Your Eating Disorder Recovery Has To Come First

December 24, 2014 Jessica Hudgens

When I first embarked on the long road that is recovery from anorexia, I did so half-heartedly. It was something I thought I "should" do, so I just went through the motions. I saw my therapist. I saw my dietitian. I went to a support group. But aside from that, very little changed.

I continued to run. I continued to binge. I continued to restrict. I continued to take pills. I would do recovery if and when it was convenient for me. But I certainly wasn't going to rearrange my life. Recovery was on the back burner and would be dragged up front if I had a moment to do so. It was definitely not a priority. It was as if I were an alcoholic who faithfully attended meetings and followed them with trips to the pub.

Why Does My Recovery Have to Be a Priority?

Your recovery has to be a priority, in short, because your eating disorder was. You made sure to make time for your eating disorder and now you need to make time for your recovery. I say this with great confidence and mean it with every fiber in my being: Until you make your recovery the biggest priority in your life, you will never recover.

There is a story about a philosophy professor who brought an empty jar into a lecture hall and showed it to his class. He poured a bag of rocks into the jar, filling it to the top, and asked if it was full. The students, of course, replied that yes, it was full.

He took another bag with pebbles and poured them into the jar, shaking it slightly to fill in the gaps. He again asked the class if the jar was full and they replied, with understandable skepticism, "No?" He smiled and poured sand into the jar, which leaked into all the empty spaces between the rocks and pebbles.Recovery from an eating disorder is only successful if it is a priority in your life. Here's why you have to put recovery from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating first.

Some people continue the story and add water, but the point remains the same: if you don't put the big things in first, there won't be room for them. And your recovery is a big thing. It needs to go into this proverbial jar first and fit other things around it.

Early on, there were a lot of things I put ahead of my recovery. To list a few: church obligations, friendships, family, work, career aspirations. And all of these are worthy things to value. However, my eating disorder was destroying all these areas of my life and more. If I wanted to keep the things I valued, recovery was the common denominator.

If you think there is an area of your life that your anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating hasn't affected, please comment and let me know. I would be happy to correct you. I have had to have people correct me over and over again when I was too entrenched in my illness to see clearly.

I don't want to beat this horse into the ground, so I will leave you with this question to ponder: Is your eating disorder recovery a priority in your life? If not, why not - and what would need to change to make it so?

We’ll talk later about how putting recovery first looks, exactly, but the first step is acknowledging where you are and what needs to change in your priorities.

(*I originally posted this Friday, but because of some server issues, it got eaten. Like the amateur writer I am, I had failed to save my own copy. So this is a re-write of that article. All of your comments were lost too, I am sad to say, so even if you commented before, please comment again!)

Jess can also be found on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Hudgens, J. (2014, December 24). Your Eating Disorder Recovery Has To Come First, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Jessica Hudgens

December, 24 2014 at 2:54 pm

This is a great post. Thank you.

December, 27 2014 at 9:40 am

"Early on, there were a lot of things I put ahead of my recovery. To list a few: church obligations, friendships, family, work, career aspirations. And all of these are worthy things to value."
My husband told me that I wasn't sick. So I had to put my recovery on the back burner, so to speak. He threatened me with leaving me with a child and a house while I was a stay at home mom with no money of my own. I was so threatened that I had to do what I was told.
Today, it is not that way. He still does not accept my illness and says that it is a choice. I did end up in another inpatient program (which he is now trying to use against me). We are getting divorced. The situation is still tense and I know what I need to do for my recovery. It doesn't mean I do it every day. It means that I'm in a place you mentioned in your article of realizing that the big stones have to go on the bottom first. At the same time, undoing the mental message from my husband that it is okay to make recovery a priority. Tough but possible. I wanted to leave this message for others who may be struggling to see that recovery really does have to come first. It's okay if it doesn't happen today. For long term recovery, it does have to happen eventually.

December, 28 2014 at 1:19 pm

I had never realized until reading this that my recovery was on the back burner. I thought that the past 4 months I had been working towards recovery (and I have made progress), however, now I am realizing that all I have been doing was considering recovery, and there is a very big difference.
You are absolutely correct when you say that eating disorders effect EVERY single area in your life, whether we realize it or not.
As of now, my eating disorder recovery is not my biggest priority. My priorities in order would be; family, working out, my teaching career, friends, education and then recovery. I focus on recovery when it is convenient and when I have time to do so, which I will admit is not very often.
What I am going to change is moving recovery to the top of my priority list. Everything else can wait and will fall into place as I recover. So instead of trying to find a new job, spending my life at the gym and traveling (which is a trigger), I really need to start recovering. I am not entirely sure how to recover yet, but thank you for helping me realize that I need to make my recovery a high priority.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jessica Hudgens
January, 14 2015 at 9:08 am

Kait -
I'm so glad this post was able to make you think about where you are in your recovery and change process. Even considering it is a big deal and doing it occasionally "when convenient" has already yielded you results - can you imagine how much progress you would make if you DID put your recovery first? I am so excited for you!
Let me know if you ever want to chat and brainstorm ways we can get you to really "start" recovering. :)

January, 26 2015 at 2:13 am

This post really spoke to me so I thank you for publishing it! After reading it I too, realize I've been only going through the motions- therapy,, support groups, etc. when truthfully in the back of my mind I'm telling myself I don't really have a problem because if I had a problem then it would look like "xyz" and just generally making up rationalizations and excuses. I've definitely made some headway, I won't discount that, but actually moving towards recovering for ME and not for my husband/kids/therapist etc. is a whole other issue I know I need to embrace. I have no idea what it means to put recovery truthfully first but Id like to hear more about your ideas!

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