Using Intuitive Eating to Recover from an Eating Disorder: Nina’s Story

By Katie, 5:17 am

Today I’m handing the reins over to Nina, who chronicles her story of struggling with various eating disorders and eventually finding relief in part through using intuitive eating. Nina blogs regularly at http://helpforeatingdisorder.com/, where she shares more information about her experience with intuitve eating. Enjoy!

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Eating disorders ruled my life for almost a decade. I was obsessed with, and tried, every possible diet, weight loss plan, detox, cleanse and restrictive eating plan. All that I got was an even greater obsession with food and weight.

My eating disorder took various shapes and forms – starting off with anorexia and then progressing to binge eating, compulsive overeating, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, bulimia and binge eating. I have been through it all! I was given a taste of all the different flavors of an eating disorder.

I sought help through a number of different paths and sources. I tried eating disorder counselors, support groups, spiritual healing and I was even hospitalized twice in order to stop the extreme acting out.

What I didn’t realize was that it was my dieting and restrictive eating that was fuelling the eating disorder and until I stopped that, nothing would change. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

I would try all the different treatment programs but my behavior and attitude remained the same – I would diet, restrict and eventually binge. I just could not connect the dieting to the eating disorder. I thought you HAD to be on a diet and anything else was absurd and ineffective.

I never truly believed that I would find a lasting eating disorder recovery solution. I thought that I would always in some way or another live with the mental obsession, the preoccupation with food and weight, and at best have periods of “abstinence” from the extreme manifestation of the eating disorder.

Things got so bad at some point that I guess I reached that real rock bottom place. You now the place – where you cannot live another day the way that you have been living. Things had to change because I had no life, no interest and no spirit left.

I did not know exactly what intuitive eating was at the time, but I just had the desire to be a “normal eater.” You know the ones? They eat what they want, they stop when they are full, they do not have any off limits food and they do not suffer with guilt or obsession over what they ate.

This was my goal and after reaching that rock bottom place where I absolutely had no life or interest other than food and weight loss, I became determined to become an intuitive eater (or a normal eater as I knew it back then).

The process takes time, patience with yourself and practice. We didn’t become disordered eaters overnight, so the recovery will take some time. However, the more you let go of diet rules, plans and restriction, the more you focus on ACTING like an intuitive eater, the faster you will get results.

The challenges that I faced were initially not knowing what to eat and a major fear of weight gain. But slowly I added food that I liked; I tested things out and observed the results. Even thought I was terrified at times that I would not be able to stop eating, the results were that the more I focused on being a normal eater, letting go of the scales, rules, restriction, the more freedom I experienced and the lesser the obsession became.

I have been an intuitive eater for over 4 years now and have completely recovered from all eating disorders. I believe that this is truly possible for anyone. I encourage you to give it a try… otherwise call Sublime Wellness Center today.

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Thanks for sharing with us, Nina! Be sure to check out her blog for more information!

40 Responses to “Using Intuitive Eating to Recover from an Eating Disorder: Nina’s Story”

  1. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Nina! I’m just starting to learn about intuitive eating. I really like how you said that the recovery process takes time, we didn’t get in this situation overnight. I definitely need to remember that!!

    • Nina says:

      Hi Karen,

      That is exactly right! We have been messing with our bodies and metabolism for so long, as well as having deeply entrenched diet and good vs bad food ideas that take time to heal and reverse.
      This process definitely takes time and determination but is ABSOLUTELY possible for anyone. I suffered with this for a decade and am now completely free of the old ideas and behaviors.

      Take your time and trust your body!

      Nina

  2. Kelly says:

    Thanks Nina, what an inspiring story!

    • nina says:

      Thanks Kelly it was a pleasure to share my experience and give others hope that it can work
      Nina

  3. Thanks so much for sharing, Nina! As someone who is still struggling daily with intuitive eating and wanting to go on a diet, you’re an inspiration!

    • nina says:

      Hi Stacie,

      I certainly know where you are at. The drive and desire to diet is so powerful. The fear of legging go can be overwhelming. Sometimes we just need to be ready until we are at a rock bottom place and willing to do anything.

      Nina

  4. What an inspiring story, so glad you have found peace.

    • nina says:

      Thank you Katie! It was a long battle but well worth it for the freedom that I have now.
      Nina

  5. Nicole, RD says:

    That breaks my heart to read. You are so beautiful…I’m glad your ED is a part of your past and your future will be so much happier and healthier :) Thanks for sharing :)

    • Nina says:

      Thanks Nicole!

      It is such a relief to have found a permanent cure that is simple and natural.
      It has been a life changing experience that has actually given me my life back and built up my self esteem and the knowledge that ANYTHING is possible!

