Facing the Fear of the Unknown in Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman in eating disorder recovery

Any individual who has gone through the journey of recovering from an eating disorder can attest to the challenge of the undertaking. Because of the complexity of the disease, the process of recovering from an eating disorder involves many obstacles – some that are easily overtaken, others that are entirely more daunting to face. It is often said that the “only thing constant is change”, and this is perhaps most clearly seen in the eating disorder recovery process.

For many, facing unknown feats and challenges creates a deep sense of fear and trepidation.

Learning to Move Forward in Face of the Unknown

Experiencing fear is a normal part of the process and should not be seen as weakness or failure. Several individuals in recovery can attest to the fact that an eating disorder has served a purpose, whether as a maladaptive coping mechanism or means of dealing with an underlying issue.

After engaging in an eating disorder for any length of time, the thought of moving on in life without falling back on these behaviors can feel terrifying, exciting, and liberating. Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”


When applied to eating disorder recovery, this might mean taking the next step that is needed in your journey, even in face of the unknown or the fear you might be experiencing. For example, if following your meal plan terrifies you, but you know in doing so, you are adequately nourishing your body, it is important to follow through with the action step, even in face of this fear.

Other examples might involve the therapeutic aspect of your healing. It might be painful to revisit a a trauma for therapeutic purposes, something that rightfully evokes fear, but by taking this step and trusting your treatment team, you are doing what is necessary for healing.

Leaning on Your Eating Disorder Recovery Support Team

Through the highs and lows, valleys and peaks of your journey, it is important to know that you will not be alone. Leaning on the support of your treatment team, family, and friends who love and care for you will be instrumental to finding the courage you need to move forward with your journey. You are able to do the thing which you think you cannot do, but you do not need to face your fears alone.

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 9, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com