ED 101: Let’s Talk Recovery


“There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” That saying just doesn’t sound right coming from a vegan. So let’s just stick with: there are multiple ways to get a job done. Period. These same rules apply in recovery from ED. Let’s talk about different options for recovery. A little, ED 101 if you will.

ED manifests differently in every person. No two people will experience the exact same symptoms. That being said, it’s safe to say that there is no one specific method of recovery from ED. What works for me, may not help somebody else. It’s important to understand that recovery is not necessarily a linear progression, and not all methods will work for each individual. So what are some of the methods and how do they work?

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: In this approach, a therapist will work with an individual to understand the recurring negative thought patterns surrounding ED. They will try to interrupt and/or challenge these thought patterns. In time, by using healthy strategies, they attempt to alter these patterns of thought to form new ones.PROS: CBD is a commonly used approach as it is said to have had a high success rate in helping people free themselves from ED. It can help to

    CONS: CBD requires a lot of diligence and work. It involves self reflection, and constant attention to the thoughts that are present and can be overwhelming at times. Furthermore, it can encourage the behaviours of ED by ‘accepting’ that relapse is a natural part of recovery.

  • Psychodynamic therapy: Therapists attempt to reveal the underlying issues that led to the development of ED. They will work with an individual to uncover psychological problems. The belief is that by addressing these problems, they can help to alleviate the symptoms of ED and work towards recovery.PROS: Psychodynamic therapy can help to address any psychological problems if the are present. It can provide useful tools for dealing with a wide range of life events.

    CONS: A lot of time is spent focusing on underlying issues in an attempt in indirectly treat the symptoms of ED. This is a very long drawn out process that can last years and doesn’t attack the issue head on. In this approach individuals are taught to believe they have other psychological issues, this can create a sense that ED will always be a part of their lives and recovery is not guaranteed.

  • Addiction/Elimination: In this approach, ED is treated as an addiction to specific foods. Whereas when refined flour and sugars (foods high in carbohydrates) are thought to be addicted and must be removed from the diet.PROS: These types of food are not the most healthy so you’re not doing any physical damage by eliminating them.

    CONS: It’s ridiculous to think a diet like this is manageable. It also creates psychological deprivation, and should the individual attempt to reintroduce these foods down the road, the likelihood of binging on them is very high.

  • The do it yourself method: Quite often, individuals will never seek professional treatment for ED. The do it yourself option can involve a wide array of methods. From reading self help books, to possibly dabbling in one of the above mentioned methods.PROS: In this approach, the individual really gets to know themselves. By spending time understanding the behaviours and triggers associated with ED. It is the most individualized method because it is tailored specifically to the individual. It can also increase self confidence and self worth if they are successful in their approach.

    CONS: Because it’s a ‘DIY’ method, there’s nobody there to hold you accountable for your actions. Aside from yourself. It requires a lot of strength and willpower. It’s easy to fall back into old habits and give up on recovery.

All of the above mentioned methods are just a handful of commonly used practices. Each method has worked and failed. It’s likely that bits and pieces of each have their place in a persons recovery. That being said, it’s important to address the issues head on. Yes, it’s beneficial to learn how manage stressful situations, triggers, and underlying issues. But, at the end of the day, those things are a part of everyday life. Whereas attacking ED head on, deals with the predominant issue at hand. Once ED is removed from the situation, those other things will be more manageable.

At the end of the day, the only way to know which approach will work, is by starting. The first step is the hardest one, but it’s definitely the most important.

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