Some days, that voice in our head feels really loud. The voice that tells us to eat less, that we don’t deserve food, or shaming us for our bodies. The truth is, that voice doesn’t belong to you; that voice isn’t your own; that is the voice of an eating disorder. These are often lies your Eating Disorder may tell you.
An eating disorder's job is to infiltrate our thoughts and emotions with lies and contradictions and destroy our sense of peace and self-worth, creating a constant battle within our minds. One of the first steps in eating disorder recovery and breaking the ongoing cycle is self-awareness, the recognition that we are separate from that eating disorder voice. That there are two voices within your mind, the eating disorder voice, and the healthy voice. Although, at times, the eating disorder voice does a really good job at disguising itself.
Here are 10 common lies your eating disorder may tell you:
1. You are ____ (too big, too old, eat too much, etc.) to have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders can affect anyone, no matter your weight, body shape, age, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Eating disorders do not discriminate. There is no specific “look” that constitutes an eating disorder. The most important aspect is to ask yourself, are you spending the majority of your time focused on food, your body, and your weight? If so, that can help you determine whether you are struggling or not.
2. You will be happy once you lose enough weight.
Our society has been obsessed with looks, that weight is a determinant of value and worth in this world. Diet culture believes that the only way to be truly happy and successful is to be thin. Uncovering the truth about diet culture and accepting this societal belief as false can be extra challenging when an eating disorder continuously reinforces this belief and takes up all the space in your brain. The truth in the matter is that our body, weight, and appearance do not dictate our ability to be happy, in fact, eating disorders deprive us of the opportunity to feel a sense of happiness and acceptance in this world.
3. It’s okay that I ___ (binge, purge, restrict, overexercise, etc.) because it's only x amount of times a day/week/month
Your eating disorder voice tries to justify its actions. That it’s okay for the binging, purging, restricting, and over-exercising behaviors to happen as long as it's only for a particular duration of time. I want you to take a moment and ask yourself, would you be okay and accepting with a loved one telling you they were engaging in these same behaviors? Deep down, your healthy voice knows that these behaviors are not okay, not healthy, no matter how frequently they occur. This lie is your eating disorder voice trying to keep you in the cycle, to keep increasing the frequency as time goes on. Any disordered eating behaviors are dangerous and highly damaging to both your physical and mental health.
4. You cannot eat certain foods without losing control
The rules and fear behind certain foods is another tactic your eating disorder voice uses to keep you in the cycle. In recovery, often, you learn to let go of such rules around eating to engage in food freedom. These fear foods will not harm you, but that voice still screams at you that it will. Once you can allow yourself to eat all foods and defy your eating disorder rules, the deprivation-binge cycle will begin to get smaller until it ceases to exist.
5. You aren’t sick enough to receive treatment or support
The truth is, no line in the sand constitutes what is “too sick.” Even when your eating disorder voice tries to tell you otherwise, if you are struggling, you deserve to have the right to treatment or support to help you recover, no matter what. If this thought crosses your mind, that you aren’t sick enough for treatment, then this is a sign that you are. People who do not struggle with an eating disorder do not question this. Overwhelming and consuming thoughts on food, weight, and body image mean that you deserve and are worthy of support.
6. You believe there are “good” foods and “bad” foods
Within diet culture, there is always a new trend, a new rule that food is either good or bad. Cutting out full food groups to adhere to a “diet” is unhealthy. Our eating disorder voice makes you look at food and decide, good or bad. The truth is, there is no such thing as good and bad foods. Food is just food. Food can be fun, enjoyable, and nourishing when we allow our healthy voice to break through.
7. You must know your body weight at all times
In the midst of an eating disorder, that voice tells you that the number on the scale is equivalent to your worth and value. You are not in control when that number dictates your self-esteem and self-worth; the eating disorder is in control. That number will never be enough for the eating disorder, you will never win as long as that voice is in control. Letting go of the number and attempting to throw out the scale can be a truly terrifying piece of the recovery process. Ask yourself, what are you so afraid of? What changes if the number changes? The only way to win the fight is to realize how little importance the scale and weight number have on your life and the value of you as a person.
8. You will eat normally when your weight is XX pounds
Diet culture has drilled this idea into our brains that we just need to restrict, purge, and over-exercise until we get to a certain random number that we somehow placed value in, and then you can go back to normal eating patterns. In truth, restriction typically leads to binging, and the eating disorder cycle continues on a never-ending rollercoaster ride. There is no “normal” until you can fully step out of the eating disorder voice and into the healthy voice.
9. You have to deserve and compensate for food
You’re going to dinner tonight with friends, and maybe you don’t eat all day in preparation for this dinner so you can “enjoy” it, or you add an extra hour to your workout to make up for the calories in this dinner you’re about to consume. If this, or a variation of this, happens to you, that is part of an eating disorder. No one has to deserve food or compensate for it. You are worthy just as you are. Your body needs the energy to live, to be healthy, and to make it possible to enjoy the life you have.
10. Recovery is not possible, and you are not worthy of recovery
People recover from eating disorders all the time, and it is possible for you, but that does not mean that recovery is an easy process or there won't be moments that you feel like giving up. There will be times when you miss the eating disorder voice and its disguise as comfort for you. But recovery is worth it. Recovery means freedom from food, freedom from obsessions of weight, and freedom from the constraints of the eating disorder. Recovery doesn’t mean you will just automatically love yourself and your body, but begin to enter into a space of body neutrality. You deserve the opportunity to experience joy, freedom, and recovery.
If you are seeking support for disordered eating, Branz Nutrition Counseling and our certified eating disorder dieticians are a safe and supportive place to start.
As a reminder, the Branz Nutrition blog is nutritional information, not medical nutrition therapy or professional consultation. Branz Nutrition cannot provide medical nutrition therapy to individuals who are not our patients. If you have questions or concerns about your health, please schedule an appointment with our team.