You don’t need your eating disorder.

In the recovery process I came across the term “alexithymia,” aka the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.  Many with eating disorders can have a bit of alexithymia, which makes it hard to put words to feelings.

So for me, instead of being rationale and able to process through how I was feeling….I would just know there’s an icky feeling inside of me that feels bad. Maybe the icky feeling came from the discomfort of being in a body x size or the discomfort of a social situation.  Since I couldn’t put those feelings into words, other than my brain screaming EWW EWW EWW THIS FEELS AWFUL MAKE IT STOP…I couldn’t sit with that feeling and would go to my ED behaviors for comfort because I knew that’d make me feel better in the short-term. 

Taking the time to care for your emotional health with a journal, therapist and loved ones by beginning to connect words to your feelings can be a slow, challenging process…but it’s not as difficult as continuing to live with the misery of an eating disorder. 

Now I know there are healthier ways to express my pain and emotions than having an eating disorder. I now know I can do hard things. I know I can tolerate discomfort. I can let people know if I’m in pain without harming myself with an eating disorder.

Search “#immawatercolortherapy” on instagram for all art from this series.


  1. I can totally relate to this. I also notice that I can often resort back to those ED behaviors and then realize at a later time that there was something that happened to initiate uncomfortable feelings, even if I didn’t notice it at the time. I think it’s also powerful to examine “the story we are telling ourselves.” Sometimes when I find a mirror or a social situation triggering, I actually have to stop and take time to hear the thoughts that are occurring and what I am telling myself about myself, my body, etc. There are a lot of false narratives that can exist in our heads without examining them and realizing they are false!

  2. Cool to know that there’s an actual word for this! I know I experienced this an awful lot when I was younger and really dealing with the worst of my ED – I’d just feel really uncomfortable and yucky but not be able to identify the cause or even really the feeling. Still happens sometimes, but I’ve found as I get further into recovery I’m getting better at feeling real emotions and stuff.

  3. Yes! I heard you say something similar on a podcast and it really resonated. Always love your watercolors :)

  4. I can relate to this in terms of my anxiety and disordered eating. Once I began shedding my disordered behaviors around food, I think my anxiety was then allowed to skyrocket because it had to be channelled elsewhere. I had been concealing this problem with control around food, so naturally it surfaced. Thankfully, I sought professional help with a therapist, and I genuinely have witnessed improvements in my ability to handle my fears and anxiety while continuing to work towards Intuitive Eating. I still remember it being July 2016 when I finally quit weighing my food, had discovered your blog, and I realized I was on an incredible journey to improve my overall well-being. It felt amazing, and you were a huge inspiration!

  5. So much truth in this (and all of your watercolor art!) I know you were selling them individually for a while but I was wondering if you would ever consider selling them in a book format. It would be wonderful coffee table kind of book and would be very helpful to have around especially when any diet/fatphobic talk starts up.

    And just to let you know, I have seen a WeightWatchers FreeStyle advertisement pop up on your blog the last few times I’ve visited. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about it but I know for sure that it doesn’t line up with your content, haha.

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for letting me know about the ad. I’ve talked to my ad company and they’ve blocked any ads from the following categories:

      Nutrition & Dieting
      Fitness Classes
      Gyms and Gym Memberships
      Personal Training

      But, unfortunately, ad blocking is never 100% effective as advertisers can sometimes mislabel the ads and they can sneak through. Booo.

      Love the book idea! That’ll happen sometime this year once baby girl is bit older and I can think lol

  6. As I call him “ED” started out as a body image then disordered image but it has changed and I’m confused. After 16yrs and many inpatient/outpatient treatments, trauma’s worked on, etc I now don’t like what I see in the mirror. Don’t get me wrong, i still have my days of distortion and fear of gaining but for the most part i don’t like hat i see in the mirror . I look sick and am embarrassed to be seen outside. I won’t go clothes shopping because I’m afraid of the size that will actually fit me, etc.. Why is ED still hanging out with me?? I am confused.. I have asked this question to the many professionals I have had in my journey but never really get an answer I understand. I am confused!?!?!

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