woman standing on beach in sunset battling eating disorder lies, 19107, philadelphia

If you have an eating disorder, you know that the toll it takes on your mind can be as or more detrimental than the toll that it takes on your body. The eating disorder takes over your thoughts slowly and then all at once, blurring the lines between clarity and clouded. Soon, the eating disorder distorts your perception of reality, manipulates your behaviors, causing you to act on the lies it’s made you believe. In the depths of your struggle with the disorder, it’s easy to lose sight of the truth and succumb to the lies it perpetuates.

If you are in the trenches right now, or if you trying to move toward the recovery process, here is your reminder that your eating disorder is lying to you. And here are some of the eating disorder lies that you may believe now, have believed in the past, or that your eating disorder may try to convince you are true in the future.

11 Eating Disorder Lies that Could be Keeping You “Stuck”

1. The key to happiness is through discipline and control

I lost my ability to feel strong emotions when my eating disorder was at its peak. The closest I ever got to feeling happy was when I would achieve something through restriction or control (weight loss, a new workout accomplishment, feeling superior to someone around me because they were eating a brownie and I wasn’t, etc.). Your eating disorder may equate happiness with rigid control over food and/or exercise, leading you to believe that strict adherence to rules and routines will bring you joy. However, what I had lost sight of was the fact that I wasn’t feeling much of anything, and that true happiness stems from freedom from my eating disorder and flexibility to eat and exercise in a way that isn’t obligatory or restrictive, but that actually nourishes my mind and body.

2. …. And speaking of control, you’re in control

The eating disorder might make you believe that you are in control of your thoughts, actions, and behaviors when, in reality, it’s controlling you. It tricks you into thinking that your extreme rituals around food and exercise are signs of discipline rather than symptoms of a disorder.

3. Your eating disorder isn’t that bad; anyone who is concerned is lying, envious, or, at the very least, doesn’t have your best interest in mind

Your eating disorder may cause you to minimize the severity of your struggles and dismiss the genuine concerns of loved ones or healthcare professionals. I remember when someone I care about expressed concern for me, my first thought was: This person wants me to be fat. And, of course, while being fat is not a bad thing, I had a warped gauge for what was “good,” “bad,” and neutral.  When you start to recover, you realize that denying the impact of your eating disorder only perpetuates the cycle of suffering and isolation. Acknowledging your challenges and accepting support from others is courageous and will move you toward healing. 

4. . If you lose weight, your anxiety will go away

I believed that if I lost a certain amount of weight, my anxiety would melt away with it. It was only after I achieved that *magic number* that I realized that my anxiety wasn’t any better with weight loss. Ultimately, losing weight is not a way to deal with or sidestep anxiety, underlying emotional pain or mental health challenges. Addressing the root causes of your anxiety and seeking professional support are essential steps toward finding lasting peace and stability.

5. Once you gain weight, people will stop caring about you

Your eating disorder may or may exacerbate your fears of abandonment or rejection, making you believe that your worthiness of love and support is contingent on your body size or appearance. And if you believe you need to be in a small body to be loved, desired, or worthy of connection, it makes sense that you may fear the loss of love and connection if you gain weight. Authentic, genuine relationships are based on unconditional acceptance and support, regardless of physical attributes, so untethering yourself from this frame of thought is necessary for healing and connection.

6. Recovery is only for some people, and you’re not one of them

You may think that recovery is unattainable for you when you are suffering from your eating disorder. However, know that recovery is not selective – you are as worthy of recovery as anyone else. 

7. You should avoid social situations that involve food

Your eating disorder may make it seem like it’s easier to just isolate yourself from social gatherings where food is present, feeding into feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame around eating in public. And while there may be a time in your eating disorder or recovery journey where you have to set boundaries around social gatherings where food is present, this should be a choice you make out of a desire to aid in your recovery, and not one you feel you have to make that ends up perpetuating your eating disorder.

8. Thinking about food and exercise all the time is normal

The constant preoccupation with food, calories, and exercise routines may seem like a normal part of your life under the influence of your eating disorder. However, these obsessive thoughts and behaviors are symptoms of the disorder, not a reflection of normalcy. Recovery involves breaking free from obsession and finding balance and enjoyment in your relationship with food and movement.

9. The smaller you are, the more confidence you’ll have

Your eating disorder may falsely promise you increased confidence and self-esteem if you achieve a smaller body size. However, true confidence comes from self-acceptance, self-care, and embracing your body at any size. Your worth is not determined by the number on the scale.

10. You aren’t really craving that food

Your eating disorder may distort your hunger signals and convince you that cravings are signs of weakness or lack of willpower. In reality, denying yourself of foods strengthens the power your eating disorder has. It can take a while to become attuned to your hunger and fullness cues when you’re in recovery, so be kind to yourself, but know that cravings are never worthy of punishment.

11. Being skinny gives you a purpose

When you are struggling with your eating disorder, and may especially if you have had your eating disorder for a while, your eating disorder thoughts may convince you that your worth and identity are tied to your body size or appearance. When you are clouded by your eating disorder, it’s hard to actually believe that your true purpose extends far beyond the constraints of your physical form. You are worthy of love, respect, and fulfillment simply because you exist, independent of your size or shape.

Breaking Free from the Lies Your Eating Disorder Makes You Believe

When you are stuck in the cycle of disordered eating, exercising, and behavior as a result of your eating disorder, it can be hard to decipher helpful from harmful thoughts. Recognizing the unhelpful and untrue thoughts that may be ruling your behavior is an important first step toward challenging the grip your eating disorder has on your mind and reclaiming your power over it.

By: Erika Muller, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC

All images via Unsplash

How Can Wildflower Therapy in Philadelphia, PA Help You?

If you’re looking for someone to come alongside you to help you unpack and approach the the complex set of experiences and emotions that come with having and healing from an eating disorder , our therapists in Pennsylvania are honored to help!  In fact, you can get to know a little bit more about them here and book a free consultation here.

Other Mental Health Services Provided by Wildflower Therapy, Philadelphia, PA

Life is a unique and sometimes messy journey for each of us; we all have our own individual battles to fight. Our therapists know there is no one-size-fits-all approach to any of life’s challenges and because of that, we offer many unique perspectives and approaches to help meet you where you are with our Philadelphia, PA Therapy services.

We offer services for eating disorder therapy, services for anxiety, and depression, and have practitioners who specialize in perinatal mental health maternal mental healththerapy for college students and athletes. As well as LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy. As you can see, we have something to offer just about anyone in our Philadelphia, PA office. Reaching out is often the most difficult step you can take to improve your mental health. We look forward to partnering with you on this journey!