All of the quotes in this article were compiled from real women with real experiences in recovery. Thank you to all of the strong women fighting everyday.

One of the most important parts of eating disorder recovery is a strong support system, in order to recover, we need the love and support from those around us to help us on the days that seem too hard and unmanageable. But when you don’t have an eating disorder, it can oftentimes be difficult to understand what to say and how to say it. And here’s what we want you to know.

1. Being physically recovered doesn’t mean we’re mentally recovered

Eating disorders are just as, if not more, mentally deteriorating as they are physically. Physical recovery comes much quicker than mental recovery. Mental recovery is changing your entire mindset about nutrition, body image, and yourself and can take much longer

2. ED dominates their entire lives

It’s more than just meal time freakouts and anxiety when we step on the scale — it’s all day, everyday. There’s not a moment in the day that ED isn’t screaming at us and telling us we’re not good enough. It’s constant, it’s the first thing we think about in the morning and the last thing we think about at night

3. Saying anything about appearance won’t help

Even if you tell us we’re beautiful twenty time a day — we won’t believe it. Your compliments about our appearance won’t change our insecurities or help our disordered thoughts. Try complimenting us on who we are instead (kind, funny, smart…)

4. Recovery is literally the hardest thing they will ever do.

Recovery is every minute of every day. There’s never a point in the day that we aren’t making the choice to recover. It’s mental torture, facing your biggest fear and extreme physical pain associated with refeeding all thrown at you. It’s not easy, so be understanding.

“Being physically recovered from my ED didn’t mean I was “recovered”. Eating

disorder aren’t just about physical health, but about mental and emotional health.

Recovering from an eating disorder takes time and can’t happen rapidly like some


“No matter how much you compliment someone with an ED, they will not view

themselves differently, their (our) view of self is distorted.”

​Recovering from an eating disorder is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever had to

do. Harder than undergrad, harder than my professional internship working with

hospitalized kids, harder than financial stressors”

5. It’s not about the food. It’s not about how we look. It’s about control.

Eating disorders aren’t about food, they’re not about vanity, and they’re not about

attention. They’re about being able to be in control of something when we feel too

confused and out of control in the world.


“It’s often about everything else in life spinning out of control and us wanting to

control at least something; one thing; even a small thing. It is about control

stressors, difficulty with umanageable circumstances”


6. We do appreciate and love you.

We appreciate and love you more than you could know. And sometimes, it’s going to feel

like we dont. Recovery’s hard! It’s hard for us, and it’s hard for everyone who loves us!

But just remember, even on the bad days, we know how hard you’re trying and we’re so

grateful for your support.

If you or a loved one needs help with eating disorder recovery, make an appointment with one of our dietitians by clicking here or calling 301-474-2499.