Wins in Disordered Eating Recovery

There are so many goals to set and wins to celebrate in disordered eating recovery. When you’re doing the important work of un-learning diet culture and healing your relationship with food, fitness and body image, you are able to reconnect with your God-given intuition and achieve so much more for your health.

The trajectory of disordered eating recovery looks different for everyone. Pace. Highs. Lows. Behaviors to unlearn. Individual reasons why you were so entangled in diet culture to begin with. And the approach in which you heal. Recovery is unique to you. But I can say there are some goals and wins that seem to be pretty common!

When you’re at the very beginning of your disordered eating recovery journey, the thought of accomplishing some of these may seem impossible. But I assure you they are very possible! It may not be easy at first, but they’re definitely achievable.

I have the honor of working with chronic dieters every day, who are accomplishing wins like these. Here is a list of some of my favorite wins in disordered eating recovery.

I ate breakfast today.

Eating breakfast is a huge win! Especially if you’re someone who did intermittent fasting or actively denied your hunger by drowning it with coffee. To wake up, feel your hunger cues, honor your hunger, prepare yourself food, and eat it. That’s a huge step in the right direction of intuitive eating!

I’ve shared before that getting in touch with my hunger cues after years of intermittent fasting was a real struggle for me during my recovery. I had to work hard at this, and now I’m so happy to be part of the breakfast club.

I didn’t track condiments or snacks in MyFitnessPal

When work to stop being obsessed with micro-managing your food. And no longer let food tracking apps override your own intuition. It is a BIG deal to start weening yourself off food tracking. Accomplishing this goal means you are starting to trust your body more. You’re recognizing that tracking your food prevents you from listening to your body. This also can have a positive snowball effect in creating opportunity for you to stop measuring and controlling your portions as well.

I struggled to delete MyFitnessPal after years and years of food tracking. No matter what diet I did, food tracking was always the common thread that kept me deep in the pit of diet culture. It’s hard to let go of the perceived control that tracking gives you. But once you do, you can really get in touch with your hunger and fullness cues.

I chose veggies because I WANTED them. Not because of a meal plan.

If you’re coming from a diet culture background of Whole30, Clean Eating or Paleo, it’s a particularly big moment when you voluntarily select veggies because you want to and not because they’re “approved.”

After spending decades eating only “good” clean foods it can feel confusing to trust yourself around God-made foods again. Are you falling into old patterns that dieting taught you? Or do you really enjoy those veggies? Once you’re able to distinguish that you want something, it means you’re getting back in touch with your intuition. It’s also an opportunity to realize your body craves nutrients. This realization helps you start to trust that your body will always make sure it gets what it needs to thrive.

As a Certified Nutritionist and a former Whole30-er, I understand this dilemma on a deep level! Part of Intuitive Eating is neutralizing foods and ditching the diet mentality of “good” versus “bad” food labeling. The non-diet mentality is often presented as making baked goods and potato chips okay to eat whenever. But it’s also getting rid of the elitist dogma that only whole foods are “good.”

I got on the elliptical for 10 minutes because I felt restless and knew it would help release my nervous energy.

This is another big win in disordered eating recovery. It’s recognizing the benefit exercise will provide YOU in this moment. It’s not about muscle gains or weight loss. Or burning calories or following a specific workout. Nor about a benefit that others might be impressed by in your appearance. Exercise is about a true health benefit: your mental health and pent up energy. This win is also a realization that 10 minutes of joyful, desired movement makes a positive difference.

Separating diet culture from exercise can be one of the most difficult parts of ditching diet culture. It takes effort to unlearn calories burned, length of time and noticeable results are all that matter. I personally chose not to workout for the better part of a year just to ensure it wouldn’t become a stumbling block in my recovery. When I reintroduced it, I was further along in Intuitive Eating. And could trust that I wasn’t using exercise to justify my food choices.

I haven’t weighed or measured myself in a month.

This often happens early on when you’re ditching diet culture. But it’s still a big win in my book! Since diet culture’s only measurement of “success” is appearance-based, it’s pretty fantastic when you can stop using the scale or measurement to check your progress.

We had pizza for dinner and I ordered my favorite topping AND a salad because it sounded good.

Particularly if you’re someone who came from a highly restrictive, low-calorie diet, the application of “this AND that” thinking is a huge win! It’s enjoying the same meal as the rest of your family. But the willingness to add more food to make it the balanced meal you really desire. Like voluntarily choosing the veggies, this is a positive sign of replacing diet mentality with the non-diet mentality, as well as trusting your intuition on what to eat.

Instead of starting a new diet when my pants got tight, I bought a new pair in a larger size.

This. is. an. AMAZING WIN! This is the goal right here.

One of my clients earlier this week accomplished this exact goal. She shared that she had gained weight and her pants were too tight. She initially freaked out (which is okay!). But then when she considered her options—starting a new diet that would make her feel miserable -or- buying a larger pair of jeans—she knew another diet would not be a healthy solution. The effort and behaviors that were required to fit into the smaller pants was not worth it.

So she bought the larger pair of pants!

Not only does this solution represent so much mindset growth in dealing with negative self-talk but it’s recognizing that clothes should fit you. You should not have to fit clothes. Healing our mental health is how we heal our body image, and this win is a major milestone.

If these are the types of milestones you are struggling to reach, I can help you. Sign up for a free 15-minute consult with me to brainstorm ways you can begin to love yourself towards healthy.

Meridith Oram is an anti-diet nutritionist at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image by ditching diet culture and finding freedom in their God-given intuition. Focusing on behavioral change and Intuitive Eating, Meridith helps her clients unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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