This is an article I wrote for UpBeat, a magazine created by Beat, the leading eating disorder charity in the UK. If you are or know someone who has suffered with an eating disorder, please help out by donating to Beat today. Even a small amount goes a long way in helping Beat support individuals living with eating disorders worldwide.
Beyond the trek: My road to binge eating recovery
Let me start off by saying that recovery does not mean cured. The road to recovery is not linear. In fact, the road to recovery is much like the trek that I went on in the Sahara – full of sand dunes, detours, and endless stretches of desert. Sometimes it even includes some backtracking. But ultimately, it is a journey that is just as full with wonderful realisations as it is with challenges, some of which I would like to share with you today.
My first such realisation came on the third day of the trek when, despite the aches and the blisters, I was still moving forward. For more than five years, I had abused my body not only through my eating habits, but also through my criticism towards it. And yet, here I was on a 100km trek and my body was carrying me through the desert towards the finish line, in spite of it all.
My second realisation came several months later. Yes, I was still binge eating occasionally, but my relationship with my body had changed. I finally saw it for more than what it looked like; I was grateful for what it had done for me and for what it still does for me every single day. I no longer saw it as something that needed fixing. Rather, I saw it as something that needed nourishing.
The most important lesson that I have learned is that eating disorders really do come in all shapes and sizes. But then so do human beings. Healthy is not your weight, your shape, or your size. Healthy is not a particular type of food. Healthy is not a certain amount of exercise. Healthy is body positivity.
So if you are reading this, remember that it is because your body is literally keeping you alive right now. Cherish it. Nourish it. Be kind to it. Remember that your worth doesn’t lie in how your body looks; it lies in what your body does for you in spite of everything that it has been through. And it lies outside of your body, because you are so much more than your physical form. So accept your body, befriend it, and, eventually, learn to love it.
It is through Beat, body positivity, and my mindfulness practice that I am on this road to recovery from binge eating disorder today. Every road is unique and sometimes it doesn’t feel like a road at all, but rather like the endless desert where roads are simply mirages we create as we place one foot in front of the other. But remember, you are not alone in that desert. And we will all meet at the finish line. Simply find your path and carry on.