recovering from anorexia: 10 activities

what do people do when they start on their recovery from anorexia? here is a list of ten things that those who deal with this eating disorder mention most frequently. these are activities that they themselves decide on. that’s important to keep in mind. if i were to say to one of my clients, “jo, why don’t you cook a nice meal for anne and bob? you could prepare something you like and then have some yourself!”, it would quite possibly backfire. however, i’m happy when a client comes in and tells the story of doing some of these things.

(if you’d like a bit of support with any of this, drop me a line).

1. positive eating, e.g.
meeting up with a friend for lunch, even though it’s scary to eat in public
eating a healthy breakfast (not just a 1/2 cup of dry cereal)
cooking for friends – and participating in the meal afterwards

2. engaging in healthy relationships, e.g.
choosing to go to a movie with a friend rather than staying home surfing the internet
setting boundaries with a sibling
discussing the relationship with a partner or girl/boyfriend

3. walking away from unhealthy eating behaviours, e.g.
no purging
no declining to eat in public
talking to a friend about something that makes you angry rather than starving over it

4. gentle exercise and resting, e.g.
taking a half-hour walk rather than going for a one-hour run
skipping gym for a day
resting when tired, rather than drinking black coffee

5. positive self-talk, e.g.
“i am someone, and beautiful to boost!”
“the world is not a fearful place”
“it’s no big deal. each day is just a chance to try out new things.”

6. honesty, e.g.
not saying “fine!” with a fake smile every time someone asks “how are you”
being totally honest about food with at least one person
not bottling up feelings of fear and ambivalence when having sex

7. doing nice things for yourself, e.g.
getting a long overdue haircut
going shopping for “normal” clothes (not clothes that will hide the body)
just spending a nice day – maybe reading, going to a movie, sleeping in

8. spending quiet time with your feelings, e.g.
creative visualization

9. professional help, e.g.
seeing a psychotherapist
attending group
making that long overdue appointment with the nutritionist

10. positive body image, e.g.
going to the beach in a bathing suit
spending time in front of the mirror
having sex in broad daylight

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

234 thoughts on “recovering from anorexia: 10 activities

  1. Natasha

    I’m currently in recovery, and I find the best behaviours that help me to move along are…

    Personal achievment– Doing things like short courses and working really helps, I focus my energy on achieving something else other than weight-loss and see positive results at the end.

    Constant Reassurance– Often when eating, I repeatedly ask those around me (parents, my partner) whether it is “okay” for me to be eating what I’m eating, whether it’s “okay” to gain the weight… I know what their answers will always be, but it helps to hear it repeated.

    Ones in your list that do/dont’ work for me are:


    1.positive eating: Perhaps I’m not at this stage yet, I feel very restricted in this area.

    4. gentle exercise and resting: I have too little control over this and always end up exercising for the wrong reasons and in excess.

    5. positive self-talk: I just find this impossible to do.

    9. professional help: I actually find the professional help to be more stressful and detramental to my emotional state than beneficial. I prefer to be given the space to work things through on my own. Sometimes the professionals make me feel trapped and consumed even more-so.

    10. positive body image: I’m crappy with this and always end up comparing and stuff, so I avoid it.

    DO WORK:

    2. engaging in healthy relationships: A form of distraction, this makes me feel loved, special and takes my mind away from the negative thoughts.

    3. walking away from unhealthy eating: I’m not always good at this and do slip up and purge, etc. but walking away definitely does help at times.

    6. honesty: When I have the strength to do this one, it does help… but it’s a matter of me not wanting to ‘burden’ people with my rubbish.

    7. doing nice things for yourself: Getting my nails or hair done always makes me feel special and deattracts attention away from my negative self-image and thoughts.

    8. spending quiet time with your feelings: Writing is a huge helper, art and music too. I would recommend any of these, almost above everything else, to people trying to recover.

    This was a ridiculously long and pointless note… I think I wrote it more for my own benefit than anything else though, sorry!!!

    Thanks for your post, I’m sure it will benefit a lot of people in need.

  2. isabella mori

    thank you, natasha, for such a thorough reply! this was SO not ridiculous and pointless!

    i’m really interested in what you have to say about writing, art and music. any specific recommendations you would make?

    writing has helped me a lot in getting through difficult times, too, so of course i’m particularly interested in that …

  3. anonymous

    hey thanks for this im going to try them…ive been trying 2 recover for the last 4 months and recently its been SO HARD its unbelievable but so many people have been stictly watchin me so ive resorted to other things which is bad but helped well yeah i feel the same as .natasha. who rote before and writing does help but it feels pointless but good for me at the same time..??so sorry if this get a bit umm babbily i guess no one reely realised how depressed i had actually been before i started to stop eating…there was so many issues going on with me n the voice inside my head was telling me whot to do and whot not to and every one around me like at school(i go to a bording school)and my sports coach and my family all thort i was for attention…so i just nodded my head n i wasnt going to tell them y because then THEY would feel bad and i didnt tell any one whot i was thinking feeling/eating/doing because i felt like an selfish attention seeker it only reely got serious i spose in the last couple of months…i dont even no y im writing this i dont even reely it want it on the net but i no that i luv reeding people with anorexias stories..for some reeson…but when i was at my worst everyone just made me stop like they didnt give me a choice n my frends and house staff like wouldnt let me not eat but i nevah got to see a counsellor or nutritionist coz i was to ashamed and embarressed and thort i was overreacting to ask…but ive read some stories and i think i wish i was hopitalized because that was one of my goals n it nevah happened so part of me wants to do it all agen just to get there…n i guess thats part of my story so ill get back to u n let u no which numbers helped me..and stuff had to help but yeah these look like reely good ideas and im going to try them starting today…thanx heeps for ur help..wuld u mind if u rote back and im not reely shore if this appropriate to be posted on this site…but yeah thanx anyway

