Weight fluctuations are a normal part of eating disorder recovery– but that doesn’t make them any easier.
The only way to truly recovery from your eating disorder is to surrender all efforts spent on trying to control your weight and body size. This goes without saying, but all behaviors such as dieting / food restriction, binging, and purging (aka the things that cause weight fluctuations) must come to an end in order to recover. This also means not suppressing your natural body weight. Many individuals who have been engaging in dieting / disordered eating behaviors for years are unaware of what their healthy weight range actually is, so it’s unfair to set a pre-determined goal weight without allowing for flexibility in that range.
When it comes down to it, we simply aren’t in control. One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from my colleague, Meghan Kacmarcik, RDN, LDN. She says, “If you’re a size 8 shoe, you’re not going to be able to comfortably fit into a size 7, no matter how hard you try. Just like your body: You can’t force yourself into a size you weren’t meant to be. You can’t defy science.”
But with this release of control comes many scary new steps, one of those changes being your body size.
So…..weight changes are hard for anyone, much less someone who is in recovery for an eating disorder.
It takes time and self-compassion to learn how to accept your body for where it’s at.
To make things more difficult, once you’ve come to terms with your new body, you often realize that none of your clothes fit– and that’s a problem. As if treatment wasn’t expensive enough, a new wardrobe is just as much (if not more)!
Here are 7 tips to help rebuild your wardrobe during eating disorder recovery (and helped save some cash while doing so):
- Sell or give away clothes that no longer fit: One of the most helpful things a person can do is get rid of his/her/their “sick clothes”– the clothes that will not fit if / when you stopped engaging in eating disorder behaviors. As painful as it can be to part from some of these items, it can also be a big weight off of your shoulders– there’s now no more pressure for you to fit into clothing that doesn’t work for your body! Sell what you can and give away what you can’t sell.
- Shop Online: If you aren’t quite ready to face the dressing room, online shopping could be a great option for you! Read reviews to determine the quality of what you’re buying and whether or not the size runs big or small. Try the clothes on in the safety of your home, and if they don’t fit, no big deal! Ship it all back for free!
- Buy neutral colors: Selecting neutral colors can help give you more bang-for-your-buck because it makes it easier to mix-and-match different items. I generally tend to buy more neutral colors when I am shopping for cardigans, jackets, and pants, and add in a pop of color with dresses, shirts, shoes, and jewelry.
- Ditch the name brands: Some people who are reading this are able to afford Lulu Lemon, Nike, and Free People, even with the cost of treatment factored in…but many are not! Some of my favorite pairs of leggings have come from Walmart, and cost around $8-12 dollars. Totally affordable and still super cute!
- Experiment with your style: During eating disorder recovery, you have the really unique opportunity to rebuild your life from the ground up, and you get to decide who you want to be. When the eating disorder is in control, individuals often get lost in their identify, and have to constantly work through the question, “Who am I without my Eating Disorder?” Style is included in that. The way you dress is one way to use your voice and express yourself to other people in a way that is not self-destructive. So be creative! Have fun piecing together outfits.
- Don’t stress: At the end of the day, clothes are just clothes. In 20, 50, and 100 years, no one is going to remember the clothes that you were wearing. They are going to remember who you are as a person and how you contributed to their life. Life is more than the clothes you wear or the size of your body.
Photo: Pixabay / 2goldi