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Full Eating Disorder Recovery Is Possible: NEDA Week Q&A



Things We Dive Into In This Episode:

  1. Whether fully recovering from an eating disorder is possible

  2. Moving through the last stages of eating disorder treatment

  3. Insights into my own eating disorder recovery

📘Resources


📌Episode Highlights


Q&A


It seems like everyone has an eating disorder. Is that right?

  • It's not true that everyone has an eating disorder.

  • It is true that disordered eating behaviors are really normalized in our culture and we need to spread awareness about that.

  • It's a fine line when someone crosses over from the pursuit of better nutrition, exercise goals, and fitness goals into disordered eating.

    • You’ve crossed into disordered territory when there's anxiety involved, when there's all or nothing thinking, when there's black and white thinking, when there's rigidity, when there's planning what you're going to eat the next day while you're eating dinner.

  • We need to stop having such binary conversations about nutrition. I think it is really important that people start talking about nutrition in a more nuanced way on both ends of the spectrum. The nuance allows people to feel like they can make empowered eating choices, improve their health, impact their energy levels, strengthen their wellbeing, and feel better in their body without crossing over into this all or nothing, rigid thinking territory.



Is full eating disorder recovery possible? (And perhaps another question to ask is, is it possible to never feel stressed about food again?)

  • The short answer is yes!!!

  • We are going to keep eating for the rest of our lives. No matter what, no matter who you are, you will have to keep eating for the rest of your life. You're going to keep having a body for the rest of your life. So that means that for the rest of your life, no matter how much counseling you receive, no matter how much healing you do, you're going to need to continue to have a relationship with food and a relationship with your body.

  • Think about these things in terms of relationship. So when we marry somebody, we're in a relationship with them for the rest of our lives. Relationships go through ups and downs. But if it's a good relationship, it's ultimately resilient. There's rupture and repair, and the repair is a beautiful moment of learning, deepening, and strengthening the relationship.

    • You can fully recover from an eating disorder in the sense that you can be completely free from eating disorder behaviors.

    • However, that doesn't mean that you won't sometimes have little rough patches in your relationship with food or your relationship with your body or your relationship with exercise because it is a relationship at the end of the day.

    • To expect that you'll never have a little bump in the road or a moment of friction is unrealistic. You're going to have to continue to be in relationship with food and relationship with your body for the rest of your life. But you can be totally free from the behaviors. You can be free from these constant, gnawing, nagging, compulsive, automatic thoughts. Those can go away.

  • Every once in a while you might have a moment where you become triggered. You will never be completely immune to triggers, but you'll become more resilient to triggers. When you have those rough patches you repair and you learn from it.

  • It’s also important to define what full recovery means to you. Write them down, get specific about them and ask yourself if that's possible. I guarantee it most likely is.

    • What is it that you hope full recovery would allow you to do in your life? What is it that you're seeking? What does full recovery represent to you? Does it represent a life where you are able to exercise intentionally without getting overwhelmed by it? Does it represent a life where you're able to travel? Does it represent a life where you're able to have easeful, peaceful conversations at the dinner table?


I've been out of eating disorder treatment for over three years, but I feel like I'm stuck in limbo in this last stage of recovery. Every time I try to go to the gym, I get obsessed. Every time I try to make changes to my nutrition for health, I get obsessed. How do you get out of this final stage?

  • I believe it is SO important to prioritize getting support for years - truly years.

  • We have all these metrics that we use to try to determine whether or not we need continued nutrition support or continued therapy, but I think it's best to assume that a lot of different things are going to happen over the course of a few years in your life. And it's important to make sure that you feel so solid in your recovery through the different trials and transitions that you're going to come across in your life. And I think it's really important to not skip the phase of recovery where you try to have a relationship with health again.

  • Make sure that you have support from someone who can intentionally, mindfully, and thoughtfully help you through this stage of recovery where you're reintegrating wellness into your life.

