When Thinner Isn't Better. Larger Bodies and Eating Disorder Recovery

Amy Christie


Photo by StockSnap / Pixabay.com

When you think of people struggling with an eating disorder you picture them as extremely thin? Turns out it’s a misconception. Bodies comes in all sizes and shapes and it’s just as important to keep recovery on track if you happen to dwell in a larger body.

There’s no set rule about how someone affected by an eating disorder should look like. In fact, several cycles of losing weight through undereating followed by binge eating will inevitably cause weight gain in time. So, it’s totally possible to have slim people dealing with anorexia as well as fat ones.

Why does this happen and why the misconception?

Atypical looks for eating disorders are not that unusual. Everybody responds differently to unhealthy menu variations and it’s no wonder you could be living in a large body while fighting to get back on track.

The impact of the weight stigma

It’s so much harder to recover and stay on a positive mindset when you have to deal with unreal images related to eating disorders. People in this situation often delay starting treatment and feel that they have no place to voice their problems since they are engulfed by what the mainstream media shows as the typical person who deals with eating disorders.

It’s not just about magazines and social media though. It all starts in families or within a circle of friends. When a person finds the courage to confess that they need help because of an eating disorder and is met with incredulity the problem gets deeper.

It’s unfair just how often it’s simply assumed it’s not true and that they invented an excuse for their weight. Unfortunately, they even get congratulations when they lose some weight precisely because of the underlying eating disorder.

The misconceptions intimidate patients who need professional help

All the reactions people in larger bodies get from their loved ones when they disclose their eating disorder can influence them significantly. They might even end up believing they don’t have an issue at all. The surprise and disbelief from each person they talk to can make them convince themselves that they don’t have a problem at all.

This is dangerous for their health since the denial will only make the treatment come very late. Why is this encouraged when there should be open talks about eating habits no matter the size of one’s body?


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Recovery gets double hard because of body size

The main issue is that people with larger bodies will still be encouraged to avoid eating too much or to restrict their menu, even though that goes against recovery therapy principles. When relapses occur there are purging behaviors, restricted eating, or exhausting endless exercising.

These are the issues that could result from peer reactions and specialists’ refusal to believe patients:

1. The affected people become convinced that they are different

They feel they must be ‘broken’ or incapable of handling a healthy way of eating. Their perception of calories and food intake will get tangled up with the idea that the larger body is a personal fault and that it is desirable to starve or limit themselves constantly, killing spontaneity and curiosity for any dishes.

2. There is an enforced separation based on physical appearance

Disbelief and cruel jokes will raise that invisible, but tangible barrier between people. Continuous deprivation or binge-eating relapses will make the void seem bigger every time until it looks like there’re no way to bridge it over and the patients accept that they are isolated. Recovering on their own will be very challenging and their health could deteriorate at a faster pace.

Weight bias go against feeling well and cherishing yourself

Shame about body size will get in the way of structuring the right menu for recovery. It’s essential to avoid sending out the message that if you are already in a larger body you need to diet for the rest of your life. That might push people affected by eating disorders into chaos and end any resolutions they have to get back on track.

Someone who has recovered doesn’t necessarily have an athletic-like body type. Pressure about portion size and photos with recovered people that are not too slim, but still very fit won’t help at all. Each patient is worthy of help and treatment regardless of their body size.


Photo by arvndvisual / Pixabay.com

End the fat phobic mentality

Being fat and recovering are not opposing ideas. Your recovery is just as valid as a slim person’s. The important thing is to find the right treatment for your needs, focus on your daily eating behavior, and stay away from people who encourage you to shrink your body.

Listening to symptoms is far more important than assessing appearance. Make sure you are having the right amount of food. If you don’t nourish your body, there is no way to recover. Give yourself permission to eat the foods that provide you with vitamins and minerals. They will make you strong again and will empower you to go beyond the weight-oppressive mindset.

You are so much more than the size of your body. Your ideas, skills, ad unique qualities make you impossible to replace. Surround yourself with the people who appreciate you, choose a professional who can fulfil your requirements, and keep going on the road to recovery.

Love your body size because that’s the house for your soul and dreams. Don’t let anyone diminish or underestimate you! Make each moment the best moment of your life. It won’t come again.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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