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Demi Lovato shared powerful side-by-side photos to document her eating disorder recovery

INSIDER logoINSIDER 10/20/2017 cpraderio@businessinsider.com (Caroline Praderio)

a woman standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: demi lovato eating disorder recovery © Provided by Business Insider Inc demi lovato eating disorder recovery The singer, who's been open about her struggle with bulimia, shared the before-and-after on Instagram Stories.

  • Singer Demi Lovato has struggled with bulimia for years.
  • This week, the star shared photos that show how dramatic her recovery has been. 
  • In a new documentary about her life, Lovato said that food is "still the biggest challenge" in her life. 

For years, Demi Lovato has been public about her fight to overcome bulimia. A powerful new set of photos shows just how far the 25-year-old has come in her recovery.

The photos — spotted by Glamour — appeared Wednesday on Lovato's Instagram Stories with the caption, "recovery is possible." The photo on the left shows a younger Lovato, presumably at a time before she sought treatment for her eating disorder. The photo on the right is a snapshot from this August. It shows Lovato at a weight and size that appear much healthier.

a screen shot of a woman: demi lovato eating disorder recovery © Provided by Business Insider Inc demi lovato eating disorder recovery Demi Lovato/Instagram

In a revealing interview with American Way magazine last year, Lovato revealed that she began binge-eating and purging at age 9. Lovato has traced these issues back to her early childhood: Her grandmother and mother battled with eating disorders, and her father fought alcoholism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. She has also explained that she was bullied by her peers at school. As a teen, Lovato began to cut herself and self-medicate with alcohol, cocaine, and painkillers. 

"I lived fast and I was going to die young," she told American Way. "I didn't think I would make it to 21."

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In 2010, Lovato left her tour to attend a treatment facility, where she began to recover from bulimia. After an additional one-year stint in a sober house, Lovato was finally able to achieve sobriety, too, American Way reported. (She's now been sober for more than five years.)

a girl posing for a picture: demi lovato © Provided by Business Insider Inc demi lovato

But recovery from eating disorders can take years, and many people experience relapses, the National Eating Disorders Association notes

In a new documentary about her rise to fame and mental health struggles, Lovato revealed that she's still working to develop a healthier relationship with food. Even now, she said in the film, food is "still the biggest challenge" in her life. She also said that she relapsed and began purging after her 2016 breakup with boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama.

But the side-by-side photos prove that, even with a relapse, Lovato's recovery is still moving forward. It's an important message for any of Lovato's 61 million followers who might be dealing with an eating disorder, too.

If you or someone you love are struggling with an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association helpline for support, resources, and treatment options at (800) 931-2237. Text and online chat options are also available.

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Gallery: 8 Silent Signs of Eating Disorders in Children (Courtesy Reader's Digest) At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an <a href="https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/signs-of-an-eating-disorder/1">eating disorder</a> in the U.S., according to the <a href="http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/">National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders</a> (ANAD), and diagnosed cases of eating disorders in American children are on the rise. 'This is partly due to better screening and more open conversation about mental health in general,' explains Heather Russo, Site Director at <a href="http://renfrewcenter.com/">The Renfrew Center of Los Angeles</a>, one of the country's top treatment centers for eating disorders. 'We also see some stigma vanishing as social media has allowed children to openly speak about their own eating and body struggles. The difficulty facing children now is the abundance of messages about food and appearance on every screen in front of them.'For parents of children with eating disorders, help is out there. 'Parents need allies in the fight against an eating disorder,' says Russo. 'They need to work with a team of skilled professionals who can address the dietary, psychological and medical needs of their child.' However, children don't often have the ability to express what they struggle with emotionally, so parents can watch out for the <a href="https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/signs-of-an-eating-disorder/">silent signs of an eating disorder</a>. 8 Silent Signs of Eating Disorders in Children

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