Can You Recover from an Eating Disorder?

Many people who suffer from eating disorders want to know if it’s possible to fully recover from an eating disorder. The short answer is yes, it is possible; but it is a process that requires a lot of patience, honesty, self-forgiveness and hard work to see it through. According to Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) (www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org), the only way to live a happy life free of your eating disorder is to show up, do the work, tell the truth and let go of the outcomes. Here are some more suggestions from Eating Disorders Anonymous to help you on your journey to recovery (taken from the EDA publication: Suggestions for Recovery).

Eating Disorder Recovery: The First 3 Months

* Consult a doctor to make sure you are medically stable.
* Get support from a counselor and nutritionist who are trained in eating disorders.
* Read recovery literature.
* Keep things simple.
* Make a list of self-soothing activities, and do one or two a day.
* Practice being honest with yourself and others; validate your feelings.
* Give yourself permission to eat.
* Practice eating when hungry and stopping when you’re moderately full.
* Let go of second-guessing your choices.
* Attend a variety of meetings (online and in-person, if possible).
* Make outreach calls.
* Find a sponsor/partner and make regular contact.
* Work the 12 Steps with your sponsor/partner.
* Keep a journal.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Months 3 through 6

* Continue doing everything above.
* Continue to apply the advice of your physician, counselor and nutritionist.
* Accept a service position at one of your regular EDA meetings.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Months 6 through 12

* Continue doing everything above.
* Make use of daily meditation literature (a simple 5 minutes can really help).
* Help others; ask program members to coffee, a movie, etc.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Try New Ways of Thinking

* Focus on solutions to your issues and what is working.
* Take responsibility for your choices; don’t blame others or continue to view yourself as a victim.
* Keep an open mind; be willing to change your mind and your behavior.
* Keep being honest.
* Express your feelings safely.
* Think about bringing balance into your life.
* Express gratitude.
* See yourself as recovering.
* Be compassionate to yourself and others.
* Trust your inner resources; learn to rely on yourself.
* Treat yourself as if you are your best friend.
* Approve of yourself: Your best is good enough!