Trigger warning: Eating disorders
1. Stay away from any talk about diets and exercise.
There is nothing wrong with eating nutritious foods or exercising to feel healthy. However, when it becomes solely about losing weight, then it becomes a slippery slope. It is impossible to never hear about diets and exercise for weight loss ever again, but learning to accept that these are popular topics in our culture and choosing not to read, listen, or engage in these conversations is your power.
2. Learn to accept that you will have bad body image days.
There will be times you want to be underweight again. This will be the hardest thing about recovery. Take a deep breath and remember that you don’t always have to love your body, but you can learn to accept it. Accept that your recovered body is capable of so much more than your eating disorder body. You can finally walk up stairs without feeling faint, you’re not always cold, your hair is not falling out in chunks, and you can enjoy being with friends without the fear of food being present. Accept that being in recovery allows you to do much more.
3. Ignore unsolicited comments about your appearance.
Throughout your life, you will meet new people who don’t know about your past. Once in a while, someone may comment on your weight or shape. Just because someone says something about your body doesn’t mean that they are right. Speak up if a remark makes you uncomfortable or sad, whether that’s to the person directly or to another loved one. Remind yourself to not take it personally, as people will sometimes have an unsolicited opinion on your body.
4. Don’t idolize others who are thin
Remember that you cannot assume that individual’s situation. They may be struggling with an eating disorder, have their own insecurities, or suffer from another health condition. It could even be their genetics. Everyone’s body is different and unique. Comparing yourself to someone else takes away from your own beauty. Look at how far you’ve come in recovery and remind yourself you don’t need to look like anyone else. Be you unapologetically.
5. Speak up against ignorance
I personally come from a South Asian family and noticed that in many minority cultures, there is a stigma around eating disorders. Regardless of your background, speak up and educate others when they make unsolicited remarks about another’s weight or body. The only way we as a society can stop eating disorders from being taboo is to have these conversations. Eating disorders don’t discriminate against race, age, or sex; they can affect anyone. If you’re comfortable, use your story to encourage others to seek help and speak up. There is power in your recovery.