recovering from anorexia: 10 activities

what do people do when they start on their recovery from anorexia? here is a list of ten things that those who deal with this eating disorder mention most frequently. these are activities that they themselves decide on. that’s important to keep in mind. if i were to say to one of my clients, “jo, why don’t you cook a nice meal for anne and bob? you could prepare something you like and then have some yourself!”, it would quite possibly backfire. however, i’m happy when a client comes in and tells the story of doing some of these things.

(if you’d like a bit of support with any of this, drop me a line).

1. positive eating, e.g.
meeting up with a friend for lunch, even though it’s scary to eat in public
eating a healthy breakfast (not just a 1/2 cup of dry cereal)
cooking for friends – and participating in the meal afterwards

2. engaging in healthy relationships, e.g.
choosing to go to a movie with a friend rather than staying home surfing the internet
setting boundaries with a sibling
discussing the relationship with a partner or girl/boyfriend

3. walking away from unhealthy eating behaviours, e.g.
no purging
no declining to eat in public
talking to a friend about something that makes you angry rather than starving over it

4. gentle exercise and resting, e.g.
taking a half-hour walk rather than going for a one-hour run
skipping gym for a day
resting when tired, rather than drinking black coffee

5. positive self-talk, e.g.
“i am someone, and beautiful to boost!”
“the world is not a fearful place”
“it’s no big deal. each day is just a chance to try out new things.”

6. honesty, e.g.
not saying “fine!” with a fake smile every time someone asks “how are you”
being totally honest about food with at least one person
not bottling up feelings of fear and ambivalence when having sex

7. doing nice things for yourself, e.g.
getting a long overdue haircut
going shopping for “normal” clothes (not clothes that will hide the body)
just spending a nice day – maybe reading, going to a movie, sleeping in

8. spending quiet time with your feelings, e.g.
journaling
crying
creative visualization

9. professional help, e.g.
seeing a psychotherapist
attending group
making that long overdue appointment with the nutritionist

10. positive body image, e.g.
going to the beach in a bathing suit
spending time in front of the mirror
having sex in broad daylight

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

234 thoughts on “recovering from anorexia: 10 activities

  1. Belinda

    Hi All, Stumbled across this site the other day while looking at other Helpful E.D sites.
    My name is Belinda and i’m 26 from Australia.
    I First was Diagnosed with Anorexia when i was 17, i somehow got my self sorted by my self but thn 2 years later started to relaps. before i got really dragged back into the terror of annorexia i fell preganat with my daughter, it saved my life… my annorexia seemed to just dissapear!! i never really gave it a thought, i was the healthiest i had been in a long time, i then fell pregnant again but this time the annorexia started to creep back in… by the time my son had turned one it was starting to control my life again.. by the time he was 2 i had been in hospital twice and had to be admitted into an in-patient facility for 5 months!!
    i have been home now for almost 6 months now and although i have a more positive outlook on recovery it’s like there is a wall i just can not get over. I decide i will try and gain a bit more weight, i gain a bit freak out and then loose it again. I do eat ok now, but my problem is, is that my motabolizim goes crazy when i start eating regular healthy meals. When i had to stay in the clinic they thought i was doing things to not gain weight… but i wasn’t. In order for me to gain weight i have to eat an obcene amount of food!! My husband was in total shock over the amount of food was on my meal plan to get me to gain such a tiny tiny amount. I eventually gained some weight and am alot happier, i need to gain more but i just can’t seem to do it. I look at my beautiful kids and get angry at myself and think ” what does it matter if i am thin or fat?? my kids are important … not how many kj’s or cal are in an apple or a piece of bread” I dont want to set a bad example for my daughter. I have had lots of therapy but nothing seems to trigger what is still holding me back. Why cant i move past my “magic number” ?
    I understand those of you having trouble with the Binge issues. I have been throught this and also started bulemic practises because of my junk food binges… My advice for this ( from my dietician) If you are eating enough “healthy food” from all food groups you will not binge eat. I have found this true for my self. It took a long time for me to let my self believe this and follow a plan and make sure i had a sandwhich etc for lunch… ( i had an intense fear of bread) a diet that consists of 3 meals and 3 snacks is alot better than a binge on chocolate biscuits ice cream etc etc. I had got to a point that i would not allow anything in my pantry that i thought i would binge on, with 2 kids that is rather horrible… it ment my cuboards were rather bare! ( hard to make school lunches) I now have cuboards full of food… i eat my 3 meals and 3 snacks,.. it is still a struggle… i go through waves of looking forward to my next meal because i’m starting to enjoy food, to fear and anxiety of my next meal because i dont want it to make me fat… and fear of skipping meals and being back in hospital away from my family.
    I understand the “set point theory” But it scares me, i’m scared to find out what my set point is.
    I’d love to stay where i am at, but my doctors tell me i wont get rid of my annorexic thoughts untill i am within the healthy weight range.
    It’s just so unbelievably hard!
    Sorry i have typed so much and it’s all over the place… i could type and type for days about my story… just typing all thay i keep thinking.
    Wishing you all the best in your battles and your road to recovery
    Thanx for all your posts they have been helpful and make me feel not so alone in my illness