  • Work with trainers who are trauma informed. Go to fitness classes that have a really positive lens on them. Don't go to a fitness class that's called chisel, lengthen, strengthen, tone, and has pictures of people's abs on the wall. Go to a fitness class that feels like a community experience, that feels like a safe place for you to have permission to take breaks, have permission to really explore your relationship with your body and not just go hard or go home.

  • Follow Instagram accounts that make you feel good, like really good, not Instagram accounts that make you feel in control. Try to follow accounts that you really sense compassion from, that you really sense nuance from, that you really sense relief from.



Thanks for listening! 💖 Stay tuned to my website for more episode updates and other exciting programs and resources.


Transcript


Caitie: I hear a lot of people say, focus on what you can control when it comes to wellness, but I don't really like that. I think that's kind of, yes, we can't control anything truly. Instead, focus on learning what it means to be truly kind to yourself and truly kind to others at the same time. And focus on that. Focus on creating a toolbox of practices, nutrition, movement, other holistic self -care practices that substantiate what it means to be really kind to yourself and kind to your body.


Welcome to Whole, Full, & Alive, a podcast helping you feed yourself, feel yourself and be yourself. I'm Caitie Corradino. I'm a registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, a body image coach and the founder of Full Soul Nutrition, a method that combines nutrition counseling with a powerful toolkit of somatic healing modalities. I have guided hundreds of clients to freedom with food, their bodies and every aspect of their lives. I've also been through this healing myself, and on this podcast, I want to help you eat with confidence, embrace your body, form aligned relationships and create a life that you're in love with. I'll share actionable tools, no bullshit stories and interviews that will remind you why you have everything you need within you to feel whole, full and alive. Are you ready? Let's get into it.


Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole, Full, & Alive. Before we dive into today's episode, I wanna guide you through a really quick breathing exercise to relieve some stress that you might be coming in with. So wherever you are, whether you're multitasking or just tuning into this pod, I invite you to take a nice deep breath in through your mouth. Take another deep breath in through your mouth, sip in a little more air, and then take a big exhale out your mouth. Let's do that two more times. Deep breath in through your mouth. Sip in a little more air through your mouth. Big exhale. Let it go out the mouth. Last time, deep breath in. Deep breath in. And exhale. Let it go. And then just let your breathing return to its natural rhythm. Maybe invite some gentle breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Coming in with hopefully a little bit more centeredness than you had a moment ago.


Thanks for tuning into Whole, Full, & Alive today, the podcast helping you feed yourself, feel yourself, and be yourself. Today's episode is an episode that I'm doing in observance of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. But I want to preface this episode by saying that if your quality of your life is at all impaired by your relationship with food or your relationship with your body, or your relationship with exercise, then this episode is for you. As someone who works with individuals in eating disorder recovery and disordered eating recovery, I know it's a really common thing to not identify with having an eating disorder. That's a really charged label. And I think one thing I've recognized is that it doesn't really matter if we want to identify with that label or not. What matters is if our relationship with food is impairing the quality of our life, we deserve some support in finding relief from that. If our relationship with our body is impairing the quality of our life, we deserve some support with that. If our relationship with exercise is impairing the quality of our life, causing stress or anxiety for us in any way, we deserve some relief from that. And I think that yes, Eating Disorders Awareness Week, maybe technically, medically speaking, is supposed to be about clinically diagnosed eating disorders. But the reality is that so many people are living with a disordered relationship with food, with their bodies, with exercise. And I think the most important thing we can do during this week is raise awareness of the fact that that's just not normal and that it doesn't have to be that way.


Whether or not we wanna go through the checklist of diagnosing an eating disorder for insurance purposes or whatever purpose we wanna diagnose the eating disorder for, I believe it's really important that people have an awareness around the fact that it's just not normal to feel stress and anxiety about eating. It's not normal for food to take up so, so much of your head space for whether or not to exercise to cause so much distress for you and for you to be thinking about your body shape and size constantly. And so maybe you're not someone who is recovering from an eating disorder or has recovered from an eating disorder or identifies with that label at all. But maybe you are someone who just feels a little bit of stress or anxiety in terms of your relationship with food, your body and exercise. I think that this episode will still serve you. 


