It’s a tricky thing, eating disorder recovery.
You’ve likely heard the comparison between eating disorder recovery and alcoholism recovery. You can quit alcohol, but you can’t just quit food.
People with eating disorders, including me, often have a touch of addiction and anxiety in their personalities. While alcohol abuse has never been tempting for me, food is definitely a way that I cope. Part of living in recovery is finding ways to avoid that (I take SSRIs to help) and for me its a delicate balance between eating healthfully and exercising for the sanity and endorphins, but also indulging and relaxing.
Nutrition during eating disorder recovery is whole other tricky subject deserving of its own post. There are so many different stages of recovery and everyone’s recovery is different — from those that are purely in need of calories so their body will function, to those that struggle more with the fear food orthorexia spectrum, to plenty others.
I recovered from my full blown Anorexia over six years ago. It’s really strange to me that that sick girl was even me. I am so different now. Since then I’ve definitely had some stressful times that have led my anxiety and addiction driven personality to use food for control and coping again. Though I didn’t have any fear foods, I wasn’t eating enough and my metabolism was damaged. Thankfully I nipped that issue in the bud last summer and am completely healthy right now.
So me, right now, is just me. I am not my eating disorder.
It’s kind of funny, the difference between “online Clare” and real life Clare. I talk about eating disorders and recovery on this blog because I get lots of questions and emails from readers that bring up interesting topics. I like using my past and current experiences to share encouraging and important messages. But I’m not necessarily struggling with those issues when I write about them. Perhaps in the past I was. They are always good reminders to me regardless.
In real life, I’m just Clare. My friends and family don’t care what I eat or when I work out. I go to restaurants and order whatever I feel like. I’m allowed to not be hungry or to be overly full or eat salad or eat cookies or go for a run or just lay on the couch. I’m allowed to have bad body image days or not care what I look like or complain that something doesn’t fit right. All without judgment or ridicule. I’m a normal girl. It all balances out.
It’s important to me to not be defined by my eating disorder. It’s something I’m hugely passionate about and has helped shape who I am, but a big part of living in recovery for me is just being normal. Choosing salads when I could use some veggies because I know they make me feel good. Having weeks when I eat pretty healthfully, and then have beer and fudge on the weekends. Trying recipes, whether for a vegan snack or a chocolate cake. Wanting to feel my best. Taking care of my body by feeding it nutrient rich foods, but also not worrying if I get a few chemicals or fun foods in there too. Those are for the soul.
I think it’s important to show on this blog that after recovery, or perhaps while living “in recovery”, you can just eat normally. Just because you used to have an eating disorder doesn’t mean you have to be eating indulgent, rich foods all the time. Perhaps at one point in recovery that is a necessity, but not forever. That’s not a healthy way to live either.
The more and more I don’t think so hard about what I eat, the farther and farther removed I become from my eating disorder, and that’s a great thing. I will always be living “in recovery”, and I don’t by any means think I’m immune to more issues in the future, but I hope that I can make my eating disorder just a part of my past.