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  5. maria meyer

    I just recently figured out that I might have a problem. It’s so strange, its just that I was overweight about 2 years ago and then when I started to lose weight I felt like I couldn’t stop. It felt so good and I felt pretty, which is something I haven’t ever really felt like. Even when I knew that I could probably stop losing weight, it gave me a weird sense of accomplishment if I could do more. I haven’t gone to see anyone about this, but am trying to get better on my own. I don’t feel like anyone understands though. My husband just says to eat more, but my biggest fear is being overweight again. I feel out of control when I eat whatever I want. It’s just nice to read some of these comment and know that someone feels the same way.

  6. isabella mori

    hi maria, thanks for dropping by. you bring up something really important – the interplay between overeating and anorexia. i send you my best wishes with dealing with it by yourself. naturally, that’s the first thing to do when we have challenges like this. and please be aware that there is lots of support. i’m really glad that you found these comments useful.

  7. Some One

    I think i’m anorexic. i was overweight in august n now im about 110 or less. im 5’6 btw. i started off eating healthy and being in shock at how many calories i actually used to eat. i was in aww! amazed i actually ate so many calories. and now im obsessed with everything i eat. i dont want to lose anymore weight. i know i need help. i look gross. i want to eat more but dont want to become obese again. like if i change from eating little to more i know ill gain weight..which i want ..but i dont want to keep and keep and keep gaining weight. like will it stop. i dont know what to do or where to go. 🙁

  8. lost on the net

    I just found out my bmi is 16.7 and it’s so so scary, my family just seem to think gaining weight will be the easiest thing in the world and they don’t get how much I hate myself when i eat, and i feel so out of control. I’ve never been overweight, but losing weight felt good, like an acheivement. And now I hate myself when I eat, and when I don’t eat. I look terrible, and I know that but it doesn’t change how I feel about eating.

  9. isabella mori

    hello lost on the net … yes, most people who have not dealt with challenges around food before think it’s really easy: “if you don’t weigh enough, eat more, and if you weigh too much, eat less.” i hope you can find someone who can walk with you through this difficult time, someone who will understand how you feel about all of this.

  10. Liz

    I have a question, and this is one of the first places I’ve happened upon while looking things up online. Is there any kind of web site or book or anything that has simple, nutritious recipies or instructions for people who can’t force themselves to eat enough? I need some kind of “eating for beginners” instructions. I’d like to eat more. I’d like to eat healthier foods. But it’s such a burden and then I’m never sure what is good for me in the first place.

  11. isabella mori

    your question is not unusual for people who are in the early stages of recovery from an eating disorder (from what you say, it looks like that might describe you – correct me if i’m wrong). i’m a great believer in connecting up with people who’ve gone before you.

    you could go to one of the forums at something fishy, one of the best resources for people with eating disorders, or connect with someone at local OA group (they’re not just for people who struggle with overeating; they’re also for people with anorexia and bulimia).

    you could also try to find a nutritionist who understands your situation.

    here is another link that provides a good introduction to learning about healthy, complete nutrition:

    it takes a while to learn about this – intellectually and emotionally. go easy on yourself!

  12. Charlotte

    i am 20 years old and have spent the last 5 years dealing with anorexia. two years ago i managed to get myself up from 58 lbs to 98, but than realized i was almost in the triple digits and relapsed. i found myself 48 lbs and told to be a miracle that i am still alive. after having 3 ambulances at my house within 2 weeks and refusing admittance to the hospital, i have taken things into my own hands and am doing much better than anyone thought possible. i do however still have difficulty eating, of course, but also am very afraid of another relapse. my heart can’t handle it, emotionally or physically. i wondered how often people relapse, and if it is possible to truly, 100% recover and one day not have to worry about it, just to be able to eat normally and make all of this nothing more than a bad dream. i know it sounds overly dramatic lol but i am so afraid that this is going to kill me…any insight or advice would be more than appreciated. good luck and love to anyone else going through the same ordeal.

  13. Ashley

    I am trying to recover. I understand every single comment everyone has made on this page. I have also been in therephy for 2-3 years and I have still not gotten better–actually, I have gotten worse. I think about things WAY too much and I know it, but I can’t stop. Does anyone else here just want to be told exactly what to eat, when to eat, where to eat…everything?! Just so you couldnt have to think about it anymore?

  14. isabella mori

    many people who consider themselves recovering from anorexia talk exactly about that: that true recovery is when thoughts of food are just more or less part of the whole landscape of your life.

    food is nourishment that the body needs, so we lovingly give that to the body, and when the right amount has been reached, it’s over and we move on.

    sounds simple, doesn’t it. i know it can be very hard to comprehend for anyone with an eating disorder (never mind put it in practice.)

    a friend of mine who is happily recovering from decades of struggling with anorexia always says that one of the best things one can do is to focus away from the food. take the attention elsewhere.

    “i am not ‘an anorexic’,” she would say, “i am someone who is dealing with anorexia, but my life is so much bigger than that!”

  15. Katie

    I have an eating disorder that isn’t exactly anorexia (even though I did believe that I was anorexic for a while.. I sure look it) but once I started seening a pshycologist i found out its ocd. Which makes sense because I don’t think I’m fat and never did. But my obsession lies in food, and I can’t stop. It’s been over 6 months since I’ve had anything that I couldn’t count the calories in. I have to know the calories in everything. Just about everything I eat is prepackaged so I can read the nutrition facts. I’m terrified of fat, too. In cheese, egg yolks.. all that stuff. But anyway, despite the fact the the cause of my eating issues are slightly different, I’m having the same problem stopping myself from doing it as all of you who are trying to recover as well. All I think about is food. I watch a movie, I see a show, I read a book, I’m with my friends.. but my mind is somewhere else: what I ate and what I’ll eat next. There can never be more that 100 calories at once. I’m 5’8 and 95 pounds. And I’m trying so hard to fix myself, but I’m terrified! What happens once you start gaining weight? Does your metabolism ever go back to normal? Does your stomach go back to normal? Why am I bloating so much now that I’m forcing myself to eat more? Will that go away? Do you ever stop obsessing? Do you ever get used to eating normal things? How long does it take to be at risk for osteoporosis? What else could happen to me? What happens to you while you go back to a normal weight?

  16. Isabella

    (note from isabella mori, the author of this blog – the commenter is a DIFFERENT isabella)

    I am a recovering Aneroxic and have been starting to binge lately at night. I finally got over my fear of peanut butter but have started eating it alot more than I probably should. Sometimes I feel like when I start eating it I can’t stop! My mom, try as she might, will never understand the disease and therefore the peanut will still be an item in our house no matter what I request. Can anyone offer advice on late night binges?

    For Katie– I started eating regular meals this May when I came home after graduation and always felt bloated. I had reached my lowest weight of 98 llbs about 3 years ago and realized that I needed help. Your body tries to repair itself so the bloating you feel could be from that. It’s what happened to me too! The bloating eventually goes away– for me it’s been a discovery of what my body actually LIKES and WANTS. It’s matter of listening to yourself and feeling ok in your own flesh. I still struggle with this sometimes, when I put on jeans or look in the mirror at the wrong time. I still have an obsession with it– but it lessens with time. Some things aren’t worth it and my boss once told me you get happier as you get older. I’m hoping she’s right and that I’ll be able to focus 95% of my energy on family, friends, and art, instead of food. Good luck, it’s worth a try to be happy and get of this cycle.

  17. Joanne

    To Isabella,

    I can relate to what you are saying because I am in that exact same position myself. I am a recovering anorexic as well, and while I am still slightly underweight, I have begun to binge on my old comfort foods (nuts, chocolate, anything unhealthy, you name it). I have only recently gotten over my fear of those foods and I can only bring myself to eat them at night, when I am on my own. I look forward to eating my old ‘forbidden foods’ so much that I have actually begun eating less during the day so I can save up my calories for the junk food at night. I am terrified at the intensity of my cravings. My Mum tells me that I am craving all these foods because I have not allowed myself to eat them and I am currenly feeling very deprived. She says the cravings will lessen, but I am still scared that I will end up obese. I have been fighting anorexia for a year, and before that, I was hefty although not overweight. I hated it then, and fear that I will return to where I was before.

    Right now, I am trying to revert back into a normal eating routine which I started when I was at home (I just moved out to start university which disrupted my eating habits). It is just hard to find the strength sometimes when you want to be thin and happy.

    Do any of you have any advice for me to break out of this?


  18. Isabella


    The best advice I can give to you try not to get caught up in the social network around you if it entices unhealthy habits. My problem developed while I was in college, and before I even realized it I was too far in over my head to get out of the issue without help. College is stressful- late nights- studying- tests- comparing yourself to others in your school. The best thing is to try to learn yourself- when you’re hungry- how long you should work out, etc. Also, I know it always helps me when I have sechdule- so if it helps to plan out what your eating or when you can eat in between studying, socializing and classes definitly do that. It seems somewhat extreme but every night before bed I would plan out my next day on a post it note bit by bit, when I should eat lunch and dinner in between my five classes, gym time and meetings… It kept me sane even through the tough times that I knew I had a plan.

    Also– I have a hard time with this– but try to be gentle with yourself. Know that there will be some nights where you should have ate more, or should have not eaten so much– and know that it takes time to get over this problem. Know that if there is a time where you eat to much– it’s only a few minutes of your life, you aren’t a bad person, and forgive yourself and move on.

    Oh I also use to keep a post-it note on my desk that read “some things just aren’t worth it” and it would remind me when I wanted to restrict that I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself.

    good luck with everything and keep trying!


