Myth Vs. Reality of Accomplishment


By: Alison Sabean Myth: Eating disorders are all about food.

Fact: Eating disorders, strange as it sounds, are actually not about the food.

The abnormal behaviors and thoughts that occur in relation to food are a way of coping with life stressors. A person with an eating disorder subconsciously uses food to numb out these stressors. For example, one of my thoughts was, “restricting my food intake, and feeling the effects of that, gives me something to focus on aside from the true issues at hand.” Another thought I would have was that using my eating disorder gave me a sense of accomplishment, even if it was negative accomplishment. I felt like I was not “good” at anything else. For the record, engaging in an eating disorder is not an accomplishment – it is actually the opposite. Behavior usage won’t help accomplish anything, and it is not an effective way to cope in the long run. Realistically, true accomplishment is working towards recovery.

Merriam-Webster describes accomplishment as “a quality or ability equipping one for society.” Think about this: how do eating disorder behaviors and thoughts help one achieve accomplishment? They don’t. The eating disorder wants you to be alone. It wants you to focus on staying ill and sad. It wants you to base all of your self-worth on your weight and food choices. So think about the opposite scenario: How has recovery helped me achieve accomplishment? Primarily, it has helped me realize that I am so much more than my eating disorder, and I don’t want or need a diagnosis to define me. There are many better, more important ways to define myself: loving family member, friend, cat-lover, writer, musician, good listener, compassionate…the list goes on. In the depths of my eating disorder, I was not able to see past my flaws, and was convinced that the only way I could be labeled was “that girl with an eating disorder.” Starting the path to recovery helped me realize that I exhibited the characteristics above, and the validity of the following saying:

“Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

I have learned to say this and believe it, and doing so without feeling like I am gloating or being self-centered. Thinking positively about myself is the core to my healthy level of self-esteem. I have come to the realization that it is easier to show my love for others when I feel the same way about myself. Do I love myself every second of every day? Truthfully, that is not realistic. That is still a work in progress for me. Recovery does not automatically make my life perfect – because a perfect life does not exist for anyone – but it is the best thing I ever worked towards thus far in my life, and completely worth the struggle it took to get there. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, low self-esteem, or body image issues, I want you to take a few minutes to think of positive characteristics you value about yourself. If you have trouble with this, know that many people out there can list your good qualities. Start by accepting the compliments you are given. I want to make sure you are given a compliment today: you are a great person, and you matter. Please pass a compliment on to someone today.

This post was originally published here

About the Author: Now fully recovered from an eating disorder, Alison is devoted to helping others who struggle with the issue. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and is looking to pursue a career in writing and mental health advocacy. She is very excited and grateful to be a part of the Project HEAL Boston Chapter! She invites you to check out her blog, Nourish to Flourish (! When she is not writing, Alison enjoys healthy exercise (especially barre and yoga!), being with friends and family, listening to music, and watching the Ellen DeGeneres show.