There a few “implied” assumptions I have regarding the basic building blocks to recovering from any addiction – of which I consider most eating disorders to be. Let me be candid and put out there one of the most important assumptions I have – recovering from an eating disorder begins with a total commitment to remain consistent with a recovery program* no matter what we are feeling or what “tricks” our minds play with us.

*From a “recovery perspective” a program of recovery refers to maintaining a prescribed food plan (typically in conjunction with a dietitian or health professional with experience in the field of eating disorders), adherence to a moderate (also prescribed) schedule of regular exercise, finding and maintaining a healthy balance between work, rest, and play, and cultivating a personal connection with a support group and “high power” of your own understanding. In our experience at Milestones, we refer to the basics of recovery as S.E.R.F. – spirituality, exercise, rest, and food plan.

Now for the tough part that separates a recovery program from a “diet program” disguised as “recovery”. Like most addictions and illnesses that center on our need for CONTROL, all eating disorders have in common the obsessive focus on the goal of total control of, in this case, weight or size. Letting go of control from a recovery perspective is not about “giving up” but rather following a prescribed program (as noted above) and letting go of the outcome – namely not making changes in response to feelings or perceived or real changes in our bodies. Allowing someone we trust, at least in the beginning, direct our food and exercise plans is a far more objective and ultimately successful means to find a solution to the mental tyranny that accompanies an eating disorder. To be sure, it takes a quantum leap of faith and courage to “turn over” control to someone other than yourself. In the end, sponsorship in an appropriate support group such as OA or EDA, making good use of a trusted and experienced professional, and cultivating a belief in your own understanding of a higher power will put you on the path to reclaiming your life.

Marty Lerner, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Milestones Eating Disorders Program

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Lerner is the executive director of the Milestones in Recovery Eating Disorders Program located in Cooper City, Florida. Dr. Lerner is a licensed and board certified clinical psychologist who has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders since 1980. He is the author of several publications related to eating disorders appearing in the professional literature as well as numerous magazines and newspapers. A member of both the professional and recovery community here in South Florida, Dr. Lerner makes his home in Davie with his wife Michele and daughters, Janelle and Danielle.