Eating disorders (E.D.) lie.
An eating disorder isn’t very loyal and trustworthy, even though it pretends it’s your friend. They fuel your brain systematically with tons of false beliefs, lies, and contradictions. That’s right, eating disorders tell you lies.
Living with an eating disorder makes your mind a battlefield. Every single minute is filled with conflicts between your eating disorder voice and your healthy voice. Your healthy voice tries to argue your eating disorder voice, but you keep ending up losing that battle. Logically, you find yourself in a continuous state of distress.
I remember that regardless of this uncomfortable feeling, it wasn’t until I started recovery that I was able to identify the two voices. I learned how to distinguish between them and how to rely on my healthy voice more.
When I refer to the eating disorder voice, I am actually referring to the thoughts and beliefs that supported my eating disorder. It’s that E.D. voice that convinced me to engage in destructive behaviors. The eating disorder voice is always there and may even be present in the background, ready to destroy any progress made in recovery.
At some point in recovery, I began to discover patterns of recurring lies that were really sticking out. Here are the most commonly occurring lies your eating disorder tells you. Remember that your eating disorder voice makes you believe it is you that is thinking them!
Common Lies Your Eating Disorder Tells You
1. I am fat
Many people with an eating disorder think they are too heavy or fat. It’s actually something your eating disorder makes you think. It will make you believe that you should weigh X pounds to get rid of this belief and be happy.
The truth is, no matter how much weight you gain or lose, no matter what dress or waist size you wear, your eating disorder will never be satisfied.
It will keep telling you the same thing. Try to filter out a thought like this and compare it with your realistic healthy voice. For instance, I used to say “Am I really fat, or do you make me believe I am?” followed by “I am not fat at all. The scale is the living proof of that and I am working towards getting healthy.”
2. I am no one without my eating disorder
This is something I believed for a very long time. Again, the eating disorder voice speaking. When your self-esteem is at an all-time zero and you are filled with self-loathing, your eating disorder can seem to be filling up the emptiness inside you. At first, you feel like you have something to wake up for each day, but the longer he controls your mind, the more you end up losing yourself.
The longer you live with an eating disorder the more your true self intertwines with your eating disorder making you believe you can’t live without it. The opposite is true. You can only reconnect with your inner self and rebuild your identity when you let your E.D. go.
Moving away from the eating disorder voice can feel scary because it was used as a form of comfort and guidance for so long. Listening to your treatment and challenging the lies your eating disorder voice tells you will strengthen your healthy voice, thereby weakening the E.D. voice.
3. I don’t deserve treatment
This is something I held on to for a very long time and it took me years before I gave myself permission to recover. I convinced myself other people needed treatment more than I did. I told myself their condition was more serious than mine. This doesn’t make sense at all.
You deserve treatment and a happy life filled with joy and health just as much as anybody else.
4. I am unlovable and worthless
When I lived with an eating disorder this was my mantra, or maybe I should say my eating disorder voice’s mantra. At moments I wasn’t saying it out loud I was thinking it inside my mind. Whatever I did, it was never good enough, I would never be good enough and nobody would ever love me.
My eating disorder introduced himself as a lifesaver, but was nothing more than a lifetaker and so is yours. You are not worthless, nobody is!
We are all worthy of love, happiness, and living the life we want
You are not here to survive, but to thrive and live a great life!
5. I have to deserve and compensate food
Most people with an eating disorder can resonate with this, whether in active recovery or not. When you’re eating a meal or want to grab a snack, that voice urges you to either stop eating or compensate afterward, “just to be sure”. Just to be sure refers to the chance you’ll be confronted with a situation in which you have to eat something unexpected. In my case, just to be sure was just another way of saying “this is a new rule”, a new norm. Don’t fall into this trap! Instead of listening to your eating disorder voice, try to listen to and engage with your healthy voice.
No one has to deserve food, let alone compensate it.
Your body needs energy to live, to be healthy, and to make it possible for you to live the happy life you want.
6. I will eat normally once my weight is XX pounds
Doesn’t this sound ridiculous? Why on earth would your eating disorder ever be satisfied? He won’t, ever! Besides, it isn’t about the weight anyway, it’s about how you see yourself. This won’t change when you listen to the lies your eating disorder tells you. Remind yourself whenever this thought pops up in your mind.
7. I am not thin enough to have an eating disorder
Your weight doesn’t define the severity of your eating disorder.
Yes, some people clinically-diagnosed with anorexia are underweight, but, as this study found, in a lot of other cases with Anorexia Nervosa, weight is normal or higher than average. People with BED, Bulimia or OSFED (previously known as EDNOS) are usually at normal weight or overweight. Furthermore, weight is the least of the problem and only an ineffective coping mechanism for not being able to express emotions.
The real problem and severity of the illness lie in issues like self-loathing, a lack of self-worth and acceptance, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. The longer you live with your eating disorder and trust your eating disorder voice, the more brain and body damage will be caused by it and the harder it is to find the way back up. Never think your case isn’t serious enough! Your healthy voice is there and deserves to get stronger.
8. Treatment professionals (Doctors, Dietitians, Therapists) want to make me fat
Your treatment team isn’t your enemy, your eating disorder is.
Stop. Right there! No one wants to make you feel fat. They want to help you and guide you along your journey of recovery. Their only goal is to see you happy again, so don’t believe that eating disorder voice when he’s trying to convince you otherwise. Don’t buy into the lies your eating disorder tells you.
9. If I start eating I will lose control
“If I enjoy this meal today, I will end up losing control and never be able to stop eating.” The fear of losing control is very common for people having an eating disorder. I used to have it myself, but does it make sense? No, it doesn’t. You won’t lose control.
This fear is the direct result of malnutrition. When restricting, you become obsessed with food and it damages your brain and ability to think clearly. You will see that once you start eating according to a healthy and balanced diet (provided by a nutrition expert) your body will be able to stabilize at its optimal set point weight and the fear of losing control will disappear.
10. There are ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods
I remember I had a huge list of bad foods and a very small list of good foods.
There are no such things as good and bad foods.
This is just another lie your eating disorder makes you believe. When you eat according to a balanced meal plan you can eat anything you like, also pies and treats. That is part of life and it makes it fun!
11. My body weight defines me
Your weight doesn’t define you!
What does define you is your empathy, your kindness, your personality, and all the other beautiful things that lie inside of you. You won’t be happy when you are skinny or fit a certain standard of beauty society has created.
Happiness starts when you love yourself from the inside out. Once you are able to see that, your mind will open up and unleash your true life’s purpose and dreams.
12. If I don’t weigh myself every day my weight gets out of control
I used to believe this for a very long time. In fact, it was just a way of coping with my self-hate and low self-esteem. I thought I could handle everything as long as I controlled my weight. But the truth is the only one in control is your eating disorder.
First of all, your weight fluctuates within your setpoint range all the time. That is the natural beauty of your body. I used to think I could easily gain a few pounds in one day. This of course is not possible and you don’t need to weigh yourself every day. Trust your body’s wisdom! Focus on learning to love yourself and you’ll be able to see your real beauty!
Stop believing the lies your eating disorder tells you.
(Last Updated: September 1, 2022)