Being Afraid in Eating Disorder Recovery: Face Down the Fear

July 15, 2020 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

It's normal to feel afraid in eating disorder recovery. After all, it's scary to arrive at a crossroads between the familiar identity of an eating disorder and the unknown quantity of healing. You have a choice to either remain in the destructive, yet comfortable, patterns of your illness or to embark on a new path that is rife with challenges but leads to freedom on the other side. This decision is yours alone to make, but if you choose to brave that road to health and wholeness, the question then becomes: How do you face down fears in eating disorder recovery?

Being Afraid in Eating Disorder Recovery Can Be Motivating 

Being afraid in eating disorder recovery is natural and can be motivating. While human nature is to fear uncertainty, if you embrace and confront this fear, instead of withdrawing from it, you can use it as motivation to heal. But first, you need to recognize and name what these fears even are to begin with.

For example, are you afraid of eating specific foods or a certain number of calories? Do you feel anxious whenever you miss a workout and speculate if your clothes feel tighter? Are you unable to imagine what the future could be like or who you might become without this illness? Do you hesitate to unearth the root cause of your eating disorder and relive emotions or traumas that come along with it?

Once you understand what is behind the sense of alarm, it's easier to resist avoidance and summon the motivation to face down your fears.       

3 Steps to Confront Being Afraid in Eating Disorder Recovery

Fear is a normal emotion, but how you choose to harness it can either accelerate you forward in eating disorder recovery or stand as a deterring obstacle in your path to freedom. So if your ultimate objective is to experience what a healthy life has to offer, here are three straightforward, actionable steps to face down fears in eating disorder recovery. These might not come easily, but with dedication and courage, you can make the difficult but rewarding and necessary strides.  

  1. List what you are afraid of as specifically and honestly as possible. Writing down exactly what these fears are can help you to visualize and contextualize them, so they will not feel as overwhelming or insurmountable. It also might be useful to rank each of your fears in order of least to most panic-inducing. From there, you can create a strategy to address them one at a time.  
  2. Reach out to your support network for motivation and accountability. Overcoming some fears will require emotional support, so enlist a friend, relative, or counselor you feel safe with to be part of the process. For instance, if you are reintroducing a certain "fear food" into your diet, ask this person to eat with you as a source of encouragement, solidarity, and distraction from anxious thoughts.  
  3. Avoid unreasonable expectations and show yourself compassion. Establishing an arbitrary timeline for yourself to face down these fears is unrealistic, stressful, and counterproductive. Some fears can be pushed through quickly, but others need continual patience and perseverance. So move at your own pace and embrace self-compassion over rigid expectations. 

What are some fears you need to release and face down in eating disorder recovery? Do you have an action plan to start this process? If not, what is holding you back? Please share your thoughts about being afraid in eating disorder recovery in the comment section below. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2020, July 15). Being Afraid in Eating Disorder Recovery: Face Down the Fear, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 17 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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