  19. Isabella

    oh and being thin doesn’t always mean you’re happy- when I was 98lbs. I was a miserable person, always tired, awful to be around, and thought that counting the calories in a stick of gum was the only way to make me happy. Needless to say– I’ve been skinny– and trust me i was no where near happy or had the energy to do everything I wanted.

  20. Joanne

    Dear Isabella,

    Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement.

    Since my last post, I have put on more weight and I feel absolutely dreadful. I am in the awkward stage where I feel lousy because I am no longer as small as I was before, and yet I love the taste of food too much to restrict my food intake. Because of this, I am really finding myself looking forward to being able to eat all the foods that I previously never allowed myself to touch, and as a result I always eat more than I should. I sometimes find myself standing over the bathroom sink debating whether or not to vomit out what I have just eaten (I don’t, but there are times when I have been SO CLOSE). My suicidal thoughts have increased in frequency.

    I am certain this is either a manifestation of the anorexia, or another form of an eating disorder. The preoccupation with food is still there, as is the obsession with being thin/body image. When it comes to nighttime, I cannot seem to eat a bit and stop. I get really strong cravings.

    Is this normal in the recovery process of anorexia? Or is it the start of another problem? I need help.


  21. isabella mori

    thanks, isabella, for your ideas, and thanks, joanne, for sharing your struggles with us.

    to all of you who are deep in the struggle with anorexia, PLEASE make sure that you have SOMEONE who you can talk to – preferably someone with experience with recovery and/or a trustworthy mental health professional.

    part of the reason for that is that there are lots of questions, like the ones that you bring up, joanne.

    what is “normal” is hard to say but what you are going through is anything but unusual. it can almost feel as if the anorexia has a mind of its own and buckles and acts up when a person tries to overcome it. nighttime bingeing is very typical. some people deal with that with emphatically “closing the kitchen” by a certain time – say, 8 pm.

    i hope you will find the help you need. i’ll also contact you privately.

    btw, i really like what isabella said – “the best thing is to try to learn yourself- when you’re hungry- how long you should work out, etc.” that can be really difficult with anorexia (a condition which is often aimed precisely at numbing this kind of knowledge) but this is so important.

  22. Catherine

    I am a recovered anorexic…(yes, there is such things as recovered!!!) I am 20 years old and am finally in a normal BMI range, which I’ve never been my whole life. I was always naturally thin, but when my body wanted me to actually develop it freaked me out so I started restricting.

    Fortunately, my parents noticed my sudden “healthy” eating habits and got me a wonderful team of therapists to treat it. It takes your body a little boost to get out of that dangerous underweigt range, so when it was taking a long time for me to gain weight they told me I might not be able to go back to college. I realized my school, friends, and life were more important than something as silly as calories in food and I just had to try harder, every meal eating more. Everyone has been amazed when I visit home and the treatment facility because I moved away and have been buying normal groceries for myself and eating like a normal person.

    Sometimes I eat a lot in the day, sometimes I eat a little bit less…It all balances out. Now that I’m nourishing myself extra I can exercise, but I take days off and just hang out with friends. I also also eat something after I workout, i.e. fruit with peanut butter.

    Last night I tried on a pair of my skinny jeans and they wouldn’t close and I just cried for an hour. These things might happen, but it’s normal. The point is, I realized my worth is not a number on a jean take, especially such a small one. Plus, curves are beautiful. It’s normal to have relapses in thinking, but you just need to keep eating normally. It’s so much better to prevent an eating disorder or prevent relapse.

    By the way, I only restricted for about 6 months and I have osteoporosis. It is reversable if you’re enough, like me, but you can’t deprive nutritents and food to do that.

    This brings me to my next point: Find your own ways to cope. For me, it’s reading research articles through our school library on the long term effects of eating disorders. From my readings I have found that sure, you can take calcium pills, but they won’t do much if you’re deteriorating your body, which isn’t just fat. It’s muscle and bone too. I can’t believe at 20 I have a potentially disabling disease and am I trying everyday to reverse it, which I know at a minimum will take a year.

    I also learned that it only take a few days of fasting to seriously harm your bones. SCARY!

    Recovery is possible though. I am definitely recovered and I am committed to never relapse because eating disorders are not a way of life. You can be of a healthy weight and exercise and eat in moderation, have normal relationships, and BE HAPPY!!! Seriously, I am happier now that I can’t fit into those small jeans!

    Not to mention, it’s kind of nice feeling “above” the whole propoganda that thin is in. Notice that most with e.d.s are women? Hmm…I know with mine it was also a control thing, but I have to admit the media was a part of too.

  23. isabella mori

    thanks for your input, catherine! your comment about finding your OWN ways of coping is so very important. if you don’t mind, would you share a bit on how your own particular way of coping came about for you – how you realized that that helps you?

  24. Catherine

    My own ways are coping are as follows:
    *not isolating myself from loved ones, i.e. going out to dinner with them and truly enjoying the company and food too

    *working hard to have the mindset that I can trust my body to balance if I eat a little too much one day.

    But really the best for me is this:
    every time I want to restrict I look up research on the effects of eating disorders and osteoporosis (especially because I know I have that), ones that are credible. It scares me so much that I never skip a meal anymore because malnutrition is so harmful to the bones. I also don’t drink coffee or diet soda to limit my appetite. In my research I found that the phosphoric acid (found in pop) and caffeine (found in coffee and usually pop too) are no no’s for bone health.

    I also stay away from calorie counting or anything that would lead to me OCD about food.

    But it’s really what works for you. Once you find your own coping ways then can seriously become a part of you, like a reversal habit.

    I truly hope someone will read this and benefit! I will never forget the nightmare that was my eating disorder and I can’t stand knowing others are still feeling that pain!

  25. samantha

    I’ve just come to the realization that i may have a problem. my mom passed away when i was 10 and i never really dealt with it. i turned to substance abuse for a while, and my boyfriend made me realize that i’m doing more harm to myself. so for the past 6 months, i just haven’t been eating. it’s the one thing that i feel like i have true control over. and now i’m trying to deal with things. i don’t want to see a doctor because i feel like that will make me feel worse and that i’m just a nut case and i want someone to fix me. but i want to fix myself. i want god to help fix me and to do things naturally. if anybody has similar experiences, i’d love to talk to someone who knows what i’m going through. because really, no one else around me knows.

  26. Kirst

    im 17 years old and i am in the beginning stages of recovering from anorexia. i was in a verbally abusive relationship from over a year and i have a father (who i dont live with) but his doing still affect me. he is ann alchoholic and drug addict, who has been in and out of jail since i can remember. last year i was nearing 160 pounds, when i became extremely unhappy with my weight and started “dieting” it started out healthy, i just ate better and lowered my caloric intake to about 1800 a day. …until it became an obsession. over the summer i started eating less and less and less until i neared about 130 pounds. its amazing the compliments you get when you lose so much weight and how much “happier” you are. i now realize that it was a problem and i was becoming obsessed with losing weight and being thin. although people tend to think that being skinny = being happy. it doesnt. at all. i got down to about 110 pounds, my hair was falling out and i was eating anywhere from 400 to 600 calories a day. then using laxatives at night to get rid of what i ate. i felt so guilty when i ate anything over “my set limit”. i never made myself vomit or anything but i came so close so many times. until my mom confronted me. shes my angel. when i was at my lowest, my mom told me i was a week from being in the hospital and having IVs and everything. and i was ready to admit and stop denying my problem. one night i decided to actually “eat” with my family and have a big dinner. and after that dinner(that tasted so good) i binged for about 3 hours. and everynight since then ive been doing it. ive only put on about 6 pounds im at about 119 or so now. i just want to know if this binging will stop.

  27. Joanne

    Hi Kirst,

    I am eighteen and know exactly what you are talking about because I am in a similar situation as you. This was the exact same question I asked my family, friends, and all the professionals I was seeing. I too one day just decided that I was going to eat, because I wanted to get better and also because I love food so much. The thing is, I suddenly realised how good food tastes and I would binge everytime I ate a meal.

    I discussed this issue with all the parties mentioned in the previous paragraph, and unfortunately, the answer to my question was, there is NO answer. Apparently, the binge eating could be a temporary symptom of your body’s lack of food, but could also hint at a longer term problem. I hated not knowing and thought it was safer just to eat less again, which just made the whole thing worse.

    I wish I could give you the answers you seek, but I am searching for them too. The only thing I can do for you is describe my current situation in brief. As I said before, after hearing professionals tell me that I should have a ‘healthy diet’ and not binge, I panicked that I was being ‘unhealthy’ and ‘bad’ so I tried eating ‘healthily’ and began to restrict my food intake, which made me lose more weight. Obviously, that wasn’t the way to go. It took me about two months to finally decide that I was sick of controlling every mouthful so one day I just decided to buy a huge box of chocolates after dinner one night and I finished the whole lot, enjoying every second of it.

    Now that was a turning point. I began looking forward to my after-dinner treats, and now I eat A LOT. I have just reached my minimum target weight, but I’ve yet to get my periods. So, that is my motivation to keep up my weight. I honestly am concerned that I might develop a binge eating disorder, but I know if I dwell on it too long, I will want to lose more weight again.

    I am not going to tell you what I think is best for you, because I don’t know what’s best for you. I don’t even know what’s best for myself yet. But for me, putting on weight the ‘healthy way’ just didn’t work because I was so unhappy about eating food that was healthy but I didn’t enjoy, and I was also still being scared of all the unhealthy foods. It was only when I made the decision to face my fears and eat the junk foods that I began to fear them less.

    I am now heavier than I was before, heavier but happier. I still binge at night, but my cravings are starting to diminish. I used to stare at pizzas, burgers, chocolate bars and cookies, longing for a taste, but now that I’ve had my fill of them, I can’t be bothered. My tastes shift, I will crave certain things for a few days, then get sick of them. Now I crave yoghurt-covered banana chips. I am hoping that with time, the cravings will just fade away.

    What brought me a lot of comfort was what I heard a friend tell me a while back on a completely unrelated topic. She got sent to a type of boot camp for three months, and was only allowed to eat the food there, which needless to say was terrible. When she got out, she went on a junk food spree, eating ice cream and everything else she craved. This lasted a month before things just went back to normal. She put on weight at first, then lost it as her eating patterns stabilised. Now this happened to a normal person after just three months. I don’t know how long you were starving but I had anorexia for 18 months, and there were days when I ate as little as 300 calories. So my theory is, people with anorexia are bound to get cravings when they start eating, and chances are, they are going to last for quite some time.

