There is no recipe for eating disorder recovery. Recovery is, for a lot of reasons, the most ambiguous stage of an eating disorder. People will assume that normalcy has resumed, and maybe even doubt that there was ever a problem in the first place. The new normalcy is, in fact, nothing like life before an ED. In the wake of a new chapter, it’s okay to grieve the loss of life before recovery, and it‘s okay to be afraid of what is to come. It seems like eating will never appeal and will always be something you have to do. There were some steps that I found helpful when doing the impossible: Feeling food excitement again, like I used to when I was five years old, and when the best thing about every day was dessert.
Make it a Social Occasion
It’s easy to lose sight of how nice it is to sit down with friends and catch up over a few slices of pizza. Inviting your best friends to try restaurants or recipes with you is not only a bonding experience, but also a social way to reintroduce yourself to the foods you loved before. An eating disorder is a lonely place, but recovery does not have to be.
Create Your Own Recipe Book
Recipe books can be overwhelming. Once I started photocopying recipes and creating my own version of a recipe book, full of meals I felt comfortable making, I started to feel more at ease in the kitchen. Yes, it is important to challenge yourself, but baby steps are valuable too. It’s also completely valid to admit that you will never like green beans or mushrooms, ED or not. Sifting through the millions of available recipes and choosing the ones that appeal to you is, eventually, very therapeutic.
Join a Food-Related Society
For me, joining the baking society on campus was a very recent step, and one that took a lot of pep talks from my family and friends. Vegsoc, baking, coffee, cocktails (because drinks can be especially challenging fears to overcome) and a general food society are all available to join at Leeds. Joining any society in recovery is a victory, but food related ones are an opportunity to witness people coming together and celebrating food, rather than fearing it.
Edible Subscription Boxes
Did you know that you can get food subscription boxes? Getting snacks, meals and treats delivered to your door is a unique way to create a buzz around food. The anticipation of receiving a box introduces a variety of foods into your diet, instead of sitting around all day dreading another digestive biscuit or tin of beans. It provides the push you need to try new flavours that you’ve been avoiding, but subconsciously craving.
It’s important to acknowledge that despite all these steps, it’s alright to take it slow. And some days, you will still wake up and feel anxious about meal times. Recovery is a slow and continuous process that you have to continuously fight for. But the moment you pick up a piece of chocolate and feel excited to taste it again, is a moment I promise you won’t ever forget (or regret).