Living in a Diet Culture... Tips on Eating Disorder Recovery
Updated: Aug 31
By: Abby Emmert & Gabby Morreale
Diet Culture and Eating Disorders
This topic seemed to repeat itself a lot this week. Many clients we work with struggle in their recovery as they find themselves surrounded by a culture obsessed with the thin ideal.
Often they find themselves trying to maintain their recovery in a world that is pushing them back into their eating disorder. We live in a world where disordered eating, diet culture, beauty standards, and so many disordered thoughts are praised and encouraged. Honestly, it's gross.
Imagine trying to recover from alcohol addiction but doing it in an alcohol store. You’re trying to recover from something that has completely altered your life. However, you’re doing it within the same environment that fueled those behaviors or thoughts in the first place. This is a recipe for disaster.
Recovery is all about trying to heal from maladaptive patterns that once seemed to serve you but then began to deplete you. But that can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true when everywhere you look you’re reminded of what turned you toward your eating disorder in the first place.
Tips for Maintaining Eating Disorder Recovery
We want to offer some tips to encourage you in these harder moments. If you are recovering or helping somebody recover, these tips may strengthen you when you are questioning your recovery or yourself.
One tip may seem obvious. We always give people the example of gardening when we are comparing their recovery and their environment. Imagine having a flower out in your garden in your backyard. It has been struggling and dying for quite some time. Rather than just pulling it out and throwing it away you decide you’re going to plant it in a new pot. Then you bring it inside to try and bring it back to life.
After giving it so much love and time and attention, it comes back to life and looks wonderful, healthy even. So, you decide to go put it back out in the spot that you pulled it from in the first place. But if nothing has changed about that environment that it originally came from, what makes you think that it will remain healthy? I compare recovery to this example in a couple of ways.
Environmental Triggers for Eating Disorder Recovery
There are most likely environmental triggers and social factors that influenced your eating disorder and got you here in the first place. You’ve done all of this hard work to get yourself here and you have done a lot of undoing in the process.
To then throw yourself back into the same environment that triggered you in the first place and expect different results is almost the definition of insanity. That’s why we have to make sure the environment has changed or that you’re prepared to recognize the triggers when they pop up again.
One example of doing this can be thinking about the people in your life that may have triggered you. Think about conversations you can have with them to help them understand what they may say or do that puts you back into that mindset of dieting and disordered eating.
Talk to them about it and assert your needs. Set boundaries! You are allowed! Also, take space from these people if needed. If people are not receptive to your needs, it is okay to acknowledge that.
Simply throwing yourself back into the environments where friends or friends' moms are making comments the same way they used to can be incredibly triggering and unhealthy. Although you are trying to grow they have not. Remind yourself that they don’t know better than you, and set those boundaries!
Social Media Clean Up
Another example is to go through things on social media or on your phone that you may consume without even realizing it. These can be accounts that feature diets or diet tips. Influencers that talk about their workout and their bodies. Or, just friends that you see posting things that make you feel incredibly triggered.
This is a great time to mute or unfollow accounts. Remind yourself that recovery comes with learning to set boundaries, and boundaries are a good thing! Especially when they are enhancing your recovery.
YOU Are the Expert on You
Another tip that I remind a lot of clients about is to not think that other people know better than you. I think many of us feel this way at some point. We may hear someone say something about diet, eating, or our bodies that made us think that they knew better than we did. This is simply not true!
Whatever it was, and whatever “tip” (eye roll) they shared, we probably then internalized it. We think, "this person knows better than I do and I can’t take the risk that what they’re saying is wrong". So we believe these statements and start to change the way that we think about ourselves and our food or exercise choices to meet their expectations.
This is often the result of a fear or trauma response depending on the individual. I am here to tell you...YOU ARE THE EXPERT ON YOU!!! Now I'm not referring to your ED voice here I am talking to your true self or healthy brain! You know you best!
The Dangers of Non-Professional Eating Disorder Advice
There is danger in this, which we can see on Tic Tok with 13-year-olds giving nutrition advice. Anybody can come up with a random statement that they feel is true regardless of whether it is backed by evidence or not. They can then share it with other people in a very public or viral manner and present it as fact.
Everyone's recovery is unique and should be treated as such. When you’re in recovery you will have done more work educating yourself than other people. So as you find yourself moving towards recovery and learning the truth about taking care of yourself, remember other people have not done that work.
You Have the Power
This is where setting boundaries and finding your voice are key! (I feel another article coming on this! ) You are in recovery and have done this work for a reason.
You have all the tools And the knowledge you need to make the correct decisions for your body. Your decisions about yourself and your body do not need to reflect whatever feelings other people have about their bodies. Especially if they are still on that diet culture nonsense.
Closing Thoughts on Eating Disorder Recovery
Also remember the only people who should be giving you eating disorder guidance is your treatment team and those whom you have deemed “safe”, not those still drinking the DC Kool-aid. The only person you answer to is yourself! This is called Autonomy! The process of regaining autonomy from your ED and applying that in your day-to-day life can feel overwhelming. But it is also empowering and we promise it's worth it!
Recovered and Restored Eating Disorder Therapy Center
If you find that your eating disorder has taken over your life, our online therapy services in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Florida are here to help you regain control safely and effectively. We are a team that specializes in eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and orthorexia! Led by recovered individuals that understand where you are at on your journey, we want nothing more than to help you live your best life! If you are thinking about reaching out for help here are some basic steps to get you started on the path to healing.
Fill out our quick and easy contact form online and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.
Now that you’ve reached out, take a minute to get to know our team here. We encourage you to get to know us, our specializations, and our credentials.
Begin your journey to health and wholeness! You CAN do this!
Other Mental Health Services Offered Online in PA, NJ, DE, and FL
At our eating disorder therapy center we understand that every journey to healing is unique and has its own path to follow. That’s why we offer a wide variety of services related to eating disorder recovery, not just therapy! We also offer Trauma therapy, Weekly Support Groups, Nutrition Services, and Family and Parent Therapy and Coaching all tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual. We offer our services online in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida! If there is something you need on this journey of eating disorder recovery we are here to offer our support and understanding in a safe and non-judgemental environment.
We have immediate openings right now for eating disorder therapy in:
Delaware, New Jersey, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
And recovery coaching worldwide.
Recovered and Restored is an eating disorder therapy center founded by Gabrielle Morreale. We specialize in helping teens and young women heal from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and binge eating disorder and treat disordered eating, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We provide eating disorder therapy in the towns of Horsham, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Blue Bell, Doylestown, and nearby towns with eating disorder therapy. Also providing virtual eating disorder therapy in New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. Some towns served virtually but are not limited to Pittsburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Center City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Mount Laurel, Cape May, Avalon, Brick, Dover, New Castle, Bethany Beach, Marydel, and Oceanview.
Click here to get started with therapy today! : https://www.recoveredandrestoredtherapy.com/.