Understanding Eating Disorders (ED) and Recovery

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A Quick Vocabulary Lesson

Binge Eating Disorder:

Binge eating disorder is defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control, shame and self-hate. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry. The person may have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behavior. This disorder is associated with marked distress and occurs, on average, at least once a week over three months. While overeating is a challenge for many Americans, recurrent binge eating is much less common, far more severe, and is associated with significant physical and psychological problems. The majority of individuals with BED are not obese or “overweight”. (American Psychiatric Association, 2014) (Project Heal, 2017).

Anorexia Nervosa:

Primarily affects, but is not restricted to, adolescent girls and young women, is characterized by distorted body image and excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of becoming fat. Behaviors used include but are not restricted to, body checking, weight loss and restricted calorie intake.

A major and common misconception about anorexia is that the individual must be incredibly thin and/or underweight.  This is not always the case, in that individual’s with a healthy body weight, and even those in larger bodies can and do struggle with anorexia.  Several formally overweight individual’s who lose a significant amount of weight end up developing anorexia nervosa (Project Heal, 2017).

Bulimia Nervosa:

Characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, forced elimination, and excessive exercise (also referred to as purging behaviors) at least once a week to avoid weight gain or to avoid external stress. Similarly to anorexia, bulimia involves a distorted vision of the body and an obsession with food intake (Project Heal, 2017).


The word behavior is commonly used for the actions and patterns used within eating disorders. For example, binging, purging, restriction, compulsive exercising, body checking, etc.

An Explanation 

Full Recovery Is Possible!!! I am proof! But it is hard, and it gets worse before it get’s better! Recovery is a beautiful disaster, and before it gets better it gets worse! Let me explain it in a way that my therapist explained it to me, and the way I explained it to my family.

Here is how I look at it, there are three “musts,” “shoulds,” and “have-to’s” in life; in order to stay alive, an individual “has to” or “must” eat, sleep, and eliminate. If an individual finds a compulsive comfort in any of those three “musts” they most likely have some sort of disorder. For instance, I found compulsive comfort in eating, not eating, and elimination, in that they consumed me. Therefore, during recovery I had to find things that could replace those compulsive comforts, such as, meditation, essential oils, and the rest of my now extensive self-care routine (which I will outline throughout my posts). In the beginning of recovery (the first 6 months to 12 months) I had such a hard time giving up my disorder, or those compulsive comforts, I missed it…yes I know that sounds wrong, but I did, I missed the feeling of hunger, I missed using my compulsive unhealthy behaviors. With the help of my therapeutic care team, Sean, family, friends, hard work and dedication I finally moved past the “hard” part of recovery. This was so incredibly difficult, disastrous at times, and painful, but oh my goodness was it worth it! Think of it this way…

My Eating Disorder was like my abusive boyfriend. I loved my Eating Disorder like I loved an abusive boyfriend. My ED was my rock, my comfort, my hug, my kiss, my everything! My ED got me through all of those hard times in high school, in junior high and elementary school! My ED was there for me when I was lonely, sad, anxious and felt the world was just too much! But my ED was also horrible to me, abusive, my ED treated me terribly and I let it because I couldn’t see a way out! Once I decided it was time to break up with my ED things became much more difficult…my ED wouldn’t let me sleep, it called me every second of every day, it taunted me and reeled me back in, and every time I went back it felt so good, but only temporarily! Once I was under it’s spell it would beat me up again and again, but I didn’t want to let it go, I held on with my dear life! I snuck away to my ED in secret so that no one would second guess our breakup! It got so much harder before it got better! Once I was ready to really break up with it, and move on…..I did! Yes, there were some bumps in the road….but I learned from each and every bump, because recovery is not linear! 

 It is important to keep in mind that I did not do this alone, I did this with so much help and an enormous amount of support; albeit clinical/professional support, emotional support, and personal support (SELF CARE, SELF CARE, SELF CARE)! With that being said, clinical/professional support is incredibly important, actually crucial and necessary within the recovery processes. This blog, friends, family, self help books are helpful, but WILL NOT AND CANNOT fully pull you out of your eating disorder, and that is the harsh but beautiful truth!

Self Disclosure

I am currently a graduate student  earning my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to eventually earn my license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Please also note, that within the entirety of this blog I am purely speaking as a young woman, a girl boss, an ED warrior, and self-care blogger.

Eating Disorder Support Group

Contact Jayne for more details on Recovery Love and Care’s Eating Disorder Support Group in Charleston, SC!

Outside Resources

Positive Health Wellness – Eating Disorders Myths and Facts

Eating Disorder Hope

Project Heal

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

Eating Disorder Hope

Screening for Depression

Stop Bullying

TedX – Glennon Doyle Melton

  • Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, CARRY ON, WARRIOR, founder of http://www.momastery.com (Links to an external site.), and creator of http://www.monkeeseemonkeedo.org (Links to an external site.). Glennon believes that life is equal parts beautiful and brutal, and writes about the “brutiful” she finds in marriage, motherhood, faith, addiction and recovery. Glennon unleashes her wit, courage and irreverence to call us to accept ourselves exactly as we are today, but also incidentally inspires us to live bolder, more meaningful lives for others.

Myth Busters: