Ready to begin recovery from anorexia or bulimia? These tips can help you overcome an eating disorder and develop true self-confidence.

How do I begin recovery from an eating disorder?

The inner voices of anorexia and bulimia whisper that you’ll never be happy until you lose weight, that your worth is measured by how you look. But the truth is that happiness and self-esteem come from loving yourself for who you truly are—and that’s only possible with recovery.

The road to recovery from an eating disorder starts with admitting you have a problem. This admission can be tough, especially if you’re still clinging to the belief—even in the back of your mind—that weight loss is the key to your happiness, confidence, and success. Even when you finally understand this isn’t true, old habits are still hard to break.

The good news is that the behaviors you’ve learned can also be unlearned. Just as anyone can develop an eating disorder, so too, anyone can get better. However, overcoming an eating disorder is about more than giving up unhealthy eating behaviors. It’s also about learning new ways to cope with emotional pain and rediscovering who you are beyond your eating habits, weight, and body image.

True recovery from an eating disorder involves learning to:

-Listen to your feelings.
-Listen to your body.
-Accept yourself.
-Love yourself.

This may seem like a lot to tackle, but just remember that you’re not alone. Help is out there and recovery is within your reach. With the right support and guidance, you can break free from your eating disorder’s destructive pattern, regain your health, and find the joy in life again.

Reach out for support

Once you’ve decided to make a change, opening up about the problem is an important step on the road to recovery. It can feel scary or embarrassing to seek help for an eating disorder, so it’s important to choose someone who will be supportive and truly listen without judging you or rejecting you. This could be a close friend or family member or a youth leader, teacher, or school counselor you trust. Or you may be more comfortable confiding in a therapist or doctor.

Choose the right time and place. There are no hard and fast rules for telling someone about your eating disorder. But be mindful about choosing the right time and place—ideally somewhere private where you won’t be rushed or interrupted.

Starting the conversation. This can be the hardest part. One way to start is by simply saying, “I’ve got something important to tell you. It’s difficult for me to talk about this, so it would mean a lot if you’d be patient and hear me out.” From there, you may want to talk about when your eating disorder started, the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors involved, and how the disorder has impacted you.

Be patient. Your friend or family member will have their own emotional reaction to learning about your eating disorder. They may feel shocked, helpless, confused, sad, or even angry. They may not know how to respond or help you. Give them time to digest what you’re telling them. It’s also important to educate them about your specific eating disorder.

Be specific about how the person can best support you. For example, you may want them to help you find treatment, accompany you to see a doctor, check in with you regularly about how you’re feeling, or find some other way of supporting your recovery (without turning into the food police).