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The Truth about Eating Disorders Recovery


Do you want to know why you still have your food problems after years of struggling to end them? You might not understand why, but I do, all too well. The answer is actually quite simple. As I write in The Real Reasons You’re Not Becoming a “Normal” Eater, you are not consistently doing all you are advised to do to recover. 

To your credit, many of you are in therapy, attend regularly, and are changing in many areas of your life. You’re thinking and acting differently to generate the changes. Nearly all clients make interpersonal changes more easily than food ones. For instance, maybe you’re getting along better with your mother/colleague/son/spouse because you’re letting more of their remarks slide when you used to become defensive or challenge them more often. 

Many of you have underlying anxiety or depressive disorders. Some of you are trauma survivors. And most have suffered from childhood abuse or neglect. This puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to eating disorders recovery. You need to erase the harm caused by these factors which impact your relationship with food—to recover from trauma, grow your self-trust, re-regulate your nervous system, detach emotionally from troubling memories and, above all, learn and practice the heck out of new life skills.

And there’s the rub, acquiring new skills by practicing them. You need to change your brains, not just your eating. Get it? Brain, not eating—and certainly not weight. That’s what you want to be thinking every minute: How can I change my brain? You do that by consciously making decisions and consistently doing one behavior more than another. 

I’ve recommended the same books repeatedly to clients and they remain unread, the same online courses which remain untaken. I encourage (nag?) them to learn how to meditate to de-stress or take an online mindful eating workshop. Sometimes they start books and courses and don’t do the homework. Or don’t finish them. They tell me they’re afraid they’ll fail at trying something new, lose interest or don’t have the time. I tell them that if they have the time to binge, they have the time to read or take a course. 

If you’re unwilling to do what science and experts tell you will speed your recovery, you will, without a doubt, stay the same and should adjust your expectations accordingly. It really is as simple as that. Clients who recover follow (at least) some recommendations. If you don’t believe you’re worth caring for, then focus on that issue to develop self-worth. I want you to recover but I can’t make it happen. No therapist can. Only you can. And if you’re not ready yet, there’s no shame in that. Figure out how to become ready.