Why It’s So Damn Hard to Recover from an Eating Disorder

Anorexia recovery is a conundrum.

It’s kind of an oxymoron — like jumbo shrimp, or tiny elephant.

How do you recover from a disease where the only way out is to love yourself, but the disease itself dictates that you hate yourself?

This post isn’t depressing. I promise. I’m just setting the stage 🙂


But I was thinking about it today, and this predicament is precisely why recovery is so difficult, and relapse so common.

Eating disorders, by their very nature, are a manifestation of self-hatred.

Think about the disease: everything stems from the inability to love yourself — everything is punishment: whether it be the restriction, the isolation, the purging, self-harm, excessive exercise, you name it — all of these ED behaviors are manifestations of the fact that you don’t love yourself. (And I’m saying you, but I mean we. I’m not pointing any fingers here, or calling a kettle “black,” when I’m a pot, myself.)

But anorexia and all eating disorders are the purest example of a lack of self-love.

So how does one recover from this perpetual state of self-hatred, when the only way to recover is to love yourself?

That’s why it’s so hard.


It’s hard because you have to decide to go from a state of self-loathing to a state of self-love. You literally have to do a 180.

You have to choose to love yourself when you hate yourself.

You, in your self-abhorring state, have to say, You know what? I’m going to love myself enough to love myself.

That’s Pandora’s box. And I’m going to repeat it because I think this is really clutch.

You have to love yourself enough to love yourself.


You have to make that decision from a place where loving yourself is The Last Thing you want to let yourself do. Or rather, that ED wants you to do.

This is why, just because the weight is on, doesn’t mean you’re cured.

This is why eating disorders often morph from one form to another — they’re all just different manifestations of a lack of self-love.

This is why, eating disorder recovery is 10% physical, 90% mental.

And this is why you cannot do it alone.


How do you solve this impossible riddle? How do you decide to love yourself when every fiber of your being is screaming at you to you hate yourself?

Time for some #RealTalk. You knew it was coming, so here it is.

The only way is Jesus.


And if you want to shut the laptop and say, “Psh, yeah right. NOT for me.” That’s okay. Hang in there. Keep fighting the good fight. I invite you to just read to the end.

I know for a long time, when I was entrenched in my anorexia, my mom would tell me this, and it would just piss me off. Like, it enraged me. But I can now look back and see that that rage was actually coming from ED, trying to ruthlessly protect the eating disorder, and repel the One True Source of healing. Trying to keep me from the One Thing that would actually make me recover.

The #RealTalk is this: You cannot choose to love yourself, when you hate yourself, without the help of Jesus. Only He can change your heart. Only He can chip away at the stone walls you’ve built. Only He can help you to begin to love yourself.


Recovery isn’t going to happen by eating X and Y. It’s not going to happen by distracting yourself from ED behaviors through coloring or knitting or other “alternative behaviors.” I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can’t.

Recovery is only going to happen when you decide that you are going to love yourself enough to love yourself. Because once you love yourself, all the ED behaviors will stop. You will no longer punish yourself or be cruel to yourself through self-destructive behaviors and choices. You will be kind to yourself. Gentle. Understanding. Forgiving. Accepting. Encouraging.

The only way out of ED hell is self-love.

And there is only one person who can make that choice: YOU.

And if you cannot make that decision yourself, because ED is controlling your thoughts and actions, then the only solution is Jesus.

He wants to help you love yourself. He wants to kick ED the hell outta there.

All you have to do is be open to Him coming into your heart. He is literally standing at the door, knocking to come in — because He wants to, because He loves you.

All you have to do is open the door.


I’ll leave you with this: Maybe you’re not religious. Maybe you’re “against” the whole “God-thing.” But I just want to invite you: what do you have to lose? 

You’ve been trying and trying and trying to recover on your own, but you’re still right back where you started. Exasperated. Broken. Discouraged. Nothing’s working.

Why not just give this a try? Give Jesus a chance?

Seriously, what do you have to lose?

He may just will change your life.


44 responses to “Why It’s So Damn Hard to Recover from an Eating Disorder”

  1. This is such a great post; very inspiring! I agree with you 100% that God is always there and we can turn to him in times of need!
    I hope you are well, and I know it’s hard to recover but we will get there- slowly but surely 🙂 good luck, always here if you need a chat (wilsonsophie97@gmail.com)

    • Please forgive me for butting in, as I realize this question was not asked of me, but as it hits very close to my heart I would like to share. In my teen and young adult years I was in bondage to anorexia despite being “religious”, yet, what I completely lacked was a relationship with the Lord. Thankfully God knew my need and through others was able to speak to me until I was able to hear and open up and feel His love for me. It was in reading this blog I really connected the dots and realized it was then my healing began.

