Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.

By Quinn Nystrom

What does freedom from an eating disorder look like for me? It means utilizing the tools I learned and learning from treatment and therapy. I don’t ever think of myself as “recovered” because the truth is that I have triggers that still very much come up for me. I wake up each day with the mindset of being committed to recovery and making the next best decision for myself.

This is what freedom from an eating disorder looks like for me now:

1. I don’t let a scale determine my worth or how I feel that day. I stopped weighing myself!

2. I can enjoy going out to a restaurant of someone else’s choosing with friends or family.

3. I can attend a holiday party and make a meal from whatever they serve.

4. Not trying on dozens and dozens of outfits every day. I can make a quick decision in the morning and keep that outfit on for the day.

5. No longer allowing my physical appearance (or how I perceive it) to dictate what I will or won’t go for professionally. If I set my mind to something, I go after that.

6. When I go out with a friend, I don’t comment about what I chose for dinner or how “stuffed” I am. No food talk!

7. My mind is free from the constant anxiety of being utterly uncomfortable in my skin.

8. I now join in for family photos instead of hiding behind the camera!

9. Free from the rigid food rules I had set for myself!

10. I don’t view physical exercise as a punishment or a necessity. I do activities to move my body that I enjoy and make me feel empowered!

It took 12 years of struggling with an eating disorder before I could get a diagnosis and professional treatment.

2 Residential stays. 3 Inpatient stays—dozens of times in a Partial Hospitalization or Intensive Outpatient program across four states.

Twenty-five years of attending therapy.

Freedom from my eating disorder didn’t happen overnight. Identifying the negative patterns and underlying core issues took many years of hard work. It is also something that I still talk about today with my therapist. Living with bulimia was living in my own prison that I created. My whole life and identity were wrapped up in it. After 25 years, I have a much fuller life because I don’t just judge a day if it’s good or bad by how I think I look physically or how others perceive me. I now determine it by being kind to others, giving back, spending quality time with friends and family, doing adventurous things, accomplishing goals, and learning new things in my travels. Freedom from an eating disorder isn’t easy, but I’m here to tell you it’s possible, and there’s a beautiful life out there waiting for you to step into.