National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

More often than not these days, my eating disorder feels like a distant memory. I have to think really hard to put myself back in my own shoes. It was only five years ago that my entire life revolved around bingeing and purging and starving and drinking (and then bingeing and purging and starving and drinking), and yet that life feels so foreign to me now. Which is an incredible privilege. And a huge victory. I struggled for nearly a decade with anorexia and bulimia. It infected every corner of my life by the time I crashed and burned my way into treatment.

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Before I sat down to write this blog for NEDA (a dream come true), I wrote down a grocery list with all my favorites foods. This is a normal part of life for some, but it was just a couple years ago when I would have severe panic attacks when my mother came home with groceries. The irony of it all is that I started working in a grocery store right out of treatment. I would bring in the shopping carts and find all of the left behind grocery lists. I saved all of the lists as a reminder to me of how badly I wanted a healthy relationship with food.

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Life is not meant to be lived alone. We are here to empower one another and to be there for one another through the different positive or negative journeys we face. I have begun to realize that more and more. Indeed, it is the people who are around us—particularly during our struggles—that push us forward and allow us to conquer the battles we face. 

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HGTV hummed in the background and a stack of gossip magazines were lazily stacked on the table next to me. My hands rested on my lap, tightly woven together. Thumbs anxiously pressed against each other, I hummed to myself. A combination of Beyoncé and Sylvan Esso circulated through my head — my pump up music driving to the office. I was nervous.

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Surviving the holidays when you have an eating disorder is not always easy. If you are like many of my clients, you are so not looking forward to the holiday parties, events, dinners, and plans.

For most, this is overwhelming because you know there will be food involved and fear is what causes you anxiety. You are worried that people will judge what you are eating, make comments about your body, or someone will say something to upset you.

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My name is Hannah and I am recovering from anorexia nervosa. It's been about six years now and here I am, sharing my story for the first time. My general motto is, “Go big or go home,” which is kind of what I am doing here. 

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The holidays can be a challenging time of year for many people. Some get stressed out because they’re hosting, some are anxious because of the time with family or being around a lot of people. Others may have a really hard time being around so much food or alcohol since both of those tend to be cultural aspects of the holiday season. 

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Eating disorders are stereotypically viewed as illnesses that plague young, upper-class, white females. This idea is perpetuated by a variety of factors, including the media, and prevents other people with eating disorders from seeking or receiving the help they need and deserve. While the research into males with eating disorders has recently begun to gain traction, many other groups are still being dismissed. One of those groups is gender nonconforming people. 

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I’ve been in recovery for my eating disorder for eight, going on nine years now.

When I typed that sentence while brainstorming for this blog post, I first felt a sense of intense pride in myself and how far I’ve come from the scared, 18-year-old girl who entered treatment those many years ago to a confident transgender man.

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When I think back to my high school years, it was a series of rituals. The same foods, the same habits, the same clothes; everything was a routine because in my mind, that’s when things were in control. The truth is, I was anything BUT in control. 

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