I'm going to keep today's episode relatively brief today, but hopefully very potent. I am going to answer three listener questions that I received via Instagram about eating disorder recovery. And then I'm going to tell you about a recent insight that I had about my own recovery that I'm feeling really called to share with you. So I guess I could just say that at the top of this episode, trigger warning, I am talking about eating disorders today. Hopefully that is implied by the title of this episode. You know, it's not necessarily a bad thing if you're feeling mildly triggered by this content. If it's making you slightly uncomfortable and making you recognize that you need to get more support. But if you are feeling, you know, relatively ungrounded, very charged at any point while I'm speaking today, I want to encourage you to explore these topics with someone who can really support you in exploring what they mean to you. And I also want to just provide a disclaimer that, you know, the reason I share my recovery story is because I found that it does serve people to hear about my experiences and makes them feel seen and understood in their own experiences. I don't share my own recovery story as a way to be like a play-by-play book for someone who's in recovery because all eating disorders present with a really different etiology, a different root cause in different contexts and different environments. And recovery is going to be a different experience for everyone who does recover. And also, I know that there are common threads and pieces of shared humanity that kind of run across a lot of people's eating disorders. I think it is important as a recovered clinician that I do share bits and pieces of my experience. 


And that said, I think it's also important to provide a disclaimer that eating disorders don't discriminate. I kind of fit the classic stereotypical person who would have an eating disorder. You know, I'm cis, white, female. I grew up dancing, went to college, became a fitness instructor. I was involved in the fitness industry for a while. These are pretty classic kind of red flag markers for someone developing an eating disorder. And I think it's worth mentioning at the top of this episode. And one thing that I think is really important to highlight for Eating Disorders Awareness Week is that eating disorders present in all genders. Eating disorders present in all ages. Eating disorders present in many different environments. Eating disorders present in low-income communities. Eating disorders present across ages, across ethnicities, across genders, across socioeconomic backgrounds. And we really don't have enough research and enough clinicians working in certain contexts and communities when it comes to disordered eating. And I really am passionate about supporting organizations like Diversify Dietetics and other organizations that I will link in the show notes that I think do a good job of spreading awareness of the fact that we simply don't talk about the fact that eating disorders occur in all communities.


You know, I really want to share. You know, I feel so called to continue sharing my own eating disorder recovery journey and the things that I continue to realize about my own recovery as I work with clients on their recovery, because I am fully recovered and I'm so happy to be alive. And I know that my perspective is a valuable one to provide. But to truly heal and prevent eating disorders on a wider scale, I think we need more than me and my story. We need stories of recovery from people who don't look like me, and we need providers who come from diverse backgrounds. And that's the final disclaimer that I want to give you before I dive into the rest of today's episode. 


So we're gonna do listener questions first, and then I'm gonna give you a recent insight that I've had in my own eating disorder recovery. And before we dive into that, let me just remind you that I have a few spaces left on my Nutrition & Intuition retreat that's coming up in Scotland at the end of this month, March, 2024. This is gonna be five days of breath work workshops, movement classes, really delicious meals and mindful eating exercises, exploration of Scotland, and absolutely incredible community. One of the most unique things about this retreat is that it is safe for people who have had experiences with eating disorders and disordered eating or are in a later stage of recovery from their eating disorder. There are a lot of retreats out there, but I don't believe that there are enough retreats that are that are eating disorder informed, that are making a conscious effort to not body shame, that are making a conscious effort to include a diverse array of foods and really make sure that there's a food positive dialogue happening at the table. I am so excited to create this space because I know that retreats are. I'm so excited to hold this space because retreats are absolutely life changing experiences for everyone who attends them. But I also know that there are not that many retreats that really are safe spaces for people who no longer wish to engage in dieting, for people who no longer wish to engage in look how flat your abs are kind of talk. And so if you are feeling called to join my community, we have a really, really amazing group coming to Scotland so far and I'd love for you to join us. There's still a little bit of time for you to join us. If you're feeling at all called or curious about the experience, you can book a free call with me at the link in the show notes and we can just chat and see if we can figure out a payment plan that works for you. Book your flights, just answer any questions you have. And yeah, just really figure out if it's a good fit for you. All right. Let's get into this week's listener questions for Eating Disorders Awareness Week.


