Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.
Eating Disorder Therapist
Overcome disordered eating and find peace with food
5 myths versus reality in recovery from disordered eating
by Harriet Frew on May 8th, 2020


MYTH: 'Recovery is about seeking out the perfect meal plan from an external source, with precisely the right balance of food groups to meet my needs. I will follow it to the letter and food peace will be mine.'

This is such a common belief. Some of my clients are often bursting to see the dietician for getting the holy grail meal plan. The one that gets to give the perfect proportions of all the things they need to eat and will help them dump the eating disorder for good.
It’s such an understandable request. Because eating disorders are all about food, right? Just get that sorted and you’ll be okay.

The tricky thing is, they are about food, but eating disorders are also complex, psychological problems. They’re usually a coping strategy (often unconscious) for underlying distress. If it was just as simple as ‘follow a meal plan; clients likely wouldn’t be seeing me anyway
So often what happens – is people see the dietician. They’re told the nutritional info that we kind of all know. Eating a balance of food groups; variety; eating enough – and they feel somewhat disillusioned. Because they could actually have told someone else in their shoes, exactly the same thing.

This isn’t to put down dietitians – as they are crucial in the recovery process -  as people often need permission, informed guidance and knowledge about how to manage their food intake.
But it’s not the magic pill; the wonderful answer; the thing to sort out all problems.

REALITY: The reality of recovery is that a psychological understanding is an important part of the recovery journey. This involves understanding WHY you developed eating issues; what was the trigger; how is the eating problem helping you cope and gaining awareness of this, so that you are able to begin to consider change. A meal plan might be a very vital and important recovery segment, at some point, but it’s not the FIX that we’re hoping for.

Recovery is also about developing a healthier relationship with food. This means eating a variety of foods, including protein, carbohydrates and fats; eating tasty foods; childhood favourites; eating from restaurant menus and my old forbidden foods. There is no perfect food equation but I can learn to trust my body, to tell me what it needs. This is a long game – one step at a time.


MYTH: It’s a quick fix. 'Just give me a 30 day programme and some strategies.'

We live in a fast paced and instant gratification society. You can buy STUFF on Amazon in a quick swipe; supermarket shopping is 24 hour and we are constantly bombarded with information on our phones – a Google search gives you all the info you need.

It is understandable that we want to apply the same approach to recovery from disordered eating. Who wants a lengthy painful drawn out therapy, when the allure of quick-fix approach just feels infinitely more appealing.

We might have often come from a dieting approach too. Many diets are short in duration and quick with results. Not sustainable results, but RESULTS. We are often lured into the fantasy that changing our relationship with food should be just as easy.

It’s common to see people maybe ditching the crash diets with meal supplements, but then simply switching this to another slightly less intense 30 day lifestyle plan, which is essentially another diet but maybe masked under the veil of clean eating or something else. This is not a solution, just a slight change of direction.

And nevermind that it’s probably taken you months or years to develop disordered eating. The unravelling of disordered habits and healing a relationship with food, is going to take a bit of time.

REALITY: So the reality is that it does take time to recover from disordered eating. However, don’t be put off by this. The journey is rich in not only changing your relationship with food, but also a whole new load of learning about emotions, relationships and finding yourself. It is absolutely one worth investing in.


MYTH: If other people would change and start being more accepting and kind towards me, then I could finally accept myself.

This was me -  100% in my early twenties. I felt angry, disappointed and let down by certain people in my life. I was blaming and took very little responsibility for what was happening.
I worked tirelessly to try and gain the approval and acceptance, of people that weren’t able to give this to me. I was furious that they weren’t accepting of me. I felt entitled to this. THIS IS WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN.

And I thought - how could I possibly accept myself, when others (whose opinion I really valued) did not accept me? It felt an impossible task.

This is such a common theme I see in therapy; people continuing to go back to their childhood relationships – to try and get what they need; continuing to bang on the door of hope that THIS TIME, maybe my parent can really do it for me. Sadly, sometimes this just isn’t possible.

It was a sad grieving process for me, to realise what was possible from certain people around me and what was not. This wasn’t an overnight acceptance or suddenly feeling okay about it. It was a slow and gradual dilution of the raging feelings and a reluctant acceptance of the reality.

In time, it was an acknowledgement of people’s real limitations in what they could give, down to their own childhood wounds. Beginning to understand that they were doing the best that they could at the time. And beginning to have more empathy and understanding for this.

So the REALITY has been that it is a grief to accept that some people in my life could not and cannot give me what I need; it is a hard lesson to accept this fully. However, I can have compassion for others, as they were doing the best that they could at the time. I have had the opportunity to reflect and gain awareness of my own situation. This means I can choose to parent myself in a very different way.

Recovery is an unexpected and winding road. Every journey will be unique. Often your expectations of recovery may be very different from the reality. This is no bad thing.

Do share any of your own myths v reality with disordered eating recovery.

Posted in Recovery    Tagged with disordered eating recovery, recovery, eating disorder recovery, anorexia, bulimia, osfed, recovery journey


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Find peace with food and overcome disordered eating.