My Top Recovery Tips
The most common question I get on Instagram is if I have any tips or advice from someone going through recovering from anorexia. I figured it would be a good idea to put them to paper (screen? keyboard?) on here so anyone who needs them can go back and look at them at any time.
The first thing I want to say before going into this is that recovery is not easy, and is not a short process. While it will be the #1 most rewarding thing you've ever done, it is FILLED with ups and downs. It took me 6 years to get to the place I am today- (mostly) comfortable with myself, my body, and food. Second, these tips are what helped ME most. Everyone is different, and I am not an eating disorder professional- I just lived through one.
Here we go.
1. The best piece of advice I was given going though my recovery was "treat yourself like your own best friend." Treat yourself like someone you love. This means treating your body and mind with respect and giving yourself slack. You wouldn't be half as hard on your best friend as you are on yourself, but YOU are the only person who will be with you for your whole life- so why not?
2. For weight restoration (which is not the same as recovery): drink calories. This is especially helpful for the early stages of recovery when your stomach is nowhere near being able to fit the capacity it should. Liquids (like snapples, caloric coffee drinks, gatorade, etc) have plenty of calories but don't leave you feeling stuffed to an uncomfortable level so you are still able to eat at all meals and snack times.
3. Also for weight restoration: Do not exercise while gaining back essential fat. I took about 2 months off of any form of exercise both times I weight restored. It's really uncomfortable yes, but it makes the weight gain easier, quicker, and more effective.
4. Get professional help. Utilize counseling (can usually be found for free at schools) and put your all into it when you're there. You will only get as much out of it as you put into it. I found this out firsthand (The first time around I put nothing into my therapy and got nothing out of it. The second time around i really worked with my therapist and tried to tackle the root of my problems) which leads me to my next tip.
5. Band-aids don't fix bullet holes (Hey Taylor Swift). AKA you need to target the roots of your problems in order to actually recover. This is essentially why counseling was so helpful to me. She helped me realize what was going on mentally that wasn't "normal," and helped me to treat my mental health which in turn helped to treat my physical health. I say this a lot, but I believe that nutrition and our relationships with food are the biggest indicators of our overall health- I had to get a grip on my mental health before I was truly able to form the healthy relationship with food I now have.
6. Face fear foods with friends and family (alliteration wow). If your biggest fear food is pizza, don't try to eat pizza alone one night. Recruit your family or a group of friends to go out to a pizza restaurant with you. Moral support helps more than I can say.
7. On that last point- form a solid support system. I turned to the Instagram recovery community when I wasn't completely comfortable sharing my eating disorder thoughts with others I knew personally, but now there are a select few people I really opened up to who can really talk to who will listen without judgment if I'm not doing well one day.
8. Get our of your comfort zone. Conveniently, I left to study abroad in Australia right when I was weight restoring my second time. I did not want to go. I was so scared I wouldn't be able to work out, the food would be different, I would gain weight, etc. Australia ended up being the best 5 months of my life and ESSENTIAL in my recovery. I learned when I was there that there is so much more to life than worrying about my next meal. Even if you don't go abroad, maybe go on a road trip to a different state or town just to shake things up and get out of your regular environment once in a while.
8. Know that it's all worth it. When I was in the depths of my anorexia, I truly and honestly could not imagine my life being anything more than counting calories and worrying about what foods I would have to restrict next. I thought I would never be normal. I cried when my nutritionist showed me a quote on what "normal eating" was because I was so sure I would never know what that felt like. I didn't want to recover for the longest time because ano had that much hold over me.
Recovery is the best choice you can ever make. Not only is there life after recovery, but your WHOLE life is after recovery. I don't know any other way to put it. All of your self worth, fun, deep relationships and friendships are all on the other side of recovery.
Make the choice.