The first question I received was very point blank and I appreciated it. It says, it seems like everyone has an eating disorder, question mark. Is that right? And I do appreciate that this person point blank asked this because this is something that I come across a lot, especially with people in my personal life. They kind of say to me, oh, so do you just think everyone has an eating disorder? Everyone who is practicing any sort of careful nutrition or anyone who just is training for a marathon? Does everyone just have an eating disorder? And the answer is no, obviously. However, there is such a normalization of disordered eating and disordered exercise behaviors and body shaming in our society. It's really true, especially on social media. Influencers have basically rebranded disordered eating into fasting protocols and the carnivore diet and all of this bullshit, like their lifestyle choices. They basically, under the guise of health, are practicing disordered eating and the algorithm eats it up. And this is what we see. Nutrition on social media is very largely disordered. You can pursue health without it being an eating disorder. You can train for a marathon without it coming from a self-punishing place or a compensatory place. And I'm not interested in having binary conversations where it's like, yeah, if you decrease your saturated fat intake or you decrease your added sugar intake, that means it's disordered and that's diet culture. No, not at all. I really do believe that we can implement gentle nutrition practices that help us eat well and feel good in our bodies. We're allowed to be mindful of health. Where it becomes disordered is when we get into all or nothing thinking, black and white thinking. And when we feel anxiety about breaking the nutrition guidelines that we've set for ourselves, or if we're training for a marathon and we feel anxiety about missing one day, or we feel really compulsive about the time that we need to get. 


There is a line and it can be a little bit insidious when you've crossed it. It is hard to tell because there is so much normalization, unfortunately, of disordered eating behaviors and the dieting industry that creates all these unsustainable diets that you get on and then get off because they're unsustainable and then have to get back on. You know, the dieting industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and it's still quite normalized to celebrate celebrities weight loss journeys and all these things and so much of the time when we celebrate a celebrity's weight loss journey or anybody's weight loss journey, we're unfortunately celebrating very disordered eating behaviors. You know, any focus on physique specifically when someone's really hyper-targeted at changing their physique specifically and not targeted at improving their health, improving their energy levels, improving their sense of aliveness, it is likely to lead more into this disordered territory. 


So I'm kind of just going on a roll here, but it's not true that everyone has an eating disorder. It is true that disordered eating behaviors are really normalized in our culture and we need to do something about that. We need to spread awareness about that. It's a fine line when someone crosses over from the pursuit of better nutrition and exercise goals and fitness goals into disordered eating. But you know when you've crossed it, when there's anxiety involved, when there's all or nothing thinking, when there's black and white thinking, when there's rigidity, when there's planning what you're going to eat the next day while you're eating dinner, when there's planning what you're going to eat on Wednesday while you're eating dinner on Tuesday, that's when we know we've crossed over into disordered territory. 


We need to stop having such binary conversations about nutrition. I think it is really important that people start talking about nutrition in a more nuanced way on both ends of the spectrum. I do think there's kind of this radical nutrition and then no nutrition kind of thing happening. And it is really important to add more nuance so that people feel like they can make empowered eating choices and improve their health and their energy levels and their wellbeing and the way they feel in their body without crossing over into this all or nothing rigid thinking territory. And yeah, the other thing I was saying too is that if you're focusing on achieving the ideal physique, yeah, you're more likely to develop body dysmorphia if you're focusing on your physique rather than health goals, rather than wanting to feel good, rather than wanting to have good digestion. We should be making our nutrition decisions based on goals like this. And exercise decisions as well. You know, if you want to train for an event, if you want to train for a marathon, a half marathon, if you want to feel stronger so that you can go on this big hike with your friends, if you want to just tangibly feel better while you're walking up staircases, that is awesome. But when we get into this territory of I want my arms to look like this, I want my stomach to look like this, I want my butt to look like this. Yeah, we're likely to cross over into disorder, more compulsive behaviors, more rigid all or nothing behaviors. And it's really important to be mindful of that. I hope that that answers your question. Thank you very much for asking it in a frank and honest way. I really appreciate that.


