Having dealt with both alcoholism and an eating disorder, I can say in my personal experience that staying abstinent from alcohol was much more simple than being sober in my eating behaviors.
I think a lot of times people look at eating disorders like they aren't too serious because they revolve around a substance that everyone consumes on a daily basis; food. Alcoholism, however, involves a demon-like substance which most can understand the negative effects of.
Here's what people do not realize about recovery from an eating disorder vs. recovery from alcohol; Alcohol is not a necessity for living and can be completely cut out, food however is not. Food is a something we absolutely need to survive.
Someone with an eating disorder has to face their demon multiple times a day. We have to get up and have a "proper" breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. We have to do this without restricting or overindulging. Food is not something we can simply abstain from (abstaining is what got a lot of us in trouble in the first place).
Imagine telling an alcoholic they could only have a certain amount at certain times a day, no more no less. Sounds crazy difficult right? Well that is the reality for someone recovering from an eating disorder.
I don't mean to sound like "woe is me", I am just speaking to the reality of the situation. So next time you tell someone with an eating disorder to "just eat" and things will be better, really think about what you are saying.
We with eating disorders face our drug many times throughout the day. We face it and have to ingest the proper dose each time. This is a difficult challenge to face. It takes tons of practice, work, and strength but is possible.
I am speaking only from my own personal experience with these two demons but I think others who have been there can relate. I have been sober from alcohol longer than from my eating disorder behaviors and though tempted from time to time, seem to have an easier time staying away.
Hope this brings to light that eating disorder recovery is a challenging process. If someone around you is struggling try your best to be there for support. This illness is just as serious as any other addiction. If you are uncertain of how to support someone with an eating disorder, just ask them. There is no one fits all support guide for every sufferer.
Stay strong all, recovery is possible.