Ed Recovery Defined- How Will I Know When I Am Finally There?

How is ED recovery defined and how will I know when I am recovered? After struggling with eating disorders for decades, I have asked myself these questions over and over again. They have rolled around inside of my head until my temples ache with confusion.  

Is it even possible to become fully recovered? Others claim to have reached this goal. Is it possible for ME to reach this goal? How will I know if I am recovered? Am I recovered

I know I am in recovery– and this is the longest I have been in recovery since before my eating disorder developed over 30 years ago. And that is something I am humbled and thrilled by.  And honestly sometimes in shock. But how will I know when I am finally recovered?

This is what I imagine being RECOVERED will look like for me:


  • diet or restrict, binge, or purge; even when I am anxious, sad, angry, or experiencing any other uncomfortable feelings
  • exercise when I am in pain, I am sick, or the weather makes it unsafe 
  • secretly compare myself to every other female as soon as I enter a room, ranking myself to see who is thinner or larger than I am
  • silently calculate calories I have eaten or am considering eating 
  • mentally calculate calories others are eating around me 
  • say, “No thank you,” as a knee jerk reaction anytime I am offered food

Thoughts of food, calories, and exercise will not rule my mind.


  • eat in public if I am hungry, regardless of who is around me
  • eat with others, if I am hungry, even if no one else is eating at the time
  • drink calories without panicking


  • obsess over what I already ate, am going to eat, and want to eat
  • judge my worth based on my size
  • classify my day as “good” or “bad” based on what I ate or did not eat
  • avoid social situations simply because people will be eating there
  • feel panic before eating at a restaurant or eating foods someone else has prepared
  • lose hours changing outfits because I do not like the way I look in any of them
  • not pinch, push, or poke my body while insulting it in my head
  • spend time scrutinizing over every real or imagined flaw I see in the mirror
  • feel tempted to lose weight as a way of solving any situation or problem


  • judge myself based on my body size
  • judge others based on their body size
  • attempt to manipulate the natural size of my body
  • attempt to feel better by controlling what I eat or how I look
  • feel tempted to engage in eating disorder behaviors whenever I am upset

When I am fully recovered, I will not believe that shrinking my body will solve any problems.


  • resiliently overcome challenges without losing or gaining a significant amount of weight, without stopping eating, and without binging or purging
  • practice self compassion when I am upset with myself
  • be flexible with my eating and exercise
  • appreciate my body for its resilience and power
  • accept my perceived imperfections 
  • move through this world in a body that I appreciate and accept 
  • let go of trying to control or change my body size
  • participate in celebrations that are centered around food
  • accept social invitations if I want to go (even if there is food involved)
  • feel connected to myself, to the present, and to my family and friends
  • eat for fuel at times, for pleasure at times, and to celebrate at times


  • attempt to express feelings through my body or what I eat (or don’t eat)
  • immediately judge my appearance when I see a photo of myself; I will focus instead on how I felt in the moment
  • engage in negative self talk immediately when I see my own reflection


  • be able to tell when I am hungry and when I am full
  • make it a priority to have access to food that I enjoy 
  • move my body in ways that feels good
  • rest my body when it is in pain or I am ill
  • listen to my body and eat what I crave, when I crave it
  • cope with grief and loss without stopping eating or without purging
  • navigate change without stopping eating or without purging

When I am recovered I will accept my body as it is.

This list is not complete, nor is it exactly what every warrior’s “recovered” will look like. It is my own definition. I encourage you to consider what recovered will look like for you.

There is power and magic in imagining what it will be like when we have achieved our goals.

We would love to hear from you below in the comments. How will you know (or how DO you know) when you are fully recovered?

To read more from Lisette and learn about opportunities to work with her in private coaching please visit her website here, or follow her on instagram here.

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  1. says: Shannon Black

    This is an EXCELLENT list of what being recovered can look like!!!! And all of the above mentioned items that you listed are all fully possible!!!! Thank you for this wonderful article that has filled me full of hope of what life will eventually look like for me someday!!!!

  2. says: Anna Mistretta

    Lisette, another BEAUTIFUL article that truly touches my soul. Thank you for sharing your words, wisdom, and recovery.

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