The next question I got is, is full eating disorder recovery possible? When people ask me this question, I think that what they're usually asking me is, is it possible to never feel stressed about food again? I think that's what most people are thinking when they ask this question is, is it possible to get to a place where I just am never never anxious about food in my body, never feeling like having a meltdown in the dressing room kind of a thing. And I think it's important to say that we are going to keep eating for the rest of our lives. No matter what, no matter who you are, you will have to keep eating for the rest of your life. And no matter where you are, no matter who you are, you're going to keep having a body for the rest of your life. That means that for the rest of your life, no matter how much counseling you receive, no matter how much healing you do, you're going to need to continue to have a relationship with food and a relationship with your body. 


And I like to think about these things in terms of relationship, because we can kind of look at it like our relationship with another person. So when we marry somebody, we're in a relationship with them for the rest of our lives. And relationships go through ups and downs. Relationships go through small blips of friction. Relationships go through shit hitting the fan every once in a while. But if it's a good relationship, it's ultimately resilient and there's rupture and repair and the repair is beautiful and it's a moment of learning and it's a moment of deepening and strengthening the relationship and making it better.


I want you to look at your relationship with food and your relationship with your body the same way you might think of a relationship with a person. So you can fully recover from an eating disorder in the sense that you can be completely free from eating disorder behaviors. If you're restricting food, you can get to a place where you're never restricting food again. If you're binge eating, you can get to a place where you're not binge eating anymore, ever. If you're purging, you can get to a place where you're not engaging in that behavior anymore either. However, that doesn't mean that you won't sometimes have little rough patches in your relationship with food or your relationship with your body or your relationship with exercise because it is a relationship. And so to expect that you'll never have a little bump in the road, a moment of friction is unrealistic because you're going to have to continue to be in relationship with food and relationship with your body for the rest of your life. But you can be totally free from the behaviors. You can be free from these constant, gnawing, nagging, compulsive, automatic thoughts. Those can go away. And every once in a while you might have a moment where you become triggered. You will never be completely immune to triggers, but you'll become more resilient to triggers. And when you have those moments, when you have those rough patches, when you have those ruptures, just like if you have a rupture with a partner that really loves you, you repair and you learn from it. You repair and you learn from it. 


And I'm someone who considers myself to be in full recovery from my eating disorder. I do not engage in any of the behaviors that I engaged in when I was in the worst stages of my eating disorder. Worst stages of my eating disorder, I was restricting food severely. Worst stages of my eating disorder, I was compulsive exercising severely. And then a little further down the road, I was binge eating and I don't do any of that anymore. I never even feel tempted to restrict anymore. I don't have episodes of binge eating at all. I don't engage in compulsive exercise, but I'm not going to tell you that I haven't had a moment in the last five years where I've experienced stressful, fiery body dysmorphia. And I'm not going to tell you that there wasn't a moment where I didn't feel slightly funky about something like a calorie count or some sort of comment my mom made about my body or about food. The difference though, is that I feel significantly more resilient to these triggers. And I feel like I know how to repair these ruptures when they happen.


