You’ve heard it – maybe several times – and you know it’s true, but when you are having a hard day in recovery, it can feel futile to remember that eating disorder recovery is not a linear journey. You may be having a few great days, weeks, or even months when an unexpected trigger seems to set you back. Whether your triggers lie in something someone says, a picture you see, a seasonal change, an event or gathering, the way you physically feel, or something else, you are not alone in experiencing what feels like a “low” on your journey toward recovery. And when you have hit what feels like a low point or a barrier on your journey, there will be times where you may need some eating disorder recovery reminders.

During some of my more challenging days, I benefit from reminders about my food and drink intake, and during other times, reminders about my body image are more comforting. You may have challenging days for different reasons, too. Wherever your challenges lie, you deserve to feel seen, validated, and reassured that you are on the right path, that recovery is worth it, and that you are stronger than the voice of your eating disorder. The recovery reminders below are here to help you to continue to be gentle to yourself while fighting against your eating disorder.

16 Eating Disorder Recovery Reminders for Hard Days

Eating and Drinking Reminders

  1. Challenging a fear food 10 or more times will make it easier to eat
    • Try not to be discouraged if you have tried a food that is intimidating to you two or three times and you are still feeling guilty and anxious after you take a bite. This doesn’t mean you stop trying or that you are failing; it is normal for it to take a while for you to be able to eat a fear food without heightened levels of anxiety, fear, or guilt.
  2. Eating a snack before bed will likely help you sleep
    • I don’t know about you, but I pathologized eating past 7pm when I was at the height of my struggle. This reminder is one I need often on hard (and even on not-so-hard) days.
  3. When you begin your recovery journey, much of your immediate weight gain is from you body storing extra water to replenish its glycogen levels
    • If you feel “bloated” toward the beginning of your recovery, this is likely part of the reason. 
  4. Purging and laxative use weakens the gut and can cause constipation and diarrhea
  5. If you are feeling full and, therefore, uncomfortable after a meal, remember that the feeling will lose intensity within an hour

Health and Nutrition Reminders

  1. Artificial sweeteners can cause swelling and stomach pain. They are not a “healthier” option
    • *Sigh* – Diet culture strikes again. I was supplementing with everything from Swerve “sugar” to vanilla and salt (apparently this combination is supposed to satisfy a “sweet tooth” – it did not.) as a result of all advice indicating that sugar is *the enemy.* So, a good reminder for any, like me, who fell into this trap of thinking.
  2. Low body weight and rapid weight loss contribute to depression and anxiety
    • Some of the emotions and experiences I was trying to avoid or numb only intensified as my weight dropped.
  3. Fat is the primary component of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, so eating fats benefits your mental health
  4. Vitamins can help hair regrowth if you are experiencing hair loss from nutrient deficiencies. Iron, zinc, and b vitamins are key!
    • Hair loss, brittle nails, and skin issues are common with nutrient deficiencies. If you take a multivitamin, it’s a good idea to continue so you can support your body’s needs as you continue your recovery journey.

Hear more eating disorder recovery reminders for hard days directly from Dr. Colleen Reichmann in the video below:

Body Image Reminders

  1. Every mirror is made of different glass, so they can (and do) distort your image – especially in dressing rooms!
    • This goes for cameras, too! When y
  2. Remember that many images on social media are heavily edited highlights of peoples’ lives.
    • So these are not great gauges of comparison for your own recovery journey, your body, your mental state. As wonderful as social media can be, it allows us to curate a reality that isn’t entirely representative of our authentic life experience. 
  3. Hot showers can increase water retention, which is not necessarily harmful to your health, but can affect your body image on already challenging days
  4. The insecurities that may have led you to lose weight (if you did) didn’t have to do with your weight itself; this is just how those insecurities manifested. Therefore, a smaller body does not equal a better body image.

Mental Health + Support Reminders

  1. Music, a show, and sunlight can be helpful on challenging days
    • And as we head into a season where, for many of us, sunlight is going to be harder to come by, leaning into music (or another source of comfort) can be helpful.
  2. You are allowed to unplug from social media [and your phone in general] if these things are triggering for you
    • Your absence from social media does not require an explanation (if you don’t want to give one!). Urgency culture makes us feel like we need to be present and accessible 24/7. You do not! If it takes you a while to return a DM, text message, or to otherwise interact with others via your phone because you need a break, that is more than okay. 
  3. A hard day (or series of hard days) does not mean you are going back to square one.

The Path Forward: Navigating Hard Days in Eating Disorder Recovery

You are going to have hard days. It may be weeks, months, or even years into your recovery journey. And your hard days will likely be triggered by different things at different points in your journey. Ultimately, I hope you remember that a hard day does not mean progress lost, and I hope that one or more of these eating disorder recovery reminders can help you to navigate the struggle you may be having that day equipped with truth and grace. Hard moments are to be expected during recovery, but these struggles give way to brighter, better days, days where life feels more fulfilling, and you feel more empowered to overcome the hurdles about your path to healing. 

By: Erika Muller, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC

All images via Unsplash

How Can Eating Disorder 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 emotions you may experience while on your eating disorder recovery journey, 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!

Sources Referenced:

Intuitive Psychotherapy NYC

The Emily Program