1. “Hey, how are you?”
Don’t forget that people struggling with disordered eating – or in recovery – have feelings that have nothing to do with food, many of which may be driving them to these coping mechanisms. Talk about something other than eating/food (because we already think about that 24/7 and we need your support, not your judgement).
2. You are so much more than what you see in the mirror.
No matter how thin I became, I never liked what I saw staring back at me. No matter how many ribs were showing, I thought I still needed to lose weight. It’s hard to see beyond the disorder to realize that body dysmorphia and dissatisfaction need to be challenged, not accepted as truth.
3. Your feelings are not bad.
Don’t be afraid of the feelings/emotions driving your eating behaviors. Try to understand them, examine them, name them, and talk to someone about them. And know that wherever you are in that process, it’s okay.
4. You are not your eating disorder.
Hearing someone say, “hey, you’re worth more than whatever hell you’re going through” might give someone the gentle encouragement they need to get through a hard time. We resort to disordered eating as a solution to a problem, but it doesn’t define who we are as a person.
5. You can’t fix an emotional problem with a physical solution.
Not permanently anyway. For many years, I tried to burry my emotional trauma with mileage. Stressed? Go for a run. Anxious? Go for a run. Sad? Go for a run. I can’t help but wonder how much sooner I could have started recovering if I traded some of that mileage for therapy.
6. Are your behaviors supporting the person you want to be 5 years from now?
Consumed by food and the feelings I was suppressing I never really stopped to consider the permanent damage I was doing to my body every day I chose to undereat and overtrain – pushing my body beyond its limits. 5 years later, struggling with the stress fracture consequences, I so wish I had.
7. It’s okay to have bad days.
Recovery is not linear and perfection isn’t possible. The only way forward is to accept the setbacks, the barriers and the failures and learn from them.
8. Your eating disorder is not your fault.
You didn’t choose to have an eating disorder. Eating disorders occur because of a combination of genetic, biochemical, psychological, cultural and environmental factors. Above all, eating disorders are a solution; a coping mechanism, to a much deeper problem.
9. Your eating disorder is not your fault, but it is your responsibility to engage in recovery.
Recovery will not just happen. It takes initiative, a mindset overhaul, a willingness to fail and get back up again and a drive to be your own advocate. Your eating disorder is a prison cell and you’re the only one with the key.
10. I can’t understand what you’re going through, but I’m here for you.
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.