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Six Things to Avoid in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorder recovery is a challenging and bumpy road. Relapse is possible, and for some, relapse occurs more than once. Additionally, we live in a culture that is dominated by diet trends, which can exacerbate symptoms and interfere with recovery. The simplest daily tasks such as grocery shopping and clothing shopping can be triggering not even to mention the pitfalls of scrolling through social media. The following are several examples that are known to obstruct the eating disorder recovery process:

1) Waist trainers: You don’t need to “train” your waist. Recovery is about training your mind to be more body neutral. Trying to manipulate a body part to look a certain way is a toxic behavior that can feed your addiction and disorder.

2) Macros, keto meal plans, Paleo, and more: If you are following a specific meal plan that excludes or significantly limits certain foods in favor of others that are judged to be “healthier” or better for weight-control, then you are continuing to do your eating disorder in disguise. Eating in recovery is flexible and varied and allows access to all foods, particularly those that diets tend to eliminate. Excluding carbs, fats, sweets, and any other food group, because it is deemed “unhealthy” by a certain diet culture, is mentally toxic. If you are concerned about which foods to eat, then it may be wise to consult with a dietitian who is well versed in eating disorder recovery.

3) Cleanses/detoxes: These are weight-loss gimmicks that can lead to relapse. Your body naturally detoxes on its own. Cleanses and detoxes are unnecessarily restrictive and can lead to sustained restriction or backfire in the form of binge eating.

4) Food scales: If you’re weighing your food, you’re not relating to food in a natural and transferable way. This inflexible approach won’t get you far in your recovery journey, as it retains the rigidity of the eating disorder mindset and prevents exposure to more adjustable eating patterns, such as spontaneous snacks or restaurant meals. The same is true for weight scales. Weight scales should be removed from your home during your recovery as these only emphasize a number, a number which can result in binging and purging if that number is not “acceptable” in society

5) Fitness trackers: Recovery should focus on intuitive movement, rather than exercise that is numbers-based or focused on burning calories. Especially in early recovery, counting anything (and then making behavioral decisions based on these numbers) ignites the eating disorder brain and can trigger a relapse. Fitness trackers place too much emphasis on numbers (calories burned, steps taken, miles walked, activity times etc.), robbing us of our natural desire to move our bodies in flexible and creative ways.

6) Cosmetic procedures: Whether you are going under the knife to fix a slight defect or are purchasing a laser treatment to enhance a particular body part, cosmetic procedures can be detrimental to your eating disorder recovery. For most individuals, eating disorders are strongly correlated with control and body image and by using cosmetic procedures to augment your body type; you are only feeding into the cycle of unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Can you think of any others to add to this list?

Center For Discovery