If you think you might have an eating disorder, you are not alone. I am sharing a few resources for disordered eating that helped me in my recovery.
In 2008, when I realized I had an eating disorder, I didn’t really know where to begin. I had just had this epiphany that my need for control and secretive eating behaviors wasn’t “normal”, but what was I supposed to do now? I needed resources for disordered eating and I had no idea where to begin.
In all honesty, I don’t remember how I found my therapist. I have no recollection of it at all. I think I was in such a fog about what I’d just discovered about myself, that I have blocked that part out of my mind. But, I do remember my time in therapy and the things that helped me.
I am not here to make medical claims, or tell you what you need to do if you have an eating disorder. I am not here to diagnose you with an eating disorder, only a trained medical professional can do that.
What I will tell you is if you think you have disordered eating, please talk to someone about your concerns. A doctor, a friend, a parent… someone. Anyone.
Don’t spend another day in the silent prison within yourself.
There is help available to you and there is freedom. Please don’t be afraid to reach out and ask someone to help you begin the process of healing.
I assume I started with my insurance company and that is how I was put in touch with my therapist. I saw a therapist to discuss how I was feeling about food and what the underlying issues were, because it’s never really about the food. I also saw a psychiatrist who prescribed the medications that I took during this time.
I was very depressed, so medication at this point in recovery, was crucial FOR ME. That does not mean that everyone in eating disorder therapy will go on medications, but that is what my treatment plan looked like for me. I needed the medication to help pull me out of the darkness a bit so I could begin diving into the issues that needed addressed that I was suffocating by binging and restricting.
After a while, it was time to start figuring out how to eat the way a naturally healthy person eats. That was when I began seeing a dietitian.
I would meet with her once a week. We would discuss my food issues, food choices and how I felt about them, and the patterns of my binge behavior. She would also “blind weigh” me. I would step on the scale for her, but I never looked at the number. The hardest part for me in therapy was not knowing what I weighed. For years that number determined my worth, now it was gone. My scale had been removed from the home and I had no idea where I stood. It was scary, and I gained 100 pounds in therapy, but it was essential for me to learn what I needed to learn about my body at that time.
Today I am finally THANKFUL for the time spent figuring it all out. It led me to freedom.
With the help of my therapist, psychiatrist and dietitian, I was able to find healing over a period of about 2 years. They set me up on a path to overall wellness and really helped me understand my disordered eating patterns that I’d had for many years. I discovered a new way of looking at food, it was fuel and it wasn’t meant to serve an emotional purpose. Before all of this, I rarely used food the way it is intended. It always served an emotional purpose.
During therapy and after there were a few books that I have found very helpful so I wanted to share them with you. All of them serve their own purpose and I connected with them each a little differently. I have them listed below with a short review so you can see if one might help you or someone you know, as well.
I plan to update these resources as I continue to learn more and more in order to help others. I will never be fully “healed”. Every day is another chance to get to know myself better, to learn what makes my body happy and how I can continue to think positively about food and my body. It’s a lifelong process. I know I’ll always have to stay focused on my recovery and that’s ok. I don’t consider it my “crutch” anymore, rather it’s a gift that God gave me because my story and my pain can help others escape their own disordered eating patterns.
Here are 4 books I highly recommend for anyone who thinks they have disordered eating or an eating disorder.
- Women, Food & God by Geneen Roth– I loved this book. I think I have half of it highlighted because I read it after I’d been through therapy and there were so many things in this book that solidified everything I’d learned about myself and my eating habits. She doesn’t speak highly of Weight Watchers in this book so I’m going to give you warning on that if you are a WW member. Here is my stance on it today, as a Weight Watchers member and in recovery for binge eating disorder. I had to step away from WW for a few years to figure out what was going on in my own head. I couldn’t focus on points or anything like that at all. I had to focus on my feelings and how those feelings controlled my food choices. I needed to take that time away from WW in order for me to come back recently and be able to be successful and find my “happy place” with a much healthier mindset than I’ve ever done the program. I do not consider Weight Watchers a diet. If you do, I highly encourage you to speak with your leader or use the 24/7 online chat. It should not feel like a diet. You should be eating foods you love and enjoy and should be paying close attention to how your body feels when you eat. This book talks a lot about how our emotions fuel our eating behavior and how we can shut down those lies by dealing with the pain inside. I love Geneen Roth. She is an expert in the field of binge eating disorder and I can’t recommend her enough.
- Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst – I read this book after therapy as well and it helped me understand, for the first time, that when I was reaching for food to serve and emotional purpose… I really should be reaching for God. We were meant to crave a relationship with our Holy Father… not food. God wants us to enjoy food, but it shouldn’t be used as a drug. This book is so helpful, especially if you are a Christian, who would like more of a biblical view point on emotional eating. She also has a daily devotional that I have on my shelf, I just haven’t dove into it yet, but I hear it is amazing.
- Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer– I can remember reading this book in therapy and it felt like it helped me release some of the guilt I had. It was the book that changed my outlook on MYSELF. ED, is your eating disorder. In the book she tells you that YOU are not your eating disorder. So often I thought I was a failure, and an awful person because of my eating disorder. This book helped me understand that I am not my eating disorder and that I deserve happiness and forgiveness and needed to quit punishing myself because I was truly sick. This book is a great resource for all eating disorders, not just binge eating.
- Inner Harvest by Hazelen Publishing– This is a new resource I found recently. An Instagram follower recommended it to me and I really like it. It’s a daily devotional for eating disorders and helps me focus on one small area each day.
These are the top 4 books I recommend to people when they ask me where to start. As I find more resources, I will share them, I just wanted to give the person out there who feels alone and lost, a place to start. I had never felt more alone than I did when I decided to tackle my binge eating. No one understood me, no one understood why this became the monster it did… but I knew deep down I had to get it figured out and I needed to do the hard work so I could be free. I’m so glad I did. I’m so glad I fought through it. Today, I am so much happier. I still struggle, I have binged and been scared to death I won’t be able to get in a healthy frame of mind again, but I always do. I have armed myself with the resources I need, and a strong support system, so I don’t ever have to go back down this road. But, if I do, I know I’m not alone, and I hope you know that, too. There is hope. There is healing. Start today. It doesn’t matter what your first step is, just start.
*If you are in the Kansas City area the clinic I went to in 2014 when I went back into therapy for a while was Renew Counseling Center. I looked up the therapist I saw when I first began therapy in 2008 but haven’t been able to find where she is practicing now. The dietitian I saw, and LOVE, is Kathi Bjerg, also in the Kansas City area. I saw Kathi both times I was in therapy and appreciate her so much!
*I am not a medical professional and I am in no way providing medical advice. The resources provided are my personal experiences and in no way should be used in place of medical advice from a trained professional I am just offering resources that personally helped me. If you believe you have an eating disorder, please contact a medical professional who can properly diagnose and treat you.