    Of course, I am not suggesting that you be like me and eat all sorts of nonsense, but taking this route to gain weight was the most successful for me. If I were you, as long as you don’t feel really awful afterwards and decide to purge or restrict the next meal, I’d just give in to your cravings, because they will just come back with a vengeance once suppressed. Enjoy the freedom that you have because you actually have a reason to put on weight.

    I hope this helps and that you find your path to recovery. I might not be there yet, but I do know how much anorexia has taken from my life and now I am determined to fight it and get better. We only get one life, and it’s mighty short. So we should make the most of it.


  28. Samantha

    I am 34 years old, 5’6″ and currently 114 pounds. I have had OCD my entire life and have been on and off of Zoloft for years for my obsesessive thoughts and compulsions. This past June I stopped taking my meds cold turkey (bad idea). I was 159 and decided it was time to join a gym and lose some weight. I started working out everyday and eating healthy foods and elimintaed sweets, fast foods and anything that was just calorie ridden. By the end of August I was at 133 pounds and began to realize that I was fearing foods I had eliminated and even low-fat items. Counting calories and “points” became an obsession and I wouldn’t allow myslef anything if I didn’y know the caloric intake of it. The thought of food and numbers played vividly in my head from the minute I woke up to the time I went to bed. Food thoughts and numbers controlled My thought process shifted to a thermo-dynamic perspective. Whatever I ate I had to burn. I knew I was spiraling out of control and finally “crashed” . I saw my doctor and have been going every 3 weeks for the past month. All bloodwork shows that my body is functioning properly. I am also seeing a psychiatrist once a week. My current weight is 114 and I am in a size 4 pant (was a 14!). My doctor said I have to get back to 130 and NO gym/exercise. I realize I am underweight but a part of me actually finds a sense of satisfaction being so much thinner.

    I weigh myself EVERY morning and have to stop but it helps alleviate some anxiety. Unfortunately, I let the scale dictate how I will feel each day. I get disappointed in myself and mad if the numbers go up at all (even thought I know they are suppose to). Any suggestions for how to stop this way of thinking?

    More importantly, I am eating the same foods at approx the same time each day. If I divert from the “normal safe” food(s) I worry about the scale the next morning. I will not allow myself regualr foods like pasta, burgers, chips etc. It’s a high fiber ceral with fruit every morning, coffee, a banana snack, red grapes with a turkey wrap for lunch, an apple for afternoon snack and dinner which is usually more cereal or a chicken wrap with salsa. That’s it. Can’t let myself eat out, order in or make meals for my husband and I like I use to. If I do, I won’t have any of it. It’s so frustrating. All I tell myself is “You can’t have that.” How do I get over this?

    Any suggestions??? Thanks in advance for any help.


  29. Catherine

    Samantha, I’m sorry you’re going through this right now, but it can get better. I realize it’s an OCD tendency of yours to weigh yourself a lot, but seriously if you want to be healthier and gain weight, which you definitely should, then you need to stop weighing yourself. Weight fluctuates soooo much. Plus, think about it, muscle weighs more than fat. A lot of anorexics lose bone mass, like I did (severely and I was only for about 6 months) so that could be a reason the number is going down. Now that I’m in a normal weight range I feel stronger because when I ate more I lifted weights more than cardio, so my dr. said I’ve gained weight in more than just fat. And like you realize, the oh-so magical number on the scale can vary from hour to hour, by what you’ve drank, and other reasons. Another suggestion, take a break from the gym a few times of the week. You don’t need to go everyday and for hours. Do something relaxing or fun for yourself that doesn’t depend on your size, i.e. go see a movie that you’ve wanted to for a long time instead. And don’t isolate yourself, even if you want to. People DO eat together and it’s normal, so it’s okay to diverge from your meal plan to be with others. If there’s a birthday party and there’s cake, it is okay to have some in celebration. It’s not going to kill you. You’re not going to get fat…everything can be eaten in moderation. Part of recovery is learning to eat according to what you feel like eating at the time and not dwelling. I really hope you can get to that place because it is really wonderful and it allows your mind to keep up with more important things in life than food and calories and diets.

  30. Pat

    My daughter is working through anorexia and I’m a devoted mom trying to find a way to understand what she’s going through. Reading the comments of everyone really helped to understand so much more. I don’t want to focus on her anorexia. There’s so much more to my daughter than her eating. She is wonderful! I just need to understand how to not push too hard. I need help to trust in my daughter. She is highly motivated to stay in college and loves her friends. Her glass is definately half full!
    Thank you so much!