And so not everything is easy, breezy, beautiful all the time with food and my body and exercise. A lot of times it is, not gonna lie to you. I do have a pretty easeful, peaceful relationship with food, my body, and exercise. But there's still ruptures. And so that's the first thing that comes up for me when I think of this question of is full recovery possible? And another thing I want you to remember is to define what full recovery means to you. You know, what does full recovery mean to you? I've talked about this on a previous episode. Someone asked me how long it took for me to recover from my eating disorder. And I was like, well, it's really important to define what full recovery means to you. What is it that you hope full recovery would allow you to do in your life? What is it that you're seeking? What does full recovery represent to you? Does it represent a life where you are able to exercise intentionally without getting overwhelmed by it? Does it represent a life where you're able to travel? Does it represent a life where you're able to have easeful, peaceful conversations at the dinner table? What are the key things that would make up recovery for you? Write them down, get specific about them and ask yourself if that's possible. I guarantee it most likely is. I don't think that there's anything you're gonna put in that list that is not possible for you. With the right support, I truly believe that recovery is possible for anyone. Full recovery is possible for anyone. It really is important to get the right support though. It's so common for people to stop getting support too early in the game in their eating disorder recovery. 


And that's a good segue into the last question I received, which is, 

First of all, so much gratitude to the human who submitted this question because I think that there are so many people who are right where you are and I was right where you are for a really long time because as I was just saying, there are a lot of people who I think end support a little bit too early. And I know there's so many logistics that go into receiving support in eating disorder recovery - finances, insurance, time, all of the things. But I believe it is so important to prioritize getting support for years, like truly years. We have all these metrics that we use to try to determine whether or not we need continued nutrition support, whether or not we need continued therapy, but I think it's best to assume that a lot of different things are going to happen over the course of a few years in your life. And it's important to make sure that you feel so solid in your recovery through the different trials and transitions that you're going to come across in your life. And I think it's really important to not skip the phase of recovery where you try to have a relationship with health again.


I'm really passionate about that. And no, not everyone needs to pursue health. Not everyone needs to be passionate about learning about nutrition in depth. And not everyone needs to go to the gym or needs to have a relationship with fitness classes or anything like that. But a lot of people do want that. And as a nutritionist and a fitness instructor, I firmly believe in how empowering it can be to have nutrition knowledge and how empowering and fun and community building it can be to have a relationship with fitness and fitness classes or some form of movement that you have as a hobby. And so I feel like it can be a really valuable thing to have a phase of recovery where you reintegrate those things into your life with really intentional support. That is something that I completely lacked in my eating disorder recovery. I went to, you know, clinical eating disorder treatment. And then I was kind of just flailing after that. And I kind of stayed obsessed. And then I reentered fitness and got involved in fitness in a really obsessive compulsive way. And then I burned out and I had absolutely no relationship with fitness for a while. And every time I tried to set foot in a gym, I was afraid that I was going to become obsessed again. So I was kind of like touching the gym like a hot potato for a couple of years and it took me a while to find the mentors and the tools and the resources and the grace that I needed to rebuild my relationship with exercise and my relationship with intentional nutrition and doing nutrition research and eating in a way that would make me feel good. And I know that if I had support in that, one-on-one with a dietician, one-on-one with a trauma informed personal trainer, one-on-one with a therapist who specialized in this, I would have moved to that stage way quicker and with a way less harm done to myself. 


And so I guess my short answer to this question is to make sure that you have support from someone who can intentionally, mindfully, thoughtfully help you through this stage of recovery where you're reintegrating wellness into your life. It's important to work with trainers who are trauma informed. It's important to go to fitness classes that have a really positive lens on them. Don't go to a fitness class that's called chisel, lengthen, strengthen, tone, and has pictures of people's abs on the wall. Go to a fitness class that feels like a community experience, that feels like a safe place for you to have permission to take breaks, have permission to really explore your relationship with your body and not just go hard or go home. Make sure you're following Instagram accounts that make you feel good, like really good, not Instagram accounts that make you feel in control. Right? I think sometimes my clients get confused when I say don't follow accounts that don't make you feel good. They'll be like, well, this one influencer that posts recipes, it does make me feel good, but it's like, does it make you feel good? Or does it make you feel in control? Like really tune into your nervous system. Try to follow accounts that you really sense compassion from, that you really sense nuance from, that you really sense relief from. If you're gonna follow nutrition-focused accounts or exercise-focused accounts, mental health-focused accounts, know that not all of them are positive for your growth. Not all of them are positive for your wellbeing. Not all of them are positive for you. So pay attention to how different accounts make you feel in your body? Is there this sense of like control that they bring? Is there a sense of shame or fear that they bring up? Or do you feel like you're inspired to be compassionate to yourself when you look at this account? Do you feel like you're inspired to be kind to yourself? 