      • Hey Floey, thank you so much for sharing this. God definitely works behind the scenes even when we don’t realize it. he’s always working on our hearts and laying the foundation for trust and love and yes, healing. So glad you’ve come to know this. Sending so much love and hugs. So glad youve found that freedom. Xoxox

  2. With faith and lots of self confidence it can be done. I had anorexia/bulimia for years in high school. Oddly strangers support and knowing that people like me pulled threw it all helped me also. Now yes sometimes I get sad and think I need to lose more weight and be the way I was before, but then I think back and remember the pains I caused myself and others and don’t let the disease beat me again. You can do it and I promise when you do you will love yourself even more then you could ever imagine.

  3. This is so wonderfully beautiful! I am so glad you liked my post so that I could stumble upon this. How great His power & Love to overcome anything. You show such bravery and inspiration!


  4. I have never suffered from an eating disorder, but I have suffered from alcoholism. The mental obsession and the sheer torture your anorexia caused you are a twin to how my drinking twisted me. In both cases, the root cause was self-hatred. I was not religious at all prior to my recovery. Oh, I dabbled in Buddhism, and called it “philosophy,” not “religion,” but I was very alone and dying of despair. After months of white-knuckIing it and fighting the urge to drink, I decided to just give prayer a try, and to at least be open to the idea of a God. My Liar (that’s what I called my disorder) told me it was foolish, there was nothing, stop inviting God in…. I’m so glad I finally stopped listening to my Liar! My life is so different now. It’s been almost two years since I started my journey, but I’m just now starting to learn about Jesus and Christianity. I thank you for this post, and for the reminder that there’s nothing to be lost by being open to the idea of His compassion.


    • Hi Erzsie, thank you for this beautiful comment. I’m so glad that you’ve found strength and foundation in the Big Guy:) you’re so right, here’s absolutely nothing lost. Isn’t it interesting how The Liar and ED are so similar and have the same goal?–to keep us from the One who can heal us? Thanks for sharing. God bless!!

      • Your descriptions of ED were so (uncomfortably!) familiar to my descriptions of The Liar. The obsession with exact times, amounts, panic at a deviation from schedule were all similar. And, yes, in retrospect I see that the main goal of The Liar was to keep me focused very narrowly on myself, to the exclusion of God – or even the simple peace of friendship with other people. Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience. I’m so happy you’re doing better now!


    • Thank you, friend. I appreciate the encouragement. Struggles are struggles, no matter if they have a label or not. Luckily, God does not discriminate. He is there for all of us 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. xx

  5. Absolutely wonderful post! I truly believe everything you’ve written! Jesus is our saviour, and is our saviour from ED too. Thank you for the much needed reminder! I loved this post so much! Take care! Xoxo

  6. I’ve struggled too. I thought I was pretty much over it but I replaced anorexia with over exercising. After three kids my body does NOT want to be a size 0 anymore. I’m at my highest weight (117 @ 5’5″ vs. 105lbs.) which would have been horrifying to me a few years ago. But God is helping me to live and accept my healthy, more womanly body. Self love is SO hard. So hard. Hang in there. It does get better.

  7. It’s really hard to recover from an eating disorder especially if you continue to adhere with today’s concept of beauty. My advice is to accept who you are. Be contented with your self and enjoy living you life without trying to impress or please other people. Recovery would be easier if you focus on your self first than what other people would think.

  8. This was great! You are spot on! Love is much more decision than emotion. Whether it’s a choice to love my wife even when she’s really cheesing me off or a choice to read that stupid book to my kid one…more…time. It’s always a choice. Some are easy. Some hard. It’s the hard ones that can only be made with Jesus. Thank you for this one!!

  9. I wanted to tell you that for the first time in my life, I told someone, as in my blog and under complete anonymity…that I have an eating disorder, and have struggled with it for the last 25+ years. I’m telling you this because I started reading your blog, and it gave me something I’d never had-understanding. Both from others and myself. I have always known God is here. He’s right here. But in my humanness I needed to know someone else knew me. Thank you.

    • Hi friend. Wow thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad you decided to share that with someone. I’m so sorry that you’ve been dealing with it alone for all those years. Know that I believe in you and believe that you have the power to change. you are SO worth the freedom of recovery and having an abundant life free from Ed. Sending so much love. Feel free to email me if you need. Hugs and love. Stay strong, warrior.

  10. Whoa! This was super deep. My ED is on the other end of the spectrum. Even after losing the weight, it’s still there. I am religious and I truly never thought about the cure to self-hate being self-love and since they cancel each other out, it leaves the space blank and open… Asking God to fill that empty space with love is the only way. Wow. I’m truly inspired. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much mark. I’m so glad our paths crossed. You’re right self
      Love is the only way. And God is definitely the one to fill that space. Thanks for this r reflection. Hugs and love to you xox

  11. Reblogged this on gdhayesblog and commented:
    This beautiful, insightful, honest blog post is one of many by this blogger. I’m sharing because I really appreciate what she has to share and believe there is value in her words for everyone.

    • yes! He is a God of miracles for sure! thanks again for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

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