  31. Stephanie

    Just been browsing the net for advice. My best friend has developed an eating disorder, about a year ago she started to loose weight and looked amazing for it! but then she became skinnier and skinnier, I’ve been so worried about her, and had a chat with her trying my best to be as tactful as possible and not scare her away. She admitted that her “no carbs” diet just went a bit too far and that she is struggling to stop it. As time has gone by she didn’t seem to be improving and when she comes over for dinner it has become a big issue..but I try not to make it an issue infront of her so as not to make her feel uncomfortable. The last thing I want is to make her feel pressured into eating as I know it’s a big battle for her in her head. She has broken down in tears to me asking for my help. So here I am..lost as what to do next… I have suggested maybe going to her doctor for advice..medical advice.. but I dont think she is too keen. She is trying to introduce more food into her diet again..and I suggested maybe we could make up a diet plan together of new foods to start eating again..I thought that having a diet plan would give her some rules and she can focus on the new diet and then slowly build from there.. she seemed quite happy with that idea..but am I going about this the right way??? I dont live that close to her anymore and so can’t keep an eye on her as much as I would like to..If anyone has any suggestions I would be very grateful..Thank you.

  32. Pine

    I was anorexic a few years ago. I managed to ‘recover’ with help from friends and a family member.
    But im afriad that ive gone from one extreme to another.
    Sometimes I do have trouble eating a meal, breakfast is always the hardest, i had breakfast for the first time in over a month today. Its my new years resolution to eat healthily and try not to care about my looks.
    I am becoming afraid to eat because when i start i cant stop. its horrible. most of the time i end up binging and feel so guilty i take a load of diet pills and eat bran flakes and drink tea till i go to the toilet.
    I feel disgusting. I have put on weight. I dont want to go back to old habits. i just want to be happy, healthy and normal.
    but when i eat i just dont stop. i know i should. i tell myself that i should stop now. but i cant. i dont know how to explain it.
    ur probably thinking im pathetic and stupid and that if i want to stop then just stop thinking about it and do it. but i cant. its not that simple. or maybe it is and i am just pathetic.
    But the binging has become more often and a habit. and its become my way of coping with the stress of life. but i know better.
    thats why im trying to be healthy. but i dont know if i can. i dont know if i can cope. i just dont know what to do.

  33. Catherine

    First of all, I have to say that I’ve been keeping up with this site and it’s really helped and I feel fully recovered.
    Pine, I can definitely relate with the feeling of no control with your eating. I really think the first thing to do is get professional help, because if you’re mixing your emotions with your eating then it’s still a problem.
    I think it’s sooo awesome that you got through your anorexia with friends and family.
    In regards to the bingeing, my friendly advice to you would be to try eating meals. Even if just an apple in the morning just to get you in the habit of breakfast. And just try focusing on food as health that you need to fuel your body, that is enjoyable as well. Eat often, 3 to 4 hours, don’t think of yourself as restricting so you don’t go overboard. Don’t hate yourself for this. Your body is probably just well, confused because for awhile you didn’t eat. Not to mention, eating too much probably isn’t going to hurt you as much as barely eating…eating too much doesn’t make you lose hair or lose your period.

    Let me know how things go with you!!!
    Take care.

  34. isabella mori

    hello everyone, this is isabella mori, the owner of this blog.

    i want to tell you how grateful i am that this here can be a bit of a forum for people to exchange ideas and experiences. or, as they say, “experience, strength and hope.”

    @pat, you sound like an awesome mom. it’s so hard to not just step in and say, eat, eat. i wish you continued strength in trusting your daughter; hopefully that will model trust in herself.

    @pine, as you’ve probably guessed in reading some of these entries here – people who are recovering from anorexia often start to binge. it doesn’t HAVE to be part of the experience but it does happen. eating meals is a fantastic suggestion, thanks, catherine – meals that have a beginning, a middle and an end.

    and don’t forget that you pretty much are learning to eat again. so of course there’s a lot of stumbling around and trying things out and falling on your face.

    hopefully you have a trusted professional with whom you can discuss all this.

    @stephanie – you’re being a fantastic friend! and maybe that’s what she needs the most, a friend. if your plan isn’t working in a hurry, perhaps the best thing would be for you to help your friend find someone who has some experience with helping others move through recovery – a counsellor, nutritionist or doctor. because if you get too deeply invested in her recovery, your friendship might be in danger, it might just be too much.

    this is just my “professional gut reaction” – of course i don’t know anything about you and your friend, so i can’t tell what the best course of action is.

    as always, i urge anyone with eating disorders to check out your local eating disorders clinic, somethingfishy and overeaters anonymous, a group that is for people with the whole variety of eating disorders.

    please also don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to talk offline.

  35. pine

    To: Catherine and Isabella

    Thankyou for your help and advice.
    I am trying to eat healthily, a friend checks up on me everyday and asks what iv eaten, how much. hes a good friend, im lucky, although feel guilty.
    but I dont want to see a professional, my parents dont know about my problems and i dont want them to, it would just cause unneeded upset.
    Thankyou. Xx

  36. isabella mori

    hello pine, and thanks for checking in again!

    great that you have a friend who’s helping you.

    i understand that you don’t want to upset your family. did you know, btw, that you can see a professional without your family finding out about it?

  37. Pat

    Hi Pine-
    As a Mom of someone working through anorexia, I can say it was a big relief for my daughter to finally tell me she was facing her challenge with anorexia. Although I worry, I feel as if I can be a support of love and trust. She sees doctors on her own and is also seeing a nutritionist and counselor. She lives 5 hours away from me at college and has had to be independent and I’ve had to get used to her dealing with her health as an adult. However, I am doing it and feel better knowing I’m in the know about her. Hang in there! God bless!