And that's what this stage of recovery is all about, right? Is learning what it means to be kind to yourself, which being kind to yourself doesn't mean doing absolutely nothing to improve your health. Being kind to yourself also doesn't mean doing absolutely every single thing that you've ever read in a nutrition book and rigidly exercising and making your whole life revolve around your wellness routines. Being kind to yourself looks unique for every person and we need to kind of collect the data, the resources, the tips from different mentors and teachers and people to create our own individualized, customized, flexible relationship with wellness. 


So before I hop off the mic, I want to share an insight that has come up for me in relation to my own eating disorder recovery recently. And I'm going to start by telling you about a dream that I had because honestly, I often have insights kind of come to me in dreams sometimes. Sometimes I really do integrate things in dreams. I don't know what it is. I've been having these kind of weird, lucid, dreamy kind of things happening lately. And I had a dream recently that gave me a really big piece of insight about my eating disorder recovery. So in this dream, I was hanging out with my mom and my cousin. And my cousin had just had a baby in the dream. And this cousin does not have kids yet, is not pregnant yet, but in the dream she had just had her first child. I'll let you know if maybe she is pregnant and maybe I'm psychic. She had just had her first child in the dream and she put the child on her lap and was talking to my mom about how stressed she was taking care of this baby. And I went into the bathroom in the dream and I'm in the bathroom and I'm overhearing my mom and my cousin talk and they don't know that I can hear them. And my mom says to my cousin, you know, I just don't know what I'm gonna do when, you know, she, my baby becomes a teenager. It's gonna be so hard to deal with having a teenager. And my mom says to my cousin, you know, Caitie had really bad depression and anxiety when she was like 13, 14 years old. And then when she was 15, it just, it just went all away. It just all went away and, and she was fine. And you know what, maybe it's just those early teen years where they're just really hormonal and things are really hard. And then it just gets better. And there's just a break in the waves. 


And in my dream, I thought to myself, lucidly, I was like yeah, the only reason my depression and anxiety went away when I was 15 was because I developed an eating disorder to cope with my depression and anxiety. And then I woke up. And I guess the reason I'm sharing the dream with you is because when I did wake up, it felt like a full body download and just like a full body remembrance of how much my eating disorder behaviors saved me from really deep depression and really severe anxiety that I was experiencing at 15 years old. And I always knew, because this is just a fact for everyone who has an eating disorder, I always knew that my eating disorder was a coping tool. My eating disorder was a coping tool that helped me feel in control, it was a coping tool that helped me manage anxiety, it was a coping tool. It's not just about wanting to be thin and wanting to look a certain way. It wasn't about, I remember my doctor said to me when I was 15 years old, like, Caitie, you don't have to look like the models in the magazines. It's okay. And I was like, what the fuck is this guy saying? Cause that just didn't resonate with me at all. Because the reason why I was so hooked on restricting food, didn't have anything to do with wanting to look like a model in a magazine. It had everything to do with the feeling of certainty and control that it gave me to restrict food and suppress my weight. 


And I guess this dream that I had recently was just a remembrance of the fact that my eating disorder kind of saved my life in a lot of ways. And that's really scary that my eating disorder saved my life in a lot of ways. Because eating disorders are incredibly dangerous. They are obviously not a sustainable coping tool. They are not a healthy coping tool. They are destructive. They really dull people's lives. They really mute people's voices. And eating disorders are also deadly. They are the most deadly mental illness, I believe second to only opioid addiction. And yet my eating disorder saved my life when I was 15 years old. It was such a needed coping tool for me. The reason I'm sharing this is because I think it's important to remember that eating disorders are functional. They develop for a reason. They develop because the person engaging in the eating disorder is trying to cope with something, is trying to deal with something, is trying to mask a really deep pain or a really deep wound, or is trying to cope with really big emotions, is trying to just feel organized, safe, and grounded and that is why they are so hard to get rid of and that is why it is so important that an individual struggling with disordered eating, with eating disorders gets the proper support and feels seen and heard and understood in how hard it can be to let go of it. 


