National Eating Disorders Association

“Let’s go out to eat.” The words immediately used to trigger a thousand thoughts. Which excuse do I use this time? Do I have homework? Am I busy? Maybe I don’t feel well? Or maybe this time I should just go so no one gets suspicious? 

Those were only a very few of the thoughts that went through my head when someone would ask me to go out to eat when I was in the darkest place of my eating disorder.

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“Be sure to eat your vegetables.” For me, this saying was an everyday staple of my childhood, and although it has been nearly half a decade since I last lived with my parents, I still try my best to follow a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, though, I entrapped myself in this philosophy to the point that I was becoming withdrawn from my friends and creating a relationship with food that was devoid of enjoyment at both the social and sensory levels.

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As we all know, attending college can be a pain, but attending college with an eating disorder? Don’t even get me started. I struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years and went through treatment. I thought my journey through treatment would be the hardest thing I'd ever go through, but boy was I wrong.

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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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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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I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2013 when I was 19, but my deadly eating disorder and terrifying habits had begun long before then. They started when I was 14 and progressed for five years until I was so deep in my eating disorder that I didn’t know how to get out.

Throughout my life I have been bigger than my peers, and that seemed to be a constant topic among everyone in my life: the bullies, family, and friends. However, no one acknowledged that my unhealthy eating habits were symptoms of a larger problem.

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