Admitting You Have an Eating Disorder

Eating is something everyone does. And no one is perfectly happy with their eating habits all the time. So it can be difficult to see and admit when your relationship with food has become a more serious problem for you.

If you have feelings of shame, secrecy, self-criticism, and isolation related to food or your body that are recurring, those are red flags that your eating may be disordered. Acknowledging that these difficult feelings exist —even though you wish they didn’t—and opening to the possibility of help is a huge step in the healing process.

But it’s not always easy or straightforward to get yourself there. In this blog, we explore a few ways to help you consider the possibility that you might have an eating disorder.

1. Becoming comfortable with the words

It can be scary to consider adding a label to yourself—to acknowledge a shift from “healthy” to “not healthy.” It’s common for people to not want to admit that they have a problem, even to themselves. But it’s good to remember that the words “eating disorder” are just a tool for you to more easily explore a pattern of behavior that is concerning to you.

If the words “eating disorder” are too scary to say (even to yourself) don’t let that frighten you away from reflecting on your behaviors and patterns with food. Be honest with yourself: Is your behavior causing you suffering? Asking yourself this question is a great first step. If you are not yet comfortable using the words “eating disorder,” that’s okay. Continue to check in with yourself and reflect on your relationship with food. Be honest with how you feel. This is progress.

The words are less important than the intention. While there are definitions for the different eating disorders, the key takeaway to consider is whether you are happy with your relationship with food and your body. If not, then there is room for healing—and healing is possible.

Having the words to speak to yourself about what’s going on in your body, heart, and mind is a wonderful skill to cultivate. Practices that can help strengthen this skill of mindful reflection include meditation and journaling.

2. Moving past secrecy

For those who binge, restrict, or purge, it can cause feelings of shame, which lead to being secretive around friends, colleagues, and family. The number one way to be more open with others is to practice being more honest with yourself. A tool to do so would be a daily 5-minute reflection practice to consider your thoughts and feelings throughout the day and perhaps the reasons why.

At some point, you might feel ready to explore sharing your struggle with a close friend or relative, although not everyone will.

If you do, here’s something to try: In the privacy of your own home, explore what you might say to another person about your eating disorder. For example, if you are usually secretive about binge eating, maybe try out some phrases that sound true to you but don’t take you too far outside of your comfort zone. Maybe: “I really struggle with overeating when I’m feeling anxious.” or “I feel like I’m often unkind to myself about how I look.”

Then, in a way that feels comfortable to you, try it out with the person you had in mind. It can feel like quite a relief to connect with someone and start the process of opening up around this issue, even if you don’t go into specifics or reveal the extent of what you are dealing with.

3. Asking for help

Feeling ready to ask for help can look different for different people. For some, it might look like a gradual opening up: first to yourself, then maybe to a close friend, and finally, a therapist. For others, it might be more immediate: You just binged, your self-critic is screaming at you, and you feel moved to take action to face the suffering that your behavior is causing.

If you don’t already have a therapist, consider finding one who has experience with eating disorders. The eating disorder recovery community is unique and beautiful. Many of the clinicians helping clients through their recovery have gone through an eating disorder themselves, so they can have unique and helpful insights.

And with the advent of telehealth, you can hopefully find a specialist in your state or area to consult with, even if there aren’t any options locally. Some practices combine psychotherapy and nutrition counseling from dietitians, which can be quite effective, helping you tackle the emotional and behavioral sides of the issue.


Are you ready to speak to someone about your eating disorder?

Evolve Wellness Group is a collective of therapists and nutritionists who are experienced in helping people heal from eating disorders. Connect with us for a free 15-minute call.