My Recovery from Disordered Eating

Recovering from disordered eating or an eating disorder is not easy. Personally, it took me years to fully recover, and it’s only in the last year or two I’ve found my relationship with food has healed and I now feel I eat a truly balanced diet. The four steps below are my personal experience. Everyone is different and may experience recovery differently. I hope by talking about my recovery it will raise awareness and inspire others to heal themselves or seek help if needed.

For those of you who don’t know what disordered eating is you can find out on my blog post ‘Disordered eating : what it is and my experience with it’ here.

Step 1 : Recognition

The first step to recovering from disordered eating is realising you are actually experiencing it. Although at the time I was experiencing disordered eating I didn’t know what it was, I knew something wasn’t right. Symptoms can come in all shapes, sizes and severities. Personally the biggest signs for me were:

  • Food rules (I completely cut out refined carbohydrates from my diet)
  • Rigid rituals around exercise (I would go to the gym everyday and if I didn’t I felt guilty)
  • Feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating (this was when I ate carbs or ‘unhealthy foods’)
  • Preoccupation with food, weight and body image that negatively impacts quality of life (I would feel anxious about, or miss, social events, especially if there was food).
  • Using exercise, food restriction, fasting or purging to “make up for bad foods” consumed. This was huge for me, I used to exercise to burn the calories I ate (which I counted at every meal / snack). I even once tried to make myself sick because of some ‘bad food’ I ate (turns out I have a pretty good gag reflex… 😏).

Step 2 : Accepting it

For me accepting it was telling someone about it. I knew people could see I wasn’t well but it wasn’t until I started to say it out loud to people I actually started to accept it myself. The first person I properly opened up to about it was my very good friend Elspeth. Elspeth was amazing about it, so supportive and someone I could really tell how I was feeling, with absolutely no judgement. Once I had started to be more open about my problem, with Elspeth and other friends, I wanted to change it.

Step 3 : Wanting to change

To change, you’ve got to truly want to change. I was lucky, as soon as I knew I had a problem and accepted it, and I wanted to change it. I wanted to go back to the happy-go-lucky girl who didn’t think twice about what or when she was eating.

I tried so many different things. I tried being a vegan and vegetarian. I tried fasting. I tried eating high-protein and low-fat. The issue? I was still restricting myself in one way or another. Years passed and I couldn’t let go of the thoughts around my body image. I was scared to put on weight.

Step 4 : Changing my belief system

All of the above (what I tried in step 3) are actions. And actions stem from beliefs. I believed that if I put on weight, I would be unattractive.* Although my actions changed, my belief system didn’t. All the actions were still revolved around the fact that I didn’t want to get ‘fat’.

For me, changing my belief system was the hardest step, as I think it would be for most people. I wanted to change my relationship with food but how? I realised that it wasn’t my relationship with food, but my relationship with my body that had to change. I had to start accepting my body for what is was. I started writing lists about the things my body could do, things I liked about my body, things my body had achieved. It took a long-time, and it wasn’t smooth sailing, but I soon realised my body is on my team. It does amazing things everyday without me even asking. I started to work with my body.

*This stemmed from a bad break-up where I was cheated on. Coupled with the increasing popularity of social media (and therefore comparison) I believed at the point of the break-up I wasn’t attractive. Queue the disordered eating.

(The Final) Step 5 : Working with my body

Emma Carr nutrition and health coach eats a piece of cake with a smile on her face

I’m not 100% what came first, accepting my body, or studying to be a nutrition and health coach. What I do know is that studying to become a nutrition and health coach also helped heal me. I realised all these years I’d been punishing my body, and for what? It was time to work with my body and give it the best nutrients I could, both on and off the plate.

My food focus shifted to eating the best possible foods for my body. I focused on nutrients. Because of this, it didn’t matter if I ate something ‘unhealthy’ because I was eating so well the rest of the time. I let go of all the food rules and for the first time since my early twenties I found food freedom again. It wasn’t an over night thing, but a few events made me realise how far I’d come, it honestly is one of the best realisations I’ve had in recent years. Food no longer controls my life and it feels amazing.

Getting over any form of eating disorder or disordered eating is not easy. It can feel extremely controlling at times. If you feel like you would like some support in over coming any issues, or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to get in touch or book a free consultation. I’m all ears.

Love Emma x

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