  2. Caloric

    hi, im helping my friend overcome her anorexia nervosa.
    Hers is a mild case, slightly underweight but is a super calory counter.
    Any suggestion where I should start?
    Please advice.

    Regards
    .-= Caloric´s last blog ..1st Post: 100510 =-.

  3. aliyah

    hey caloric i suggest that you try to encourage her to eat reguarly, so suggest things like why dont we go out for dinner today or try this new chcolate bar thats out.
    Aat the heart of anorexia lies a phobia of gaining weight, and an obsession with food, so i suggest nice compliments to boost her confidence, and hionestly just be there for any form of advice and support.
    ur a lovely friend for doing this for her x

  4. pinker

    hi everyone, i just wanted to say something to Sofie. im recovering from anorexia and i recognise pretty much everything you say about your thoughts on food and weight as what I was thinking at the beginning. I know you’re not a dangerously low weight at the moment but I really think you should try and get help as soon as possible because from what you say it sounds like you’re on a downward spiral and it gets out of control so quickly. You won’t put on weight until you eat 2500 calories EVERY day (trust me its a LOT harder than you think), in fact you’ll just keep on losing weight. and I know that you probably won’t trust me when I say that because i didnt trust the professionals saying it to me but unfortunately its true and you will just keep on losing weight otherwise. and the more weight you lose the more your brain will make you obsess over it…sorry this sounds like a story of doom I just wanted to make the point. if you’re seeing someone about your depression maybe you can talk to them? but don’t be put off if they don’t understand, there are specialists for a reason. anyway, i hope I havent scared you i just think you should try and do something about it now x x x

  5. Ebony

    heeey girlies, ive been trying to recover myself cause we just dont have the money for therapy or anything like that, im not horribly skinny i could do with an extra 4 kilos or so and i eat 3 meals and snacks a day i also exercise and play soccer, but im on the verge of anorexia nervosa i obsess over food and have a fear of gaining weight, can anyone help me out with a right food and exercise plan and what amounts are right to eat ? i just wanna be happy again like at school i used to be call GB for ghettobooty cause everybody loved my butt hahaha i miss my butt and boobs i wasnt fat i was just built i guess but i let the exercise and less amounts of food get to me and i lost 17kgs but i weigh 49kg now but im not dagerously skinny but i fear if i eat i will put all my weight back on ? i hate being like this i love kim kardashians and beyonces body i think they are gorgeous and are perfect body image girls what real women should look like im just scared ill put all my weight back on because everyody seems to say no one ever keeps the weight off they pile it back on and even more and the obsession of food and gaining weight is driving me insane can anyone help me ? i aslo binge out like a lunatic on sultanas im obsessed once i start i cant stop is this bad to eat all the time ?

  6. aliyah

    hi ebony, the problem with eating disorders is that they are so complex and obsessions lie at the heart of it.
    Its good urnot too underweight and that you admire bodies such as beyonce. obsession gets worse as u lose weight, thats why anorexia is such a destructive diseases, the more u lose the more u obsess and the more u keep losing.
    The best thing is to REgain whatever u lost, u wont keep gaining and gaining, thats the most common worry and its false because ur body has a set point it works best at, and when u get to it, and listen to ur hunger cues ull just maintain ur weight.
    for bingeing, try to put a few with you, so say u binge and have 12 usually, put 4 with you, and just eat them and then tel yourself thats it, if i feel like another i can have it later.
    the sultanans are always going to be there. but i can relate it is hard, and it reqires will power. I used to have to eat a whole bunch of grapes, i cud never eat a handful or whatever, and now i can. its possible x

