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What Demi Lovato Can Teach Us About Eating Disorder Recovery

13980446832_897c9b220b_zImage via Flickr/Focka

by Laura Cipullo, Whole Nutrition Services Team

Demi Lovato is one of those people who just seems to have it all — she’s successful (her latest album, Confident, went to #2 on the Billboard chart), rich, beautiful, talented and in love, so it’s hard to imagine her life could be anything less than wonderful. But she’s gone through her fair share of struggles — with bipolar disorder, childhood bullying, bulimia, cutting, compulsive overeating and eating restriction.

After her family staged an intervention, she went for treatment in late 2010, and even to this day still deals with her eating disorder, as do most men and women post-residential treatment.

“I don’t think I’m fixed,” she told MTV in her Stay Strong documentary special. “People think that you’re like a car in a body shop. You go in, they fix you, and you’re out. It takes constant fixing.”

There were challenges last year as well. “It’s been difficult,” she told Fitness Magazine in 2014. “I almost went back to rehab for my eating disorder last summer. I was obsessing over food and terrified of it at the same time. Wilmer [Valderrama, her boyfriend] noticed and called me out on it, which was a relief. I was done being afraid of food and so tired of overeating and not knowing why I did it. Now I’m on a structured meal plan. I eat four small meals and two snacks a day. It’s teaching me portion control.”

Demi is being honest about what it is like to be a man or women in 2015. She is raising awareness about eating disorders and speaking to the long process of recovery around food and body image. Using a meal structure is step one in changing your relationship to food and body. Thereafter, your RD gives you tools to transition to a more mindful eating approach and some individuals move to intuitive eating. Like I mention in my “What to Eat for Eating Disorders” web page, “Eating small balanced meals are essential to overcoming deprivation and preventing bingeing.”

In my practice, I specialize in teaching those who are in recovery and who have recovered from eating disorders. I focus on redefining your relationship with food, creating a meal structure that teaches balance and uses the ALL FOODS FIT approach. This is even the approach I use in my lifestyle book, the Body Clock Diet. Most importantly, I’m with you for every step. Feeding and eating is a challenge for most individuals, but it’s one all can face together. I can eat with you in restaurants or my office, and even go on food shopping trips. Meal support groups and cooking lessons are also available. I make sure you get as much support as you need to recover — and yes, I do believe total recovery is possible.

So if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, or if you’ve recovered but still need some help, I hope you’ll look to Demi, who also told Fitness that she ultimately “realized I’d rather be strong and happy than be what society thinks is thin and perfect and be miserable.” Get started with my comfort cards and mindful meal log right here.