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Family-Owned, Patient-Focused: The Renfrew Center Difference


In Your Empowerment Era: 5 Ways to Choose Recovery

Written by: Erin Birely, LCPC
Alumni Services Coordinator, The Renfrew Center

This year the Renfrew Center’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme: In My Empowerment Era is focused on celebrating the recovery that each of our alumni and patients is continually working so hard to create and maintain.

An era is defined as “a long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic” and recovery is no exception to this. In our empowerment era we are choosing to work towards and in our recovery every day. We are working to make this a time not without struggle, but a time when even in the struggle we choose to perpetuate our era of recovery.

So, you may be wondering, “what does empowerment even mean and how do I use it?”. Empowerment is the idea of working to become stronger and more confident in controlling our life and claiming our rights. Often, the eating disorder has tricked us into giving up the control of our life and our rights to support the eating disorder’s continued goals. Now as we’re working on or in our recovery, we can feel empowered to pursue our own goals, dreams, and beliefs to live the life we’re hoping for.

Choosing Recovery: 5 Ways to Use Empowerment to Our Advantage

Choosing recovery is one of the ultimate acts of empowerment. So, let’s discuss the 5 ways we can each choose recovery.

  1. Listen to Our Body – Our bodies are amazing natural communicators. They do so much on their own and when they can’t do it alone, they know how to tell us what they need. By listening to our body and giving it the nourishment and comfort it needs at different times, we’re rejecting the idea that somehow the eating disorder or society knows better than our own body. Our bodies want to be at homeostasis and don’t want to be out of whack. Trusting and listening to our body are ways to empower it and to choose recovery.
  2. Understand Our Values – Values, or the beliefs and ideas that feel inherently “right” to us, can change over the time. You may have noticed that over time your eating disorder took over your values and placed its values above yours. Take the time to reflect and discuss what is important to you and what you feel like really matters. Knowing and understanding your values will help you make the choices that you feel best about. Even when we have to make a choice that evokes uncomfortable emotions, knowing that choice is rooted in our values makes the discomfort more tolerable.
  3. Reject Diet Culture – Diet culture permeates most aspects of our society, but its ideas and beliefs are fallacy, not fact. When we let go of the ideas of diet culture, we can begin to make the choices that honor our body and our values as opposed to trying to fit the ideals of diet culture.
  4. Be Kind to Ourselves – Being kind to ourselves can be one of the hardest things. We may have heard messages that being kind to ourselves will make us weak. In reality, being hard on ourselves can create the guilt and shame that keep us stuck. Accepting our mistakes and learning from them allows us to continue growing. Beating ourselves up for making a mistake ignores the reality that perfection doesn’t exist. We are all human and we all make mistakes.
  5. Reclaim Our Power – Acknowledging that you can take control back from the eating disorder can give you an empowering feeling. Have conversations with yourself and ask, “Is this the eating disorder’s decision or mine?” Remind yourself of your values and what matters most to you and make decisions that move you closer to those things. Remember that you didn’t choose to have an eating disorder, but you can make choices every day that align with your core values and with your recovery.


Eating disorders take away empowerment, but when you make the choice to no longer listen to it, you are taking back the control, honoring your core values and living the life you truly want. Remember that an era doesn’t have to end. It’s also never too late to end the eating disorder’s era and enter your empowerment era. In your empowerment era you have the power to stay in it by trusting your body, rejecting harmful ideals, practicing self-compassion, and embracing what truly matters to you. These choices can empower you to keep moving forward in both life and in recovery.

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