  7. Ebony

    when you say a set body weight does that mean you eat whatever you want whenever you want or ? thank you for the advice its helps :) i just wanna go back to normal i miss going out with myfriends and eating what they eat its just so hard

  8. aliyah

    a set point is a healthy weight for ur body, where u eat a similar amount of food every day. It doesnt mean u can eat whatever u want , whenever and never gain weight, it just means thats a body where u dont feel severe obsessions, and a weight that stays similar by eating similar amounts of food. It means somedays u mite eat lesss, some days more but if u listen to ur hunger signals u will be fine :)
    Nothing will happen by adding carbs except good things! U will have more energy, and more varied diet and good nutrition. never cut out carbs, no wonder u have obsessions ebony. Cutting out food is really serious, but u can get back to a stage where u can go out and enjoy food with friends x

  9. Sofie

    Hey!
    Pinker, thanks for your message. Though i was unwilling to admit it when you first posted, I now think that i am a little on a downward spiral. I did mention it to my psychologist who was seriously worried but didn’t quite understand…
    I tried eating a little more for a while and ended up binging and probably eating about 1700 – 2000 calories a day but freaked out when i felt that i was gaining weight so restricted quite badly for about 3 weeks. I lost weight quite rapidly but kind of freaked out after the weekend because i felt seriously dizzy and sick after going running. I’m eating again (a little) at the moment but have a few questions.
    Is it true that you can become infertile through restriction?
    How do i deal with my parents? (they found me purging the other day) So far they have been trying to force me to eat but my stomach cramps up and i can’t actually physically eat what they’re trying to make me eat.
    I’m absolutely terrified of not being in control of how much weight i could gain if i start eating again because my parents refuse to have any weighing scales in the house…
    Hope everyone is doing well!
    x

  10. stubborn

    Hi,
    i am a very independent driven 22yr old. i have recovered from anorexia-partially-over the last two years so family and friends would stop worrying about me. i now weigh 60kg at 170cm(is this pretty standard?)
    i know i need to eat a certain amount each day, which i manage to do, but i cant comfortably eat during the day in front of anyone. i calorie count everything. i never stop thinking about food-sometimes i cook so i dont feel like im obsessing over food, im merely thinking about the task at hend…
    i hate eating big meals and tend to have bites of food i.e never just one big thing. i feel as if i am tricking myself by having ‘half a biscuit’ even though i end up having another half…in my head i didnt have ‘a whole biscuit’. does this make sense to anyone? should i see someone? and how do i find someone to see if i should? thankyou, and thanks for posting so much on this blog-it is really helpful

    ps: does anyone else look in the mirror every single chance they get, i am always touching the fat on my legs and arms etc

  11. csmilie123

    Hi Stubborn,
    Right now I understand that what I tell you seems impossible. I know that because I have been exactly where you are now. Day by day, bit by bit, inch by inch, it gets easier. I did not believe it possible when I was where you are and I’m not saying it will ever go away completely. However, by doing what you are doing right now you are so on the right road and you must not be so hard on yourself. The first step is to feel some level of control while holding your weight steady and personally I began pretty much doing and feeling as you do now. I’m 10 years on from there now and life is no bed of roses and I have my ‘fat’ days when I feel gross and panicked but it is by no means every day. In fact it is rare now. I can concentrate now and have regained my sense of humour and interest in things other than food. I do still worry about weight and food but nothing like I used to. I didn’t believe I could recover even to this level when I was where you are now but I promise you it is possible. I know because I have done it.
    All the best and hang in there because it will be worth all the fighting one day.

