Posts in Eating Disorder Recovery
On the Road to Recovered: Jenks's Story

At the age of 17 at an all-male boarding school in Virginia, Jenks developed what would grow into a life-threatening eating disorder. It began with over-exercising, and quickly spiraled into bulimia, stimulant abuse, and drug and alcohol addiction.

Over the following ten years, the eating disorder ruled Jenks’s life and took uncountable things away from him. He hid his disorder for years, ashamed to tell friends and family that he was struggling with what was considered by many to be a “women’s disease.” It did not help that he did not know any males with eating issues to whom he could turn for advice.

Eventually, Jenks opened up to his family about his co-occurring issues with alcohol, drugs, and food. Hospitalizations and treatment programs helped him address his substance addiction first, but in the absence of those behaviors the eating disorder surged. He realized his pattern of trying to fill the void he felt inside with whatever was at hand: drugs, alcohol, relationships, exercise, or food.

Now 31 and in solid recovery, Jenks discusses the mixed feelings he had for years about letting go of his eating disorder: part of him wanted freedom, but another part was unwilling to give up the rituals. When Jenks began his journey towards recovery in earnest, at a treatment center called A New Journey in Santa Monica, California, it was not without stumbles.

From these experiences, Jenks realized his passion for service. He describes how his recovery is based in giving back to others who are themselves recovering from alcohol and drug addiction and eating disorders. One of Jenks’s primary missions is to encourage men to engage in open conversations about their struggles with food, which he believes is the essential first step to healing.

Originally from Rock Hill, South Carolina, Jenks currently resides in Venice, California where he works as a House Manager in a sober living house for men.

On the Road to Recovered: Kim's Perspective

Some of the most impactful people encountered in our recovery journeys are our treatment providers. They provide invaluable education, compassion, faith in our capacity to heal, accountability, and the best of them help us relearn how to trust.

I met Kim Wyman, the dietician at Monte Nido Vista, my first night of residential treatment. It was a Monday, the day every week when those furthest along in recovery prepare dinner for the whole house. To bless the beautiful meal they prepared and to cultivate a positive mindset before eating what for some of us was quite a challenge, Kim sang “Amazing Grace.” Her heavenly voice, glowing presence, and palpable joy for sharing this food in community brought me to tears.

Though we only worked together for ten weeks, Kim’s wisdom resounds in my head to this day, guiding me to stick to recovery’s course and reminding me of the healthy ways to meet my needs. In this podcast, she shares some of her perspectives on the process of healing from an eating disorder.

How we feed ourselves is an expression of how we feel about ourselves. Sometimes the most effective way to change how we feel about ourselves is to change how we feed ourselves. Kim considers Recovery to be a process of Recovering Self. She elucidates the different parts of Self that need to be actively, compassionately cared for, and explains how one must separate physical needs from emotional needs (to be seen, heard, witnessed, and acknowledged) in order to meet them all appropriately.

Activating sensory experience is one of Kim’s hallmark methods for recovery. She encourages people to get out of their heads and into their bodies by seeking pleasure, enjoying nature, and cultivating a loving relationship with food through the creative act of cooking, truly tasting food, and eating with others.

Kim explains the 3 tenets of recovery – never weigh yourself, journal, and reach out to others – and also offers advice about how to find the best dietician for you.

In addition to being a Registered Dietician, Kim holds a Master’s in Public Health. She has been working primarily with men and women who struggle with eating disorders since 1997.

On the Road to Recovered: Thomas's Story

Eating disorders are grossly under-recognized as a condition that affects not only women and girls but also men and boys. Because of this, when Thomas developed anorexia at age fourteen he was faced with the added challenges of combating stigma, finding treatment, and connecting with male peers undergoing similar experiences.

After a hospital stint that restored his physical health, Thomas was declared “cured,” but his emotional problems remained unaddressed. He relapsed several years later, and this time struggled primarily with orthorexia. Undeterred by the obstacles facing men with eating disorders, Thomas took his well-being into his own hands. He made it his mission to cultivate the community and comprehensive understanding of holistic wellness that enable someone to truly begin the journey of recovery.

Thomas recalls how small his world became when he was in his eating disorder, and how obsessed he became with controlling not just food but everything in his life. He shares the techniques and tools he adopted -- like writing -- that helped him detach from ED thoughts and behaviors.

As an eating disorder recovery activist, Thomas decries the insidious gender and age discrimination in eating disorder treatment and awareness models across cultures. Societally imposed appearance standards plague men too, and it is not unusual for them to remain undiagnosed despite showing hallmark symptoms of eating disorders. Thomas’s story calls upon us all to recognize that men get eating disorders too, and to help expand treatment options and shift the recovery culture to be more inclusive.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Thomas is a student in Tübingen, Germany, pursuing two degrees: one in Communications majoring in Media Production and the other in International Studies majoring in German. Learn more about Thomas’s work as a wellness coach, health activist, creative producer, and author of You Are Not Your Eating Disorder on his website: http://www.thomasgrainger.info/.