  38. Kristina

    Hi, my name is Kristina and you can check out my blog. (the link is above) I have struggled with anorexia for over two years and it has been hard. I remember when I first realized that maybe this was more than a serious diet. I know seeking treatment can be hard and therapy isn’t easy and gaining weight isn’t either and i have had some bad experince with treatment. It is worth it if you truly want to get better just not make some one happy. If you are over 18 your parents are not required to know. If you are under but still don’t want to tell your parents, I suggest you call a hotline. They will help you and maybe even help you with your parents. There is also school conselurs. They can be really helpful with everything and can hold family sessions. (at least at my school) Remember there is always help and hope out there. The earlier you get treated the better. You also need to find the right person for you. If at all possible find one with an eating disorders specialty. Some people are just not the right fit, just keep trying, there is someone out there right for you.

    Kristina’s last blog post..Weight

  39. angela

    My name is kristin and i have been suffering from anorexia on and off for 14 years..just recently about 1 1/2 ago it came back with a vengeance. i went from 110 (i am 5’1) to 100 then 95. then i saw a nutritionist and when she asked me what i wanted to lose i said i wanted to be down to 85..well, i got there and then lost more, recently i got down to 74. i am getting married in April and everyone is worried about me. i recently started to throw up everything i ate. i was happy about this because i could eat whatever i wanted and all i had to do was make myself throw up and then i was fine, all the food i just ate was gone..i would do this all the time, twice a day, and it worked right everytime.
    then i said i would stop this and start eating healthy. i would eat fruit, health choice meals, etc. then i notice myself still feeling hungry and would eat popcorn or something healthy, AFTER i just made myself throw up…this past week, i tried to go back to the eating whatever i wanted (because it made me happy to know i could just make myself throw up after i ate). WELL, just noticed the past couple of days, i tried doing this and …to my dismay, it doesn’t work anymore..i now i am scared, for the past 2 months it worked every single time..just ate whatever i wanted and made myself throw up..i would take me 2 minutes and it all would be back up again…now is not working..been trying to make myself throw up for the past week and ….NOTHING is coming back up..tried and tried a couple times…nothing..
    what happened..why won’t it come back up? when it was every single time and now nothing..i know i shouldn’t be doing this period, but i just want to know why, after it was working like clock work and now all of a sudden it is not?

    –Need to know why?

  40. Aliyah

    im new to this, but i just want sum suport.
    im currently going through anorexia recovery. Its soooo hard
    i get good patches and bad patches . sometimes i feel so low i want to jus die, sometimes i feel so positive i feel i can do anything.

    anyone know how i feel?
    i hate anorexia ! 🙁

  41. isabella mori

    hi aliyah and welcome!

    yes, it’s darn hard, and quite the rollercoaster, isn’t it?

    would you like some information on people who’ve gone through this experience in your area? i don’t know where you live but maybe i can help you with that. i’ll send you an email, ok?

    in the meantime, is there anyone who’s been on here before who could share a bit of their experience?

  42. Aliyah

    heyy yeah i jus feel i need motivation and people to keep pushing me
    i jus ate a big dinner, well it was big to me and i feel really fat and stuff 🙁
    i weighed myself and its gone up by half a pound since before dinner!
    i hope its jus water retention and not fat
    does anyone else weight themselves constantlly?

  43. isabella mori

    there is a saying i really like, “scales are for fish not humans” 🙂 they are DEFINITELY not good for humans with eating disorders (they’re not very good for people who deal with overeating, either, which you might find surprising)

    can you get rid of the scales? there’s always outside places – gym, pool, doctor – where you can weigh yourself once a month if you need to do that for health reasons.

    btw, fat takes a while to settle in your body. the half pound is the weight of the food you ate.

  44. Aliyah

    so will the weight go away?
    i hate sounding so obsessive, i just want to enjoy food and not worry about being fat 🙁
    but i guess thats the mission

  45. isabella mori

    don’t worry about sounding obsessive … as you recover, that’ll go, too.

    “i just want to enjoy food and not worry about being fat” – yup, you got it, that’s a huge part of the mission.

    as women, we typically burn somewhere between 1500 and 2500 calories a day, depending on frame, level of activity, metabolic rate, etc. if you’ve just started recovering from anorexia, chances are you might have to eat a little more than what you burn to get back to a healthy body weight. (a rule of thumb is a BNI of 18.5+).

    these are good topics to discuss at a forum such as check it out!

  46. Aliyah

    my bmi is only 15 and ino i have to get it up
    i jst ate sum banana and a rice cake
    it was really nice, and i hate feeling guilty about eating!
    hpw long do you think recovery takes on average?

  47. isabella mori

    how long does recovery take? of course that depends on how you define “recovery”. it’s super individual. let’s put it this way, though: if you really work at it, it’ll probably take at least three months until you start feeling that you have firm ground under you feet.

    as i said, please check out you’ll be able to talk to LOTS of people who are working on their recovery.

  48. Aliyah

    ok thankssssssss
    had a councellin session today, it was goood.
    i asked her if there was grouo therapy i could try, but theres none in glasgow 🙁


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