  12. stubborn

    Thankyou csmilie123.
    I feel crazy going on a blogg but you wrote back and it helps. im glad you mentioned the word panicked, sums up a lot of how i feel. can i ask what helped you the most to move on from the self body obsession? im not sure what to do to help myself…focus on healthy eating? ignore the topic altogether? i flicker between thoughts of a psychiatrist or a nutritionist. im not sure if you have any tips? well done for getting to where you are by the way :-)

  13. aliyah

    hey stubborn- its great u are recovering, but yeah your still experiencing lots of ana symtpms, the half a biscuit, few bite thing is ana, its to mae u feel like u havent eaten as much as u have. ur better off eating the whole biscuit.
    you shud contact ur doctor, who can refer u to a psychologist or counceller. its good to get ur feelings out.
    its also important to remember that , recovery is about REgaining back the weight u lost, and thsat ur body is not going to change dramatically. recovery is about establishing a healthy relaitonship with food and your body now.
    good luck x

  14. Yensterzz

    well some of these things i do…i still to young to do the last one hehehehe
    …anyways im really young and in my growing age,i think i became anorexia because of my orriginal goal that was to become slim for someone,but then in the end my feelings were gone for that someone but i still kept on my diet, i lost about 40 pounds and then as i noticed i kept losing and losing more,i was even hospitalized for dehydrate and for an inflamed small intestine,after i got out (they said i was ok,i was just dehydrated) my mom brought me to a psychotherapist who told e to take this med. call remeron soltab…tsk

  15. Jess

    First of all, it is REALLY nice to look at this site because it’s nice to see that other people feel the same way as me, and a lot of times I don’t have the words to describe what I am feeling, and this site provides me with those means of description.
    I am only 15 years old and therefore I’m not entirely sure about the criteria for posting on this site, but when I was 11 or 12 I began to purge any food I would put in my body because I became terrified of gaining weight due to puberty. My family is naturally underweight, and I was born into this tradition, and I usually ate as I pleased – I don’t remember much about previous eating habits. Once I started to purge my food, I didn’t really notice a significant weight loss, and after a year or so I stopped and I recovered for about two years.
    Then, about thrree months ago, I got sick with a cold and I didn’t eat much. I noticed that I was losing the weight I had gained from those previous two years of recovery, in which I had become a normal weight which in my eyes (and in my family’s eyes, may I point out) was “fat.” I discovered that I didn’t want to eat whenever food was put in front of me, although I would spend horus pining and obsessing over it. I went from 48 kg to 38 kg in two months.
    Although my mom is a part of the problem, she does care about me and can’t see that she is a part of the problem, and she took me to the doctor. I was given blood tests and set up in an eating disorder treatment program, complete with dietitian, psychologist, and doctor. I am currently in this program and have been for a month now.
    I’d like to say first off of the bat that anorexia is often portrayed as quite a positive thing. Although I would love to tell you all that I do not feel superior to other people and I hate anorexia, I don’t. I hate having the label and I absolutely hate being monitored, however I take pleasure in seeing how other people can’t resist food and I love seeing skinny girls and knowing I am as thin as they are. Anorexia is portrayed positively throughout the media, which people here tons of bullshit about constantly, however, anorexia is also portrayed very positively through “real people” on sites such as tumblr and flickr – i used to see pictures of really skinny, gorgeous vintage girls all of the time that were so beautiful in the photographs and these were half of the trigger for my anorexia for me.
    Anyway, I am currently working towards getting better. In TOTAL and complete 10000000% agreement with the comments above me, it feels to me like a lot of people are just excpecting me to get better. WIthin a week of my professional diagnosis my dietitian gave me a list of foods to eat in a day and upped my caloric intake by about 2000 calories so that I could gain back the weight I have lost. She gets angry when I do not eat what she gives me some days, and I think it is so stupid how she just assumes this is hard but i can overcome it so quickly. I have quite a large fear of becoming like the girls on here; bloated and miserable because everyone is forcing them to gain weight. I really do hope that there is a possible way for me to feel healthy and be healthy without being fat.
    I will follow up again some day, I’m sorry this was so long! It felt nice to get this off my chest. I want to get better from this eating disorder, I really do, but I wish that the people trying to fix me were not going about it in such a way. I really hope someone understands me

