National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

I am six years old, staring at the mirror, knowing there’s a difference between pretty and ugly. I know who’s “pretty” and who’s "ugly;” even my six year old self, learning to write e's and j's, to paint rainbows with my fingers, knew the difference.

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From a young age I was taught to believe that thinner equaled better, and larger equaled lesser. My dance teachers reinforced this, my father reinforced this, and the media reinforced this. Eating disorders are typically associated with thinness, and while that can be some people’s experience, it is not everyone’s. Those of us who may not appear to have an eating disorder still have a valid struggle and it is important to talk about. It is important for our eating disorders to not be dismissed simply because of our size or the number on a scale.

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The first time I heard about eating disorders, I was in middle school. Our health class watched a film on the dangers of extreme dieting, and the implications it could have on mental and physical health. I watched intently as the film portrayed the typical narrative of a middle-class Caucasian girl who was on a dangerous path toward starvation. At the time, it was inconceivable to me that I could ever develop an eating disorder. I was just an average sized African-American girl who loved food. 

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I want to begin by introducing you to my ex best friend, the scale. During my struggle with an eating disorder, the feeling of being alone was masked by my new companion, someone who would never lie to me—or so I thought. I spent morning, noon, and night checking in with my best friend. If anyone was going to reassure me and tell me I was doing a “good job,” it was my scale. 

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My inspiration for this poem came from a variety of sources. First and foremost, to educate others on how eating habits and body image perspectives can start from a very young age. Most people tend to forget that the mind is constantly shaping and changing itself year after year. Yes, this even means it’s developing for a five-year-old. The surrounding environment and role models that children place themselves with are very important to a long lasting healthy lifestyle as they grow. 

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Whether the kitchen is familiar territory or unmarked terrain, this space may be a minefield for someone in recovery from an eating disorder. While cooking may be challenging, the results go far beyond the dinner plate; empower your recovery and make some yummy food on the way with these five restorative reasons to cook through your recovery!

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When I came forward for help with my eating disorder, I was given incredible support from concerned friends and family, as well as a dedicated team of professionals on my college campus ready to set me on a path towards recovery. It felt as though all these hands were being extended out to hold me up and keep me steady as I wandered into what would no doubt prove to be difficult terrain.

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From fear of judgment at the gym during “resolution season” to fear of failure when asking for a raise, all of us deal with fear every single day. One of my big goals at this time in my life is to live fearlessly.

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Dr. Lesley Williams is a certified eating disorder specialist, family medicine physician, and positive body image advocate. She co-owns Liberation Center, an eating disorder treatment facility, in Phoenix, Arizona. Dr. Williams is dedicated to ensuring that all women and men who struggle with eating and body image issues receive the help that they need to overcome and live happy, healthy lives.

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We’re over a week into the new year and you've likely encountered a plethora of diet ads telling you that happiness can only be achieved through weight loss. I'm calling BS on that idea. 

So often, the prospect of the new year is poisoned by notions of creating a “new and improved” you, as if the person you were on December 31st at 11:59pm was not worthy. Well, you are, and everyone has different desires for the new year, as we should!

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