Recovering From Anorexia -- Learning To Trust Food
Anorexia can cause serious health problems as the body struggles to cope with an absence of nourishment. The challenge of recovering from anorexia is learning to trust food again.
For anorexics, food is the enemy. Food equals fat. Food intake is something to control, monitor, and ration according to a strict plan. The anorexic equates feeling safe with controlling food and avoiding weight gain at any cost.
Most cases of anorexia go untreated unless diminished body weight causes health problems that require medical treatment. At this point, the anorexic may be placed in a residential treatment center. Treatment can range from 30 days to 6 months. During this time the patient is educated about anorexia and receives therapy. Food intake is monitored to restore health. Some form of aftercare is usually recommended.
The problem in recovery from anorexia is a distorted body image. When an anorexic looks in the mirror, they see fat, regardless of weight. Self-perception is unrealistic but, for anorexics, it's still the truth. The biggest hurdle for recovering anorexics is accepting the premise that what they see in the mirror is not a true reflection of their weight. This can be difficult to overcome. Most of us trust our own perceptions, and anorexics are no exception.
Anorexics can recover from the effects of starvation and associated health problems, but most will never be able to feel comfortable with a "normal" weight. Recovering anorexics may not be starving, but they usually remain slender and are uncomfortable with the idea of gaining weight beyond what's necessary for health and survival.
One of the biggest helps for recovering anorexics is participating in a support group with other recovering anorexics. When an anorexic is confronted with the fact that their bodily perception is distorted, they have a difficult time believing it, especially when this comes from friends, family and professionals. When told that they're not fat, the anorexic thinks others are lying to help them gain weight.
Other anorexics can help with this. When an anorexic is told by another anorexic that they're not fat, they,lll be more inclined to believe it. Anorexics who are already in recovery can share their experience with the distortion of body image.
Recovering anorexics may still be controlling about food. They'll still count calories, monitor fat, and know exactly what they've eaten on any given day. The need to control food can be channeled into creating healthy and nutritious meals. Some recovering anorexics become experts about nutrition.
If you have a loved one who's recovering from anorexia, don't expect them to change their personalities. They'll always struggle with a distorted body image, they'll probably always wear a size 0-2 and and they'll still fear fat. They'll still want to control food. But they can recover to the point of trusting food enough to maintain a body weight that keeps them out of the hospital.