Eating disorders, whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or orthorexia, no doubt, harvest secrecy, isolation, and deception. Individuals with an eating disorder often live in a complex web of lies specifically designed to keep dangerous coping mechanisms in place and “protected” from those individuals who sincerely want to help. Individuals will hide food, eat in secrecy, purge in secrecy, choose isolation over bonding with friends and family, lie about their weight and dieting and will cover up scars with makeup or wear baggy clothes to hide any of the side-effects associated with their eating disorder. The lies of the eating disorder are powerful and if examined objectively, only lead to frustration, despair, disconnection, and emptiness.
Practicing honesty with yourself
You are your own worst critic. You are the hardest on yourself, will push your body to extreme limits and you are usually the last one to admit you have an eating disorder. Treatment and healing begins with you being honest with yourself and with your struggle and its threat to your physical, emotional, spiritual and relational health. Recognizing the unhealthy consequences that stem from your eating disorder is an essential step to entering treatment. Accept your struggle, and use it as motivation to continue moving forward, rather than letting it manifest as self-hatred.
Practicing honesty with your treatment team
The only way that any professional help can work is if you commit to complete openness and transparency with your treatment team. Be honest about your feelings, your past, your triggers, your relationship with food, your body image, and your weight. Your treatment team will most likely see through your lies and deception since they have been in this field for a while. Remember that you are not there to impress them or to perform for them. You may have had a great last session and then the next week feel as though you did not make any progress. You may become frustrated and may have feelings of self-doubt and the desire to engage in binging/purging behaviors. Be honest with them about these feelings as they can help you through this.
Practicing honesty with others
Openness and transparency with others are essential, and it is okay to be cautious of who you share your honesty with. Not everyone can or should be trusted with your heart, so it is essential to choose wisely on whom you rely on for support and comfort. Identify a few friends or family members who you can count on to love you unconditionally through the recovery process; those you are not afraid will reject you or grow impatient or condemning. These trusted supporters will be able to handle your honesty and thereby truly celebrate your victories and carry your burden when you feel you cannot.
“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square”.