Question: Eating Disorder Recovery and Weight

“If you are in recovery from an eating disorder and struggled with binging that led you to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, what is the best way to deal with the situation?”

This was a question sent to me as part of Libero Network’s ‘Ask an Expert’ column. It certainly wasn’t an easy one to answer – the topic is complex and the ‘best way to deal’ will be different for everyone. Overall – recovery from an eating disorder is always the focus; weight loss should not be.

See my full response over at Libero Network, here.

You did not fail the diet. The diet failed you.

Let me make this very, very clear: You did not fail the diet. The diet failed you.

The diet industry is big business, making billions of dollars a year. It’s probably the only industry where people continue to buy the product, despite a failure rate greater than 90% (cited as up to 98%).

Such a high failure rate is (oddly) profitable for diet companies. Why? If a diet worked the first time, you’d have no reason to go back and spend more money.

Many diets work for a short period of time. You lose weight, receive loads of compliments, feel great and believe that this diet (finally!) is successful.

However, for over 90% of people, the diet becomes unsustainable. The weight goes back on (usually with extra), the compliments stop (and you become panicked about what people think of you now), and you feel like a failure.

But why do you blame yourself, rather than blaming the diet?
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Smash the Scale

95% of people regain lost weight within 2 years. 98% have regained it within 5 years. Most will gain extra too. Many people go through cycle after cycle of dieting with weight loss and weight gain.

Those statistics are all based around a number on the scale. It doesn’t tell us what methods were used to lose weight (healthy or unhealthy) nor does it tell us what emotional, social, and possible mental, effects (both good and bad) were experienced during the weight loss and regain.

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Supporting Someone with an Eating Disorder during the Holidays

The holiday season brings with it many joys, but it can also be a very difficult time for those struggling with an eating disorder (ED) or disordered eating.

Social gatherings and family get-togethers are a great opportunity to catch up with people you might not have seen in a while, or to spend extra time with those you love. Unfortunately, the conversation can sometime head down a very unwelcome path. The three topics that are said to be off-limits at the dinner table are sex, politics, and religion. For someone with an ED or disordered eating, those three topics are much more preferable to food, exercise, or weight.

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What is ‘Healthy?’

I think one of the biggest mistakes people (both the general population and health professionals) make is assuming health is the same for every person.

Of course, there are some things we can quite confidently say are or aren’t healthy; but despite health having some objective measures, it’s a highly subjective and individualized word. When I think about health, I consider four aspects that all impact on one another:physical, mental, emotional, and social (you may also wish to include spiritual).

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Why I Don’t Comment On People’s Weight

I believe most people have good intentions when they congratulate someone on their weight loss; after all, society convinces us weight loss equals health gains. Not only that, weight loss is absurdly associated with words such as willpower, success, achievement, and strength. Whilst weight gain is considered to be the opposite. These associations are not only incorrect, but incredibly unhelpful.

My biggest reason for not commenting on someone’s weight is because I don’t know how how they came to be the weight they are. The list of reasons and ways people lose weight is long. Some are healthy, others are fair from it.

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