Finding the Gray: When Intuitive Eating and Eating Disorder Recovery Aren’t So Black & White
Written by Ashley Seruya, B.A.
There’s a common refrain in intuitive eating and eating disorder recovery work: when am I going to be done?
There’s this enduring idea that there’s an end point; an event or moment that you can look at and say, “Hey, here’s where it all was fixed!” But recovery and intuitive eating work isn’t like that. In fact, I would say life isn’t like that. Not one bit.
Instead, recovery and intuitive eating are non-linear processes. Your journey throughout will have you bouncing up and down on the very long and complicated spectrum of eating behaviors. You will go back and forth, stress and life events and any other number of things influencing how you’re experiencing the process.
And none of it is wrong. You are not doing anything wrong.
This is a process of gray. Not sick to healthy; not emotional eating to hunger and fullness; not bad to good.
There’s another way in which this dichotomous thinking gets us into trouble in this process. When we are recovering from disordered eating or chronic dieting, it’s easy to think that we want to have a positive relationship with food and our body. It makes sense. We are grappling with such a negative experience, that all we want is the opposite. Of course that’s what we want.
But is that really what we need? Is going to the other side of the spectrum actually helpful? Or is it just replicating the issue, the other side of the same coin?
Is neutrality really what we should be striving for instead?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for body love if you’re in a place where you can find it. And I’m all for being a foodie and rediscovering a love of the culinary arts. I think that finding that love and passion and exuberance is a part of the process. But at the end of the day, what I really want, is just for food and my body not to matter so much. I want to find that gray; I want to find that neutrality.