It’s not uncommon for eating disorders to manifest at a young age. Whether they stem from body dysmorphic thinking or environmental pressures, untreated eating disorders tend to stick around for the long haul. You may feel like some days are better than others, or that you have it all under control and could fix things yourself if you ever needed to. The truth is, eating disorders are inherently harmful, more so than you may realize. The benefits of eating disorder treatment begin at improving your relationship with food and restoring your health, but there are far-reaching positive implications that come along with facing your eating disorder head-on.
You deserve to enjoy food
Food is good, It nourishes and comforts us in the winter and is best enjoyed on a patio over a couple of hours in the warmer months. Food, across border lines and cultures, upholds ancient, modern and familial traditions. It sustains us and it acts as a centerpiece at gatherings between friends, families, colleagues and partners.
Eating disorders completely reframe food’s position in our lives. Food is seen as a source of distress, fear, shame, guilt. It is either avoided as much as possible, or it is eaten to an unhealthy excess.
One benefit of eating disorder treatment is that it can show us all of the positive aspects of food, some may argue that its communal nature is just as important as its biological necessity. In the beginning of your treatment journey you may strive towards eating appropriately sized portions every day, and trying to savor each bite. Next, you might go out to lunch with a trusted friend and not force yourself to order off of the “light” menu. With consistent treatment you may eventually find yourself at an hours-long tapas-style dinner with a group ordering whatever you want to eat, while adhering to the healthy boundaries you and your provider have defined. You will finally feel comfortable eating around others, being part of a community, and soaking up all of the goodness food has to offer.
You shouldn’t have to hide
Most people who have experienced an eating disorder can probably relate to the secrecy that comes along with it – covertly adding your meals to a calorie tracker after eating, telling your mom you’re just not feeling well after purging, downplaying to your friends how long you’ve exercised that day – the list goes on. So much of disordered eating takes place in our own minds, and we tread carefully every day so as to not let the secret slip.
This goes for the way we present ourselves to others too. When we feel anxious or self-conscious about our bodies, we have the tendency to cover up as much as possible with baggy clothes or loose layers. Eating disorders can create mental roadblocks that stop us from enjoying what we have in front of us, whether it be a form-fitting dress or an indulgent slice of cake.
You deserve to take up space. Wear the clothes that make you feel most like yourself rather than trying to hide who you are, and eat the foods that you want to eat. This will make you infinitely more happy, and you will soon realize how wonderful it feels to have a flourishing relationship with food and a loving relationship with yourself.
You are not defined by your weight, or your pants size, or what you do (or do not) eat in a day
Certain environmental stressors can increase one’s risk of developing an eating disorder. Ballet dancers, for example, are found to suffer from some type of disordered eating – typically anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa – in higher numbers because of the enormous pressure to maintain a thin, “perfect” figure. Over time this type of messaging teaches us that our value is directly tied to our size or the way our body looks, this must be put to an end. While we may not be able to single handedly change a toxic culture every night, we can change the way we internalize the culture. Know that your worth is in no way related to your shape, no matter what you may have been told.
Your body (and mind) will thank you
Untreated eating disorders can have serious long-term – and sometimes irreversible – ramifications. Severe eating disorders, if left untreated for too long, can lead to anemia, brittle hair and nails, brain damage, multiorgan failure, and infertility.
Not only does eating disorder treatment reduce the risk of health complications in the future, but it also carries the benefit of making you feel better on a day-to-day basis. At some point throughout your eating disorder treatment you will begin to notice that you no longer aim for a certain number on the scale, or calculate exactly how much of your plate you should eat, or feel ashamed after eating “too much.” Food will no longer consume you.
You shouldn’t have to go through this alone
Seeds of Hope offers a myriad treatment options based on the level of care you may need, ranging from online counseling to inpatient care. If you aren’t sure what kind of treatment you need or want to learn more about the benefits of treating an eating disorder, give us a call at (610) 644-6464 to speak with a counselor, therapist or dietitian today. We’ll be there for you every step of the way.