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Letting Go of Unrealistic Standards in Eating Disorder Recovery

April 16, 20244 min read

Picture this: You're on your journey toward healing, going through the highs and lows, when suddenly, you find yourself bombarded with images of "perfect" bodies, diets promising miraculous transformations, and whispers of society dictating what you should or shouldn't look like. It's like walking through a maze with no end in sight, constantly battling against the waves of unrealistic expectations crashing upon you.

The impact of these unrealistic standards on eating disorder recovery cannot be overstated. They can create anxiety, guilt, and self-doubt, hindering your progress and leaving you feeling defeated before you even begin. Understanding the roots of these standards is the first step toward removing their power over you.

The Influences of Society

The influences of society and internalized beliefs play a big role in shaping our perceptions of beauty and worth. We find ourselves caught in a cycle of comparison and self-criticism because of the pursuit of body size portrayed in the media to the subtle messages ingrained in our cultural norms. But here's the thing: these standards are temporary, often driven by profit or old-fashioned ideals. They do not define your worth or determine your journey towards recovery.

Perfectionism: Black-and-White Thinking

Perfectionism, that sneaky little voice whispering in your ear telling you that unless you achieve perfection, you're not worthy of love or acceptance. Sound familiar? Many of us who struggle with eating disorders also grapple with perfectionistic tendencies, setting impossibly high standards for ourselves and berating ourselves when we fall short. But here's the truth: perfectionism is not your friend. It's a barrier to healing, trapping you in a cycle of shame and self-sabotage.

So, how do we challenge these black-and-white thinking patterns and cultivate flexibility and self-compassion? Here are a few strategies to consider:

1. Challenge All-or-Nothing Thinking

Instead of viewing recovery as a linear progression from "good" to "bad," embrace the idea of growth and resilience. Recognize that setbacks are a natural part of the process and an opportunity for learning and self-discovery.

2. Practice Self-Compassion

Be kind and understanding to yourself. Replace self-criticism with words of encouragement and remind yourself that you are worthy to be loved and accepted, imperfections and all.

3. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Celebrate small wins as you go. The size of the progress doesn’t matter as long as you are moving forward. Each win is proof that you are getting stronger and more resilient.

4. Surround Yourself with Support

Seek out individuals who uplift and empower you on your journey towards recovery. Surround yourself with friends, family, or even a support group who will motivate and encourage you in your eating disorder recovery journey.

5. Seek Professional Help

Don't be afraid to reach out to a therapist or counselor who specializes in eating disorder recovery. They can provide you with the tools and support you need to face the challenges of recovery.

Body Image and Eating Disorder Recovery

It's a journey filled with twists and turns, but one where every step forward is worth celebrating.

Do you know those harmful beauty ideals society throws at us? You know the ones I'm talking about: the pressure to fit into a certain size, to look a certain way, to conform to an unrealistic standard of beauty. But, like we said earlier, those standards are bogus and temporary. They don't define your worth or your beauty. Your uniqueness, your quirks, your imperfections are what make you stunningly, undeniably you.

The media and cultural influences have bombarded us with images of airbrushed perfection every single day. It's no wonder so many of us struggle with our self-image. Those images are often heavily edited, manipulated, and totally unrealistic. It's time to take back control of how we see ourselves. Let's curate our social media feeds to include diverse bodies and voices that uplift and inspire us, not tear us down.

Mindful Eating

So, where do we go from here? How do we start accepting our bodies and nurturing a positive relationship with food? Mindful eating.

Mindful eating is all about being present, tuning in to your body's cues, and savoring each bite without judgment. It’s not about diets but more about nourishment, both physical and emotional.

It's easy to get disconnected from our bodies when we're bombarded with external messages about what and when to eat. But our bodies are smart. They know what they need, and they'll tell us if we listen. So slow down, take a breath, and check in with yourself before reaching for that next bite. Ask yourself if you really need to eat that food out of hunger or you just want to eat because there’s nothing else to do and eating is your way of passing the time.

Let's build a nourishing relationship with food. Instead of seeing food as the enemy or a source of guilt, let's celebrate it as fuel for our bodies and joy for our souls. Experiment with new recipes, explore different cuisines, and savor the flavors and textures that make eating a pleasure, not a chore.


self-acceptancemindful eating
Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

Jeanne Prinzivalli

Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

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Phone: (323) 879-7809

Copyright@2023 Blossom Wellness Spa, Inc.