Physical Effects of Anorexia Recovery: Response to Personal Story


The Question: How can I stop my eating disorder behavior? Answer: Rethink the question or you'll be caught in a control trap.

Shelley's response

As Shelley so eloquently reveals in her comment responding to Wendeline's story, effective recovery work begins when the eating disorder behaviors around food begin to subside. That's when your emotional challenges reveal themselves. That's when your body reels and goes into shock at the massive change in how it is nourished and cared for. The idea that eating after starving or holding after purging or eating in a balanced way after regularly bingeing is the whole answer for recovery is so very wrong.

Why you develop an eating disorder: challenges and triggers

You develop eating disorder behaviors as a way of caring for yourself. It's not a good way, but it's the best you can do at the time. You use these behaviors because you don't have access to any other way to care for yourself when you meet certain challenges. The challenges vary with each person. But some challenges you share with others who have an eating disorder. Such challenges are called triggering events.

Separation is such a challenge, aka trigger. Returning to the scene of painful experience is a challenge, aka trigger. Entering an environment that reminds you of a painful experience - if you haven't worked it through psychologically and emotionally - is a challenge, aka trigger.

When you face such a challenge/trigger without using your eating disorder behaviors around food then what have you got? Without healing, support and recovery you are terrified with no way protection.

Blocking emotional pain

You can bear that agony for just so long. Then you revert to your tried and true savior, the eating disorder, or move on to something else that floods your emotional system. You may use drugs or alcohol or sex or shoplifting or raging tantrums or cutting, or moving around fast accomplishing nothing. Anything that gives a rush or the feeling of momentum will distract you from those unbearable feelings.

Physical and emotional effects of anorexic or restrictive bulimic recovery

So yes, Shelley, I agree with what you say,

"Realistically I know I can’t expect that suddenly my physical body will “adjust” and be normal and healthy overnight after so many years of abusing it. It’s literally healing itself, and that takes a lot of time. It’s why I’m so tired all the time. My body is using it’s energy to regenerate new cells and heal my internal organs. I’ve been told that just for my liver to heal itself takes up to two years. I have to be patient, and give it the rest and sleep it needs to heal."


I add to that, your capacity to hold and digest our emotions, to process your life experiences in a normal and healthy way so you can live a satisfying life also takes time, rest, and healing. Your inner sense of being needs to regenerate. You need to develop what you truly didn't have before so you can meet your challenges well.

Sign of recovery

One measure of recovery then can be when you notice that your challenges are not triggers. In recovery yur challenges bring up, not eating disorder behaviors, but strong assertive energy based on a solid sense of self and a willingness to fuel strategic thinking with your life force.

Thank you again, Shelley and Wendeline, for sharing your courageous healing stories with us.

Readers, how can you rethink the question, "how can I stop my eating disorder behaviors?" Can you get below that question and ask, "How can I develop the strength, health

and resources to to experience my challenges without resorting to eating disorder behavior?  If you can, then your questions are, "How am I dong so far?" "What will help me continue on my recovery path?"

Please share your responses to these questions for the sake of your own recovery and for people who share your situation.

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