Does getting dressed for the day often leave you feeling anxious or nervous? Are you holding onto clothes that no longer suit your body comfortably “just in case”? Have you been taunting yourself or punishing yourself with the clothes that make you feel uncomfortable or distressed? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about clothing exchange in recovery with Jenni and Bryana.


  • Full recovery takes time
  • Getting dressed in the morning
  • How to assess clothes properly
  • Social media is not your friend

Full recovery takes time

It is important for people who have gone through the medical treatment process for their eating disorders that being discharged from the hospital or facility doesn’t mean that they are fully recovered. Being in the hospital or a step-down facility is so that your body can be medically stabilized, depending on the severity of the eating disorder and how much the body has physically suffered. Once the body is stabilized, that is one part of the recovery process. You still need to work on the mental and emotional piece, and that can take time, but it is possible to do.
If you’re discharged it doesn’t mean that you’re recovered. There’s still a lot more work to be done … [Still] having an out-patient team to work on the eating disorder [is helpful] … and body image is one of the things [to be addressed]. (Dr. Castagnini)

Getting dressed in the morning

Working on rewiring and changing your mindset and beliefs takes time, and it might be one of the aspects of recovery that takes the longest, so be patient and gentle with yourself through the process. You will start to learn how to dress and care for your body in a different way than how you used to. There’s an identity shift where you now need to change the way you relate to and view yourself.
After discharging, it was really hard to learn how to dress our bodies … What makes us feel good in our bodies? What’s our style? Just in general, what feels good? That was another added piece which made it difficult, and I honestly still feel like I’m learning a little bit but I [do] feel a lot better. (Bryana)

How to assess clothes properly

Bryana and Jenni have launched Be the Reason, a virtual space through Instagram where people in recovery from eating disorders can swap and trade clothes. They want people to know that you should wear the clothes that make you feel good and those that you think you look good in. Ignore the sizes and ignore the numbers, because every store and country has a different sizing system anyway. You could be a large in one store and a medium size in another: they are arbitrary. So learn to ignore the numbers and rather assess your clothes by how they make you feel.
We’re keeping the labels on [the clothes] … also to live in the reality that when you go to a store, the tags are going to be there, and to try and encourage and remember that the number doesn’t mean anything. It’s [about] what fits and what’s comfortable. (Jenni)

Social media is not your friend

Social media is a platform used by companies to market their products or services. It is inherently supposed to be a neutral space, but there are very little or limited restrictions on what can and is published online. Remember this: the diet industry and the fashion industry profit from you not liking yourself. They encourage people to feel bad about themselves so that they will purchase more clothes, products, or supplements.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that you have to constantly choose recovery everyday and I think that’s so true because … being in recovery, things aren’t always going to be perfect. It’s not linear, there are going to be days when things are more difficult. (Bryana)
Be mindful of your sources of information and inspiration. Curate your social media so that it gives you information that supports and encourages you, find a supportive group to share your experience with, and develop skills that can soothe and assist you. There are so many ways that you can create your recovery - you just have to start looking for them, and incorporate them into your daily routine.



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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