Here is something to think about.
How is your environment shaping your ability to recover right now?
Here’s the truth: your environment can contribute to your eating disorder or it can boost your recovery journey. When I was in the trenches of my eating disorder, I was obsessed with the fashion world. My ultimate goal was to get a modeling contract and walk the global runways. I scrolled through fashion websites for hours and knew the name of every model, photographer and agency in the industry. I would read online chat rooms (this was almost a decade ago) that openly discussed and scrutinized the bodies of well-known super models. These forums would go as far as posting photos of models and blasting them with fat-phobic comments whenever their weights changed. I scavenged these websites, hoping to be like the girls in the photos I saw. The fashion environment was undoubtedly toxic for my mentality and body image. I imagine Instagram has that same effect for many people struggling with food and their bodies today.
When I left the fashion world, I left that toxic environment and suddenly, my recovery was more possible. Leaving the environment gave me the opportunity to surrounded myself with new people with healthy mindsets and better manage my triggers. When I created a recovery-positive environment for myself it was a definite game-changer.
A recovery positive environment is one that embraces all food and all bodies and discourages negative behaviors or unhealthy ED thoughts. A pro-recovery environment is a patient and kind one that supports your recovery journey and minimizes your exposure to triggers.
To create a Recovery-Positive environment for yourself, you can do the following things.
1) Throw away your scale- When you throw away your scale, it’s making a powerful statement that you’re ready to stop weighing yourself. When you stop weighing yourself, you can slowly realize that you are much more than your numbers, and that you can find happiness outside of the scale.
2) Revamp your closet- Get rid of any “goal” jeans or smaller clothes that no longer fit you. Stop clinging to those jeans you wore in high school or college- you are a totally different person now, and also a full-grown person! It’s also useful to throw out the bras that feel triggering, and anything else that doesn’t fit your body or make you feel comfortable in your own skin.
3) Hide/Ignore nutrition labels- Slap some masking tape of use a permanent maker to block out nutrition labels within your home ! As a recovered person, I hardly ever look at nutrition labels but when I do, I still get caught in a flurry of guilt and internal conflict that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t see the label in the first place. Nutrition Labels cause fearful thinking, and provide details that can easily be obsessed over. What sucks THE MOST about nutrition labels is that often times they cause you to pick a “healthier” food than the one you actually want. This generally leads to food denial, food restriction and the demise of your personal ability to eat intuitively.
4) Clean your social media feeds- Unfollow all accounts that praise dieting, weight loss, and fitness accounts (namely those that put a heavy emphasis on working out for appearance over strength or joy). More importantly, if you follow any accounts of other people who also have an eating disorder, delete those too! Those are dark, toxic accounts that perpetuate disordered behaviors and thoughts.
5) Surround yourself with pro-recovery and body positivity mindsets- When you’re done deleting the toxic accounts, add some pro-recovery and body positive accounts to your feed. You can follow my IG: @babygtbck, or @projectheal for a pro-recovery point of view. @bodyposipanda, @emilytebbets (hey girl)! are also great places to start for body positivity! The key is to follow accounts that embrace all shapes and sizes, including accounts of fat people (fat is not a bad word)!
6) Join a supportive group- Surrounding yourself with people who are also in recovery or are already recovered is a great way to create a pro-recovery environment for yourself. If you live in a city, check to see if there’s a Project Heal chapter near you. I lead the Communities of HEALing group in Boston, and we meet weekly. This group is special because it’s run by recovered mentors. It’s also super therapeutic to be able to relate to others and realize you’re not alone in recovery.