  16. Sofie

    Hey Jess,
    Totally understand how you feel.
    I too felt that people didn’t understand how hard it was to start eating normal amounts again, and i can understand how you think that it’s unfair that everyone just expects you to get better now you have help! I was in a similar situation as my parents thought that once i was seeing people the problem would go away in a few weeks.
    The best advice i can give you is to keep going with it anyway. The first time you realise you’ve gained weight will be scary, probably even the second time, however as you go on it gets better and you stress out about it less. I’ve been eating properly for about half a year now and i’m back to the weight that i was before i started. I can guarantee you that though you might feel bloated and stuff when you first start, it gets alot better over time! Stick with it and eventually (though it’ll be a hard road to tread!) you’ll learn to be comfortable with the weight you gain and you won’t feel bloated when you eat.
    Another piece of advice i would give you is to be honest with the people around you (ie, your mother). Try to have an honest discussion with her about the fact that you think that she is part of the problem. You’ll find that she probably just wants the best for you and has misunderstood how you’ve reacted to her.
    I’m glad you realise that you CAN gain weight without becoming ‘fat’. Your aim to become ‘healthy’ is great. Keep on going with trying to eat more and more every day over time you’ll become more confident with your body.
    Most importantly of all, don’t give up! Try to think of some really important reason’s that you want to start eating again (personal ones, not ones that others tell you!) and keep that in mind every time you hesitate in putting a piece of food into your mouth.
    And don’t worry about ending up “bloated and miserable”, though theres a period where you won’t be happy about gaining weight and will definately feel bloated, it gets better and soon you’ll find everything getting slightly better. For me, i found that my mood increased dramatically, my hair started shining again, i lost a whole heap of the pimples on my face, i started sleeping again (i had horrible insomnia) and people commented on how much more confident i seemed.
    I wish you all the best!

  17. stubborn

    hi,
    i am wondering-and severly stressing-about my metablolism after starving myself during bouts of aneorexia. now that i am eating- i dont have as much as anyone around me yet i still seem to put on weight-despite exercising a lot. will i always just haev to eat less as my body has learnt to run on little energy? im scared ill just keep putting more and more weight on and i dont understand why everyone seems to eat so much more and stay the same size. does anyone find this prob? or have any suggestions? the only thing i can think of is to see a nutritionist but i would love to avoid the expense.

    thanks for any thoughts or comments at all!

  18. anonymous

    I don’t know whether I count as anorexic, exactly, but I definitely have issues with food, and I don’t know how to get over it. I’ve always been a little underweight, and I always get shit about it at home. My mom always tries to push food on me. The thing is, I’m aware that I’m underweight, so I often try to push food on myself. Especially junk food. I eat way too much junk food, and tell myself it’s good for me because I need to gain weight. But then I feel really sick because I’ve eaten so much junk food. So then I can’t eat normally. Like hate when my mom pushes extra food on me at dinner because she doesn’t realize how much crap I ate earlier. It’s a really unhealthy cycle. I’m also really stressed out about my future and about some things that happened in my past. And I eat as a way of dealing with stress. It’s like my life revolves around food. How do I go back to normal?

    p.s. Yeah, it feels good just to say this. I’ve never told anyone any of this. It’s too fucked up, and everyone thinks I’m basically fine.

  19. shelbie

    what made yall wanna go bulmic for? is it good for overweight people bc im stressing over weight i just want to be that way to see how it is and maybe be that way

  20. Tammy

    I have a 14 year old daughter suffering from anorexia. It breaks my heart watching her suffer. It all started when she was 12, after bringing her to the doctor for two months because her weight was dropping and she wouldn’t eat much. The doctor sent us to the hospital for tests and they admitted her that day. I didn’t notice the three layers of clothes she had on that day. She was 12 and did all her personal care on her own. She was skipping meals and throwing away her lunches at school. I feel like I am on a wave, and I want off. My daughter started high school, I noticed her looking thin. She started throwing away her lunch at school because she was stressed out (she says). I have her on ensure again to get her weight up.(I weigh her every couple months but I can tell buy her attitude when she is down in weight) Does this ever end?

  21. Comqzbpo

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  23. Jemma

    Hello Guys
    I used to use this website for my recovery with Anorexia and I have come such a long way… I have times do not get me wrong, and when I have a bad time with something my eating tends to get the brint of it.. But on the whole I am getting there… I neatrly died and hope none of you have to go throughb what I did, and recovery and a life is so much more enjoyable and worth while than what Anna can get…
    Id love tp be able to help anyone who has questions about how I got better and stratergies that i used to cope with every day recovery… Things dont happen over night and it has taken me about 4 years to get to a stable weight (still under weight but better than where I was ) but I am there and I wuoldnt change it for the world…
    By the looks of things some people are talking about things that have nothing to do with this site and hope they stop as this site helped me more than anything and shouldnt be abused in such a way.
    Eat well be happy and most of all be healthy.

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