      Nina

  6. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish this topic was discussed more in the fitblog community. I have my own issues that I’ve dealt with over the years. Suffering from bingeing/anorexia/bulimia/whatever the disorder can be alienating and hard to discuss.

    • Nina says:

      Hi Lisa,

      I totally understand. It is much more acceptable to be be labeled a “health food addict” or “fitness freak” rather than someone who is completely obsessed with food, weight, dieting and is often miserable about it!

      It is definitely an isolating experience and we are often made to feel that we are doing something wrong and have no willpower, when in fact it is the 98% DIET FAILURE rate that is the problem.

      Feel free to check out my site or drop me a line anytime

      Nina

  7. She Recovers says:

    I love Nina’s story. It’s so inspirational but also very realistic. As a new intuitive eater, I want to be careful not to expect too much from myself. I echo Karen above in liking the reminder that we didn’t become disordered eaters overnight. It will take time to undo my years of unhealthy behavior. However, by believing in myself and trusting that my body has all the answers, I can begin to move toward recovery.

    • Katie says:

      Yes, yes, and yes! You are definitely moving in the right direction!:)

    • nina says:

      That is absolutely right – we have been messing with out metabolism, minds and bodies for so long that it can take a while to reprogram old beliefs. However, from my experience the more you trust the process, the easier it is and the faster you get to see results.
      Nina

  8. I’m so glad you’ve written this, Nina, and that you’ve shared it here, Katie. I often talk with clients about intuitive eating and its benefits, but these discussions are mostly theoretical–what it is, how it works. You story is not only courageous and powerful, but it can serve as a resource for people who question whether dieting is the problem, and whether they could possibly learn to trust themselves around food. You make these dry ideas come to life. Thank you!

    • nina says:

      Hi Dana,

      Thank you!
      I know I would have been terrified of intuitive eating when I was in the thick of an eating disorder. The disordered mind just wont let such thoughts enter because it needs to keep tight control.
      I have a free ebook on my website that describes my intuitive eating journey if you wanted to share it with clients.
      Nina

  9. Congrats for being FREE from disordered eating! I think the key is to make a decision to stop the restricting and obsession. It’s tough, but it can be done. I’ve done it myself. It’s a fun life to live when you don’t think about food all of the time that is for sure!

    • Nina says:

      Hi Lindsey,
      You are right – the key is making that intitial decision to stop the restricting, dieting and obsession. If you have any doubts or some lingering ideas about finding another diet – the intuitive eating principles are much more difficult to implement.
      It takes courage and determination to completely allow yourself to merge into this process of thinking and behaving, and understanding that diets can no longer be part of your psyche. It is definitely achievable!

      And yes the freedom that you get cannot be beaten!
      Congratulations on your success!

      Nina

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Nina! It’s really inspiring to see how you just let go and decide to be kind to yourself and eventually became an intuitive eater. Congrats!

  11. Nina says:

    Thanks Steph!
    It is probably the best thing I have ever done for myself. The mental obsession and constant failure left me with no life.
    I am so grateful to be experiencing this freedom and would love to do all that I can to help others.

    Thanks!
    Nina

  12. [...] Health for the Whole Self, Using Intuitive Eating to Recover from an Eating Disorder: Nina’s Story [...]

  13. Jenn says:

    I love this!! It’s EXACTLY what I am working on with my dietitian now. I’m in recovery from an eating disorder, and I am so so scared to let go because I’m scared I won’t stop. I know I just have to jump in and trust, but how did you get your mind to stop being so obsessed with the plans and numbers? And how do you know if you’re truly hungry, or maybe you just think you should eat?

    • Katie says:

      Jenn, I’m not sure how Nina would respond, but I would say that in my case, it just took a lot of practice. I had become so out of touch with my body’s signals that it took a long time to feel confident in them again. And in terms of being scared of not stopping, I worked up to intuitive eating with baby steps, and that made a big difference. :)

    • nina says:

      Hi Jen,
      Congratulations on your journey into intuitive eating!
      I completely understand the fears and I had many of the same ones. But like Katie says, it takes practice. There is no way of just thinking this problem through, we practice eating, raking baby steps, adding food that we like and it is great that you are working with a specialist.
      The more we legalize food, the less power they have over us. This may not appear to happen immediately, but trust the process, trust your body and always keep the vision in your mind of how amazing the freedom is when you are not constantly obsessing! I always found that the more I ate what I actually liked, the less I obsessed about food. However, if I still had ANY diet thoughts in the back of my mind, it slowed the process because I was not completely letting go.
      Nina

  14. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Nina! In recovery from anorexia, I developed binge eating which I’m still battling this day. I’m working on becoming an intuitive eater and reading your story has greatly helped me believe that I can succeed!!

    • nina says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I went down the same road and ended up a chronic binge eater. No other type of recovery worked as well s this did, because not only did it restore my body, but my mind as well. I live with no obsession about food and weight whatsoever and the binge eating really does stop once we get rid of the diet mentality.

