A Gentle Reminder: Healing Takes Time

Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant, Be Nourished founders
Hilary Kinavey and Dana Sturtevant, Be Nourished founders

By Dana Sturtevant and Hilary Kinavey

The more we learn about healing Binge Eating Disorder (BED), the more efficient and proficient the process will become. The more bias and stigma we address regarding BED, the more access we will have to healing.

No matter how many BED techniques and advances we make, healing takes time. In fact, in most cases, healing takes longer than most people ever thought.

BED and our conceptions about how to heal have come a long way from the deep entanglement that both the disorder and the treatment community have had with dieting culture and the dominant weight paradigm.

We now know, for instance, that behavioral weight loss is contraindicated; it actually exacerbates BED symptoms. Internally, for someone living with BED, the eating disorder has long asserted that weight loss is the thing that would help the most. Externally, the culture and some medical communities have colluded with this belief. Pursuing weight loss only reinforces body shame and the repetitive cycle of restricting and binging. Weight loss, even when accomplished, rarely signals the end of the struggle.

Healing BED involves many changes in perspective. It is about honoring and exploring the parts of self that were astute enough to develop this powerful coping mechanism. There is grief and fear involved. We try and try again to establish a loving presence for ourselves in the midst of struggle.

It’s not pretty, is it?

Sourcing and practicing self-compassion in the wake of long-term self-loathing is a feat. It’s certainly possible, but takes time. Unlearning a story that used to be about failure and lack, and exposing it for what it really has been—clever coping, survival, trying to make it work and ultimately being human—takes time and perseverance. Learning to hear and then trust the signals from a body that has been blamed repeatedly is true transformation.

A big part of healing—often misunderstood or unavailable in treatment—is how to help people live in a world with pervasive weight stigma. It is one thing to address negative body image, but it is essential to acknowledge the negative impact that living in a weight-biased culture has had on your willingness and ability to recover.

  • Have you been hustling to make up for the ways your body hasn’t been accepted and appropriately respected?
  • Have you experienced body shame by others and found yourself returning to the cycle of BED despite your best intentions?
  • Has the culture’s worship of the thin ideal dominated where and how you see you see beauty?
  • What does is truly mean to accept your body in a culture obsessed with changing it?

We pull on these threads and unravel the culture’s body stuff from your own to free your personal narrative and truth so you can find ways to live in your body on your terms.

We’d like to offer a few thoughts about staying on the path, despite the difficulty:

  • This isn’t your fault.
  • Healing takes time. As does trusting yourself again.
  • And kindness, that’s right KINDNESS, is the way out.

In 2006, Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC and Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD co-founded Be Nourished, a revolutionary business helping people heal body dissatisfaction and reclaim body trust. Hilary is a licensed professional counselor, a Certified Daring Way™ facilitator, and a transformational workshop leader. Dana is a registered dietitian, Motivational Interviewing trainer, and Kripalu Yoga teacher. After many years of deep listening, learning, and working at Be Nourished, Hilary and Dana co-created Body Trust® Wellness, a curriculum to encourage movement toward a compassionate model of radical self-care to heal body shame and patterns of chronic dieting and disordered eating. From 2007-2012, Hilary and Dana were adjunct instructors for the Eating Disorder Certificate Program at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Hilary and Dana are popular speakers on topics such as Health at Every Size®, intuitive eating, and body respect in health care communities, and regular contributors to the Huffington Post. For more information, visit benourished.org.