here to learn about the different types of eating disorders. I know this sounds counterproductive but in any treatment program, you will find this at the very beginning. You must be in a stage of recovery where you are willing to actively participate in the program.
I mentioned the beginning of treatment because it’s a lot like after treatment. ED thoughts such as body checking or calorie counting will often be at the forefront for the rest of your life, the point in treatment is to learn how to deal with these thoughts rather than remove them. Of course, with therapy and support from your treatment team, you will learn your core beliefs and causes of the disorder which will in turn help decrease these thoughts and in some cases remove them altogether.
Percent of Men who represent the ED community
Athletes with ED
Canadians who suffered from an ED in 2005
For many of you who are dealing with an ED, you know that calorie counting and other ED behaviours are sort-of automatic. Knowing the calories in an apple is common knowledge, body checking can sometimes not be avoided, eating large amounts of food can just be a part of life. When someone suffers from an eating disorder for a long time they start to do these things without even realizing, which is why mindfulness is such an important aspect of recovery.
I really wanted to post this today because I’ve been struggling with my eating again recently. About two years ago I would have described my ED as fully recovered, meaning I didn’t get thoughts or ED impulses. However, after being hospitalized for my addiction I was put under observation again for Anorexia. I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t eating, I just didn’t eat. Then a couple years went by and I still figured I was recovered. Recently, I started to struggle again with calorie counting and restriction. For a couple weeks I restricted my calories to an extreme level, knowing that I was going down the road to ED I decided to spend some time at my girlfriend’s house where I could be monitored. I’m happy to say I am eating regularly again, however, I still struggle with the daily urges to restrict or purge.
This really opened my eyes again to the fact that an ED doesn’t really just go away. I was talking to a friend today about how I don’t think life gets better, I think we just learn how to deal with it and after having this conversation I connected the thoughts to ED recovery. The urges are likely to still be there but we can move on and cope with them. A lot of people think this is a death sentence and that they are doomed, but it can actually be quite peaceful and a happy life can be achieved after recovery with the thoughts still in mind. Having an eating disorder takes over your entire life but coping with one doesn’t.