      I wish you all the best!
      You CAN succeed and it will feel like the greatest achievement in your life. After I achieved this I knew that ANYTHING in life was possible.

      Nina

  15. Nina, thank you for sharing your story!!! :) I was all caught up with orthrexia. I strive to eat intuitively now. :)

    • nina says:

      Yes I can completely relate to orthorexia! I went for long periods of only eating “clean” and weighed and measured food. It was just an eating disorder coming in the back door and I had no freedom or peace.
      Congratulations on starting to eat intuitively!

      Nina

  16. Laura says:

    Nina, I am so happy to read your story. It gives me hope that one day I, too, will be able to gauge whether a day was “good” or “bad” based on feelings and events UNrelated to food.

    • nina says:

      Hi Laura,

      I know what you mean. We give food, weight and our eating so much power. The best thing that you can get from the intuitive eating experience is the freedom from this. I no longer classify and food as good or bad and would not even follow the advice of “experts” – because it goes against what my body is telling me.
      You can recover completely! Have faith in yourself and the remarkable power of your body.
      Nina

  17. Sharmax says:

    I do really well, until I get weighed at the Dr’s office and it starts me obsessing about my weight, I have settled at a higher weight after years of struggles, anorexia, binge eating, emotional eating, and trying how to learn to eat intuitively. I have given up having a scale and weighing myself. Do people usually gain weight and how do you deal with being at a higher weight, that puts you in the overweight catagory??

    • Katie says:

      Hi there. I’m not sure how Nina would respond, but I wanted to pipe in and say that I think most people do gain some weight when they first begin eating intuitively. I think that’s normal when you first take your body away from the starve-binge cycle. But eventually it evens out, you find your balance, and your body adjusts to the weight where it is most comfortable. In my personal situation, my body seemed to balance out after a few months of truly eating intuitively. I hope that’s helpful! Thanks for stopping by! :)

    • nina says:

      Hi Sharmax,

      I think the most important thing to focus on is getting in tune with your body and letting go of the rest. I really had to say to myself “it is no longer up to me how much I weigh”. That takes complete trust and a desperate desire to be off the diet wagon and binge-starve cycle.
      In my case I actually did lose weight in the first few months and have stayed at pretty much the same weight ever since. It depends on your metabolism, genes and your eating disorder behavior. I was binge eating like a maniac and completely swollen, so starting intuitive eating actually helped to bring my weight down. However, the less you focus on the weight loss, the greater the benefits will be. Sometimes people view intuitive eating as a type of weight loss program – and it is absolutely the opposite. The more you take the focus off the weight, the more natural your results will be.
      No matter what weight you end up at – you still get all of the benefits of intuitive eating: freedom from obsession, self acceptance, being off the binge-purge cycle and being able to fill your life with things that you love and enjoy rather than constant calorie counting, searching for new diets and mental preoccupation with food and weight.

      Nina

      • Sharmax says:

        Thank you for your reply and it was very helpful, how do you handle other people and /or Dr’s who suggest you might lose some weight or bring up BMI?

        • Katie says:

          That’s always been a challenge for me personally, but a little while ago I had a breakthrough. My doctor told me I had high cholesterol, and she was about to launch into a diatribe about changing my diet and losing weight when I said, “Could that be because I struggle with disordered eating, specifically compulsive overeating?” Bringing up the eating disorder openly and honestly immediately stopped her from saying anything about dieting or my weight. Instead, we talked about how I was working on getting in touch with my body, and she believed my cholesterol would balance out once I got that under control. Low and behold, it did!

          All of that is to say, I am fortunate to have a great doctor who is sensitive to my food/weight struggles. We all deserve a doctor like that.

          • Sharmax says:

            Thank you, I agree in being open with your Dr and there are many reasons for high cholesterol and it is not just about weight!

          • nina says:

            Katie,

            That is so great and inspiring. It is also part of being intuitive – in being able to share openly and honestly what is going on with your body and having respect for your body and not just relying on the advice of “professionals”

            Good for you!!

            Nina

  18. Alexis says:

    One thing I did read and discussed with others — that after the experimenting with foods and hunger, emotional eating and mouth satisfaction, what our body responds best to, giving ourselves permission to eat whatever we want also means being able to steer ourselves in the direction we want to be in concerning food. If I can eat taco bell anytime I want, I can choose to not eat it at all. It won’t be calling to me if I have laid a solid IE foundation and regained control. I can create the picture of my own recovery. I’ve been around the web and realized that is a concept that is misunderstood or overlooked.

    • nina says:

      Hi Alexis,

      That is exactly right. Once these foods are “legalized” you are able to make decisions based on what you actually want to eat

      Nina

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