Today marks the five-year anniversary since I began seeing my dietitian Betsy. It feels a bit surreal that it’s already been that long—and even more surreal when I reflect on how much I’ve grown in my recovery and my life since our first session. When I met Betsy, I was two days out of an Intensive Outpatient Program and two months out of residential care. My anorexia was still at large, dictating many of my decisions and driving many of my thoughts. I genuinely wanted to get better but when that voice was so loud and present, better sometimes didn’t seem worth the bother.
And that’s where Betsy came in. She was my voice of reason with her extensive knowledge of nutrition and eating disorders and the fact-checker for my irrational thoughts. She struck a fine balance between supporting me and challenging me. She celebrated my successes and helped me work through my failures. She put her foot down to disorder-driven suggestions again and again and ultimately taught me how to do the same.
My first few years with Betsy were very up and down. I was convinced I knew what was best for myself and didn’t take to most of her recommendations, no matter how sensible they were. I didn’t want to gain five more pounds—even if it would help with my low energy and mood. I didn’t want to eat more fats or try new foods—even if both were beneficial to my long-term recovery. There were many sessions when we simply didn’t see eye-to-eye, and I’d leave feeling frustrated with Betsy for not listening to me and frustrated with myself for my inability to listen to her.
But progress takes time and patience, and that was the case for Betsy and me. The more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and challenged my disorder, the more confident I became in my ability to feed myself and the more motivated I felt to ditch anorexia once and for all. I was able to be more transparent during my sessions with Betsy and even started asking for help after years of trying to go at everything on my own. As our relationship developed and our trust in each other grew, she became more than just my dietician; she became my friend.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to a solid place in my recovery—and I owe a lot of my progress to Betsy. Following the publication of Changing Ways, I started seeking out speaking opportunities to share my story and invited Betsy to join me on several occasions. We’ve participated on panels and discussions together at a variety of venues including ESPN (as pictured above). That one was pretty epic!
I feel so fortunate to have a dietitian like Betsy in my life. Although I’m in a better place, I still see her once a month to make sure my weight is steady and to talk through any issues I might be having. I’m fully aware that no recovery journey is the same, however I’d strongly suggest that anyone struggling with an eating disorder see a dietician (not to be confused with nutritionists, who have different certifications). In addition to helping with weight restoration/maintenance and balanced eating, it’s an opportunity to confide in and work with a professional who truly understands what you’re up against and has the resources to help you overcome it.
Five years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined I’d ever be in a place where I’m mostly comfortable with my body, eating a wide variety of foods, and exercising in moderation. And yet, I am. What once seemed like a mere fantasy is a reality I live in every day, and I know I couldn’t have gotten here alone. The support and assistance I’ve received from Betsy and my wonderful therapist Annie have made the life I lead now not only possible but achievable and actual.