National Eating Disorders Association

Recovery from binge eating disorder (BED) is a long haul. The ride is bumpy, frightening, rewarding, and ultimately incomplete, just like all human healing. As a psychotherapist, I have treated BED for over 30 years. I have worked with literally thousands of people who have tried to understand their binge behaviors, and to find some kind of peace with food and the body in which they live. While people at any size can have BED, for those with the disorder who live in bigger bodies, "successful" recovery is often assumed to include weight loss.

This week, during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I have contemplated a lot about my eating disorder and recovery. I had the honor and pleasure of speaking to more than 450 people over three days and at three public Iowa universities. Many discussions about access to treatment and recovery from eating disorders occurred during this trip.  

The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is a 2019 Featured NEDAwareness Week Partner. YBIC’s mission is to work with all of the ways yoga and body image intersect to create greater access and dignity for all. As part of NEDAwareness Week, YBIC invited its community members to “share their stories about how the practice of yoga has played an integral role in their healing and recovery from eating disorders” for its blog. Check out these articles they are highlighting:

As a young girl, I never believed it was ever okay to just “come as you are.”

I became really used to wishing I was different and hoping that I could shrink my personality, my mind, and my body to a stature that would be loveable. Little did I know, I was always worthy of being loved.

Dance has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Even before my first dance class at three years old, I often spent my days running around my house on my tiptoes in a sparkly pink tutu and tiny ballet slippers. I used my bedside rail as a ballet barre, and I wanted nothing more than to be a ballerina. 

About four years ago, I came out of a doctor’s office with my first diagnosis: fibromyalgia. It was the first of a laundry list of conditions we discovered I had during the course of my eating disorder recovery. Some of my conditions were exacerbated by my eating disorder and some (such as my thyroid issues) were a direct result of it. Two years later, I found the autistic and broader disability community and began identifying as disabled. 

“It is imperative that any education efforts around food and nutrition include eating disorders prevention and assessment for every child independent of weight status.” Chevese Turner, NEDA’s Chief Policy and Strategy Officer. 

As someone who found community and healing through documenting my mental health recovery on social media, the question  I’ve taught myself to come back to in advocacy work is, “Is this all I can do to help the cause, or can I do something more?” 

Diet culture and fatphobia perpetuate eating disorders and can make full recovery impossible. They create an environment in which we, as the brilliant Deb Burgard has said, prescribe and encourage the same behaviors for fat people that we diagnose and treat as eating disordered in thin people (which also results in missing or even encouraging eating disorders in people of higher weight).

Instagram has always been a place for exploring your passions, sharing your interests, and connecting with the people and things you love. We want you to feel comfortable to express yourself, and to feel enriched and empowered as an individual by what you experience. 

Sometimes, however, the content you see on social media can make you feel pressured to present a perfect or unrealistic version of your life — or maybe you find yourself comparing your life and body to others.