When I was 15 years old, I didn't want to hear, oh, you have to stop doing what you're doing. Oh, you have to, you have to start eating enough. You have to start eating more. You have to stop exercising so much. I did not want to hear that. Not because I wanted to look like the models in the magazine, but because it literally felt so wildly unsafe for me to let go of that. And I didn't even consciously know it at the time, obviously. I didn't consciously realize that my eating disorder behaviors were really keeping all the depression and anxiety that I had been feeling in middle school at bay. There are so many people who don't want to hear, it's time to recover from your eating disorder. Recovery is the best thing ever because there are so many people that are holding onto this maladaptive coping tool as a literal lifeline. And they need a lot of support in breaking free from it so that when they break free from it, they can cultivate other coping tools that will help them deal with the root cause. If we just get rid of the eating disorder behaviors, we say, just eat, just eat, just eat. It's like chopping a branch off the tree and expecting the tree to die. We have to get to the roots of the problem. We have to get to the roots of the eating disorder. We have to figure out why someone feels so attached to engaging in eating disorder behaviors. And this happens with more subtle or lower grade forms of eating disorders as well, just like, plain disordered eating behaviors can also really function as a form of certainty in times of deep uncertainty for people. 


It's really important to remember this because all this content that I was talking about earlier, all these influencers that are normalizing disordered eating behaviors are making it all the more difficult for individuals to break free from this maladaptive coping mechanism. It's so hard to break free from an eating disorder in and of itself, but you take that and add in all of the content out there that basically encourages disordered eating. It makes it so much harder to break free from this. And I know deeply how hard it is to break free from this because as I mentioned via my lucid dream, I recently remembered that my eating disorder saved my life. And it was so bad. It was to a point where my mom thought that my depression and anxiety was cured when I was 15. That was really true. She really thought that I woke up from a fog at 15 years old. But the truth is that I had just developed this really functional coping tool that very quickly became destructive and threatened to my health. And by the time I was 16, 17, I was in treatment.


I know that hearing this can kind of bring up a lot of thoughts, a lot of feelings, maybe a lot of emotions, maybe a lot of emotions or realizations for you. And I just want to invite you to reach out to me if hearing this strikes a chord for you, an emotional chord for you, if you're looking for support with eating disorder recovery, disordered eating recovery for yourself or for a loved one, please don't hesitate to use me as a resource. I have space for one new one-on-one client and I have a boatload of colleagues and amazing people in my network who provide incredible support. I'm also very much aware of a lot of free resources, a lot of free groups, a lot of low cost treatment options. If you need any of those resources, please don't hesitate to reach out for me. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me. And don't hesitate to reach out to just let me know any thoughts, feelings, or insights that came up for you while you're listening to this show today.


I'm going to wrap it up here. There's so much more I can say. There's so much more I can say. Obviously, I can't do this topic justice on my own, and I can't do this topic justice in one 30 minute podcast episode. But I sincerely hope that you took away some insight today that will be helpful for you to integrate in healing your relationship with food, your body, or exercise. 


I will be back on the microphone next week. I'm gonna talk to you about my move to Lisbon and travel. And of course there will be some food and body image insights sprinkled into that. I am really looking forward to telling you more about my move to Lisbon. I'll be back on the microphone next Monday. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a five star rating review on Apple or Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts that allows you to leave a review. I think it might just be Apple and Spotify, but I sincerely appreciate it. It really, really helps more people hear the show. And if you feel called to share this episode with someone who might need it, that is also an amazing way to spread the word on what we're talking about here. Thanks so much for tuning in. Take a deep breath. Wishing you a peaceful rest of your day. Bye.




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