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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.



Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


Lower Antelope Canyon 478Recovery work involves developing your mind, heart, body and soul from a fragile and insubstantial state to a more mature and capable condition that is your authentic you.

You can heal your way, develop your way, grow your way out of an eating disorder.  Solid recovery from an eating disorder is not about fighting the disorder and winning.  That gives an incorrect impression that you remain the same and the eating disorder leaves.  Solid recovery occurs when you no longer need your eating disorder to cope with the stresses and challenges in your life now or in the future.  * pix

The New York Times, in the April 25, 2011 issues, ran a pessimistic article that risks leaving readers with the idea that you cannot recover

from an eating disorder or that you can recover partially but need to be prepared for a recurrence. I say, this does not have to be your story.  I'm concerned that an article like this may lead people to give up hope or even not to begin their recovery work.

When you seek help in recovering from your eating disorder you make that first call for psychotherapy because you are in pain. You don't want to "fight" your eating disorder. I doubt that you know what that might mean.  You make that call because you want your pain to stop. You want to live a better, happier, more fulfilling life.

To me, recovery work means looking at you as a whole person who is suffering but who, with healing and development, can grow beyond your current limitations so you can deal with the world without your eating disorder.  Recovery is not about bringing eating disorder symptoms to an end.  Recovery is about no longer needing your eating disorder to cope. It's about your developing the ability to have a better, happier and more fulfilling life.  Your eating disorder falls away in this process of your becoming a more complete and healthy woman.

A quote from the New York Times article, "In Fighting Anorexia, Recovery is Elusive“

I say to patients, ‘This is your Achilles’ heel,’ ” said Dr. Daniel Le Grange, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago and director of the eating disorders program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. “If you have another crisis, you’re predisposed to resorting to starvation as your way of managing that issue. It would be foolish of us as clinicians not to prepare our patients that they should be on the lookout for a recurrence.

I agree with Dr. Le Grange insofar as we prepare our patients for what may come in the future.  But my approach differs. I say to patients, once you have achieved a more solid and appreciative sense of yourself and an awareness of how you used your eating disorder behavior, your old eating disorder behaviors become helpful signals in your life. 

You may not have felt an urge to engage in your eating disorder behaviors for months or years, and then an urge is on you.  That doesn't mean you are having a relapse. It's a signal that you are encountering in your life a stress or challenge beyond your present coping abilities.

Your urge gives you notice that something is going on that needs your attention and that you need to grow stronger and more aware in order to identify and cope with it. It's a signal to be mindful, to journal, to do some short term therapy work to discover and learn what your current challenge may be.

None of us gets a guarantee that we have learned, developed or matured to a state where we will not be challenged or need to grow more or need to develop more wisdom or compassion or insight.  When eating disorder symptoms seem appealing as a short cut to relief, they are signals to a person in recovery to put more attention and effort into growing beyond her need for them.

1.   Are you in recovery?

2.   Do you, every once in a while, have eating disorder urges? 

3.   How do you take care of yourself at such times?

4.   Please share your recovery experiences.

 *pix Antelope Canyon, Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA. author: Meckimac
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Note: The magnificent Antelope Canyon presents a challenge to exploring visitors.  

We never know what challenge life will present to us next.  Often, we need to reorganize ourselves, sort through our skills and experience to see what will help us. If we come up short we need to learn new skills or attitudes or both.  The eating disorder will present itself along with other offerings from your past so that you can choose what might be useful now.  Choice is the important part to remember.  In solid recovery, when the eating disorder behavior offers itself to you it is not a relapse.  It is presented as a choice, and you can say,

"Thank you.  You were a tool for me before.  Now you are a tool because you are letting me know something I haven't thought of yet is required."

Then you move to learn, develop, hire, borrow, claim what you need to move forward.

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