Musical Inspiration for Eating Disorder Recovery

September 16, 2014 Jessica Hudgens

Many times throughout the course of my eating disorder, I found myself listening to music that encouraged my disordered behaviors and thoughts. These songs are still indelibly marked in my brain and I can sing every word of them when they turn up on my iPod. The problem with this is that singing them only serves to cement the messages in my head. So when I started down the road to eating disorder recovery, I needed a new set of songs to sing along to.

I recognize that not everyone clings to music the way that I do. I was trained as a musician from a young age and music has always been a part of my life. So it was upsetting when my anorexia hijacked that love and made it serve the eating disorder. One of things I have had to consistently do throughout recovery is take back the things that my eating disorder stole -- and music was one of those.

Music is a great coping skill for a lot of reasons and can be used in a lot of different ways. It is really difficult, for example, to purge when you are singing along to the soundtrack of "Rent." It is also really difficult to remain in a bad mood for long when you are listening to a song with a great rhythm that just begs to be danced to. Music can distract. Music can shift moods. Music can encourage.

[caption id="attachment_3295" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Both making and listening to music are great coping skills."]Music can be a powerful source of inspiration in eating disorder recovery. Here is some music to encourage you when recovering from an eating disorder.[/caption]

In eating disorder treatment, music was a huge motivator for me. In fact, when I went into treatment a second time, I chose the center I did because they had music therapy on the schedule every week. I was allowed to bring my flute and practice in free time. As I moved up in the phase system, I was allowed more time to listen to my iPod. But when I was only given 30 or 40 minutes, I had to make the most of that time.

My Eating Disorder Recovery Music Playlist

In my eating disorder, my playlist consisted of songs with dark messages, minor chords, and harsh sounds. So in eating disorder recovery, my musical inspiration playlist had to have more positive songs, in both tone and message. My recovery playlist is a bit eclectic and sometimes a song gets dropped for something new. But these have been regulars for quite some time:

  • "All the Beauty (Kati's Story)" -- JJ Heller
  • "Beautiful Things" -- Gungor
  • "Control" -- JJ Heller
  • "Dear X, You Don't Own Me" -- Disciple
  • "Shadowfeet" -- Brooke Fraser
  • "Twentyfour" -- Switchfoot
  • "Nothing Left to Lose" -- Matt Ryd (a brilliant young musician who killed himself last year after a long battle with depression and an eating disorder)
  • "Message from Your Heart" -- Kina Grannis
  • "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)" -- Shakira
  • "Video" -- India.Arie
  • "Skyscraper" -- Demi Lovato
  • "Just Showed Up For My Life" -- Sara Groves
  • "Add to the Beauty" -- Sara Groves
  • "Sweet Surrender" -- John Denver
  • "My Wish" -- Rascal Flatts (this was the "goodbye song" at my treatment center, so it always brings with it a flood of sweet memories)
  • "Finale B" -- "RENT" Cast

Everyone's musical tastes are different, so I hardly consider this "the" eating disorder recovery playlist. In fact, a lot of the songs that have become a part of this regular rotation were initially shared with me by other friends in recovery.

I'd love to know: What songs do you listen to for encouragement in your recovery?

Jess can also be found on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Hudgens, J. (2014, September 16). Musical Inspiration for Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Jessica Hudgens

December, 9 2014 at 1:08 pm

I would highly recommend listening to Maria Mena, a Norwegian singer who sings in English; a number of her songs focus around her battle with an eating disorder. One fantastic song by her, for recovery is 'I always liked that.'

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jessica Hudgens
December, 10 2014 at 3:30 pm

Awesome, Bridget! Thanks for the suggestion!

September, 19 2014 at 4:55 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I love Brooke Fraser, jj heller and sara groves. I also use these songs in recovery. I am so blessed to have a best friend who happens to be a music therapist. She has been so instrumental (ha! Pun not intended) in teaching me to use the right kind of music as a positive coping skill. I love the way you described it as having to reclaim the parts of your life that were hijacked. I will have to share this with her. :) thanks again for being so transparent. It is so encouraging to continue down this road knowing you're not alone.

September, 17 2014 at 3:13 am

I love the part about, "I was trained as a musician from a young age and music has always been a part of my life. So it was upsetting when my anorexia hijacked that love and made it serve the eating disorder." So true in so many circumstances. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jessica Hudgens
September, 17 2014 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Jade. Early in my recovery, I decided that I had to "reclaim" territory I had lost to the ED. It has been quite motivating. :)

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