In The Moment With Mindy
My Body In Recovery
Recovery. I don’t know how to describe it. I’m done trying to define or explain it simply because the process is so different for everyone. This can often lead to confusion while in recovery, something even I experience. What should a body in recovery look like?
On separate occasions, I have been treated at EDCare for both anorexia and bulimia. I have been on either side of the spectrum for my weight, swinging on a pendulum trying to control where I want to be.
I am currently relying on the wisdom from my dietitian, Kristine Brubaker, RD. By learning to listen to and fulfill the natural needs of my body – my body will take care of itself. I’m choosing to believe that I can be healthy and in recovery at any weight, shape, or size. I am slowing learning to let go of my perceived need to control how my body looks in recovery.
Q&A with Kristine Brubaker, RD, Director of Clinical Nutrition at EDCare Denver and Recovery Advocate Mindy
Why is Restriction an Eating Disorder Behavior if I have a bigger body?
The last few months, I have had a few slips in recovery. Nothing major but enough to cause me to reach out to Kristine to ensure the eating disorder was not sneaking back into my life. I recorded a few weeks of meal logs for her to point out any inconsistencies of my view of food and exercise. I reported being “behavior free”. Kristine pointed out, “You are still restricting which is a behavior.” I immediately responded, “I feel like because I’m overweight that restriction isn’t really a behavior. Isn’t it okay to restrict since I have a bigger body?” She looked at me and said, “Restricting is still a behavior.” I didn’t understand.
Kristine Brubaker, RD explains:
Your body requires a certain amount of fuel daily in order to function at its best. Metabolic changes occur with restriction. The body’s metabolism slows down, in order to prevent it from going into the starvation phase. When you restrict, the brain receives signals that it is hungry and requires food for fuel, which can make it difficult to eat mindfully. This increase in appetite can lead to over-eating or bingeing later in the day. Your weight may increase during this time period due to metabolic changes. In addition, restriction can lead to self-deprivation, shame and guilt.
Everything in recovery feels counterintuitive to what my eating disorder and our culture has taught me. I understand for my body to be strong and healthy, I can’t binge, overeat, purge, or over exercise. However, due to the messages I hear from women daily, diet culture, trainers, media, and even doctors, I still believe restriction is a good thing for my body. I’ve been praised by others for “being so good with food.” I have even patted myself pridefully on the back for my willpower to restrict in hopes of losing a few pounds. So, how is restriction a behavior in my body that is often classified by physicians as having high BMI?
Kristine Brubaker, RD responds:
The human body is genetically predisposed to a variety of shapes and sizes. There is no “one size fits all”. A person’s BMI is not an accurate determinant of health and wellness. The focus should be on self-acceptance and self-care. When you feel confident in your body, then you will most likely make positive choices.
My willingness to accept Kristine’s recommendations has been difficult. Managing everyday life stressors on top of recovery can be burdensome. I keep waiting for Kristine to tell me something different about what I need to do in recovery, but she never does. Deep down I am I’m glad. I trust her and I trust myself! I know my successes and failures both professional and academically are not dependent on the size of my body. I know in my heart the solid friendships I have in life have nothing to do with the number on the scale, the size of my jeans, or what my body looks like. My friends, and I have amazing ones, love me for who I am and how I deeply I love others.
Day by day I choose to let the eating disorder thoughts pass and instead listen as my own voice gets stronger and stronger! It empowers me to provide my body with the nutrients and movement it needs to function at its best for the rest of my life!
For those in treatment or seeking treatment please remember this – trust your treatment team! They really do care, are professionally trained to help us, and care for our well-being!