Do I HAVE to eat?

Recovery is hard work. No matter how long you have been in recovery, you will sometimes find that it gets harder at some points and easier at others. Perhaps stress makes it harder to stick to recovery. Or maybe a busy day makes it hard for you to eat on time. Whatever the case, the point is that recovery has its easy and hard moments.

One of the hardest experiences I had in recovery was sticking to my plan after I got discharged. I told myself that I would stick to my meals, but as soon as I got out, I felt that I did not want to. It was hard to eat, especially since there was no one there to make me do it. In treatment, there were nurses and doctors there that ensured that you were eating. But at home, who could make me eat? Sure, my family was there. But they could not technically MAKE me do anything.

Eating on my own became easier when I realized how terrible ED had been. I looked back at my life and remembered all that ED did to me. He made me restrict and starve, and I nearly lost my life. He took away my happiness, my personality, my body, and my smile. Was this worth not eating? Would I again fall into his trap and not eat simply because ‘no one was there to make me do it’?

No. I was stronger than that. I AM stronger than ED. And so are you. Eating is definitely hard, especially at the beginning of recovery. It feels so foreign, so wrong, so…strange. But with practice, it becomes easier. The most helpful thing that I did was to become a robot. It sounds strange, but it worked. I ate not by hunger cues but by what the clock said. If it was time for a meal, that meant it was time to eat. Having something to do during meal times was helpful as well. I read books, wrote a journal entry, played a game, talked to my friends or family, or watched TV. Whatever took my mind off eating and helped me get through the meal, I did. And it worked. It was not easy, but it sure helped.

Now, eating is easier. Don’t get me wrong – it is still tough. But each time ED tries to tell me not to eat, I say, ‘NO! I HAVE TO EAT. Eating is what normal people do. I need to eat to live. My body and mind will thank me for it.’ Maybe I do not enjoy eating now, but one day, I know it will happen. Yes, there is no one there to make me eat – but I am there. My body, health, and well-being depend on it. I have taken responsibility for my health and I intend to treat myself well. I have seen that ED can kill and I know that that is not what I want for my future. I have a life to live and things to do. I will not let ED get in the way of my happiness.

And so I say, keep eating. I need to learn to ignore ED and to realize that although I might not WANT to eat, I HAV E to. One day, maybe I will actually enjoy doing it. But until then, eating must occur. I will not let ED win this battle ever again. I am stronger, wiser, and healthier. So when ED says ‘don’t eat’, sometimes you have to say, ‘actaully, ED, I think I WILL eat’.

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