Annie, one of my patients asked me this great question (What does recovery from an eating disorder look like?).

Here is what I told her: You'll feel carefree about weight and eating, you'll have your period, you'll be following the food plan except it won't feel like a plan, your weight will be stable, you won't worry about little fluctuations in your weight, you won't weigh yourself often, you'll exercise when you feel like it and mostly for fun, you can enjoy a day on the couch without worrying about your weight.

Annie replied, yike! This sounds scary. I told her that recovery doesn't come easy and that most people have to take on some risks and be willing to experiment. You might call what I said next, paradoxical. I usually remind patients that if they aren't pleased with the results of the experiments, they can go back to the status quo.

For Annie, the dilemma is a fear that she will gain weight if she eats a full serving of protein (4-6 ounces of meat, fish, chicken, etc) at dinner. Annie, I said, don't forget that if you actually gain weight, you can return to your more limited dinner. I also gave Annie a copy of The Rules of Normal Eating by Karen Koenig. This book has helped a number of my patients move forward into "carefree eating." As Annie left my office, I said as I often do, hang in there, recovery is worth it and so are you.


Nutritionist Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto, co-authors of The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders, Gūrze Books, ( Marcia is also author of Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders (
Copyrighted by Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto

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