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  • Writer's pictureKelly Neilson, MDA RD LD

Yes, You ARE Sick Enough and Deserve Eating Disorder Recovery

The eating disorder voice in your head will go to great lengths to convince you that you’re not sick enough or deserving of help.

There’s a competitive nature within the illness itself. It wants you to prove that you do have an eating disorder by meeting a made-up standard it’s given you.

This could be reaching a target weight, fitting into a certain size, or finally having others realize that you’re suffering.

Often the eating disorder makes you a deal and will convince you that once you’re sick enough, then you can consider treatment. This is simply NOT true.

The tricky mind game your eating disorder plays is that it will never declare you sick enough and its goal is to keep you trapped.

We’re going to discuss why you ARE sick enough and worthy of receiving treatment and care!

Woman exercising on the beach wondering if she is sick enough

Reasons You Might Believe You’re Not Sick Enough

Here are a FEW of the common concerns many people dealing with food and body issues face.

These examples will hopefully demonstrate that you’re not alone in feeling like the eating disorder voice in your head is LOUD.

Have you caught yourself having similar thoughts?

I don’t look like I have an eating disorder.

My weight isn’t below the charts for a true diagnosis.

I haven’t been struggling for a long time like others.

I don’t have an issue eating X, Y, Z so I must not have a real problem.

My doctor didn’t notice any symptoms, they’re not concerned.

My insurance won’t cover treatment for me--I knew I wasn’t truly sick.

I didn’t have to be rushed to the hospital or put on a feeding tube.

People who are sick receive inpatient treatment, which was never recommended for me.

I didn’t lose my period.

I don’t have medical complications and my labs are normal.

My family and friends would never believe me if I told them.

It can feel like you’re invalidated when it comes to your food and body difficulties because of how poorly handled eating disorders are in our society.

Our whole system, which is blinded by diet culture and weight stigma, more often than not encourages disordered eating behaviors, which only confuses you more.

If food and body thoughts are disrupting your life, this is a sign that you are sick enough.

Eating Disorders Do Not Discriminate

Eating disorders are mental illnesses and you WILL NOT be able to determine someone’s suffering by their physical appearance.

ALL people are susceptible to an eating disorder regardless of their body size, age, ethnicity, gender, culture, race, and socioeconomic status.

It’s MORE common to be in a straight-sized or a larger body with an eating disorder than a smaller body. Less than 6% of people diagnosed with eating disorders are underweight.

The stereotypical image of an eating disorder is harmful, as people picture a young, emaciated female as the primary definition of an eating disorder. This creates barriers to the majority of those suffering.

Misconceptions result in a failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis by medical professionals, limited access to treatment, insufficient education, and lack of awareness.

When the majority suffering from these serious life-threatening illnesses are underrepresented they are also underserved.

If you are being praised for your disordered eating behaviors and they’re deemed socially acceptable without anyone recognizing there’s a problem, it can be very hard to receive help and believe that you do have a problem.

The Diagnostic Criteria Is Flawed

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that may result in physical side effects.

Even when considered the most deadly of all mental illnesses, people are still stuck with feeling like they have to fit into a box of appropriate symptoms that “qualify” the seriousness of their disorder.

This is damaging because if they don’t check the boxes of a diagnosis then it’s another roadblock in the way of their recovery. Again, they feel like they’re not sick enough.

There’s a spectrum of disordered eating and you do NOT need to be on the extreme end of it to experience consequences from your behaviors. Your physical and mental health are both affected negatively even if the damage is unnoticeable at first.

Eating disorders are a lot MORE COMMON than you think and you don’t need a clinical diagnosis to allow you to finally receive help.

Feeling Like You’re Not Sick Enough Is a Typical Sign That You Have a Problem

Freeing yourself from the pain of an eating disorder takes courage and honesty as you’re having to confront and challenge uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

Wanting to keep your disordered behaviors around is a very real desire. The behaviors that you’re taking part in could feel protective, safe, and used as a way to cope.

The “sick enough” question is evidence of the control that food and body worries have over your life. It also means that you’ve contemplated whether you need to seek help. Therefore, something is prompting you to make a change.

Disordered eating and body image issues are common, but it doesn’t mean that they’re normal. They’re only a risk factor for dangerous complications, and the longer you delay your recovery, the longer you’ll be delaying your life.

The Perfect Time to Start Eating Disorder Recovery Is Right Now

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses and you are NOT crazy for wondering if there’s a problem while also having a hard time believing it.

The best action you can take right now is to talk with a dietitian who knows how eating disorders work. Send me a message and we’ll walk through this together! I’m here for you and I’m ready to help you!

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