National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

I began my career as a psychotherapist when I was 24 years old. I was not yet a year out of graduate school. I was eager, ambitious, and ready to start this next chapter in my life. And like many social work graduates, I had grand plans to save the world. 

I knew I wanted to focus on eating disorders treatment, which was born out of my own struggle with bulimia, but at that time, it felt too soon out of my own recovery, and honestly, I felt too wet behind the ears as a clinician, so eating disorder treatment needed to take a back seat. 

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Stages of Recovery

Stages of RecoveryUNDERSTANDING STAGES OF CHANGE IN THE RECOVERY PROCESS

My journey to diagnosis for anorexia started when I was 20. I’d had enough of feeling the way I did and being controlled by emotion and intrusive thoughts. During this time, we discovered it had started at 10 years old due to issues at school and weight-related family traits. 

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When I entered residential treatment at age 21, I did not believe I deserved love. I had struggled with an eating disorder for almost a decade at that point and was tired, depressed, and frustrated. I didn't re-admit to treatment with the hopes of recovery necessarily. I didn't want to continue living in the hell of my eating disorder, but I felt hopeless about my future. 

In treatment, I listened to my dietician and put one foot in front of the other. I went through the actions of recovery because the prospect of staying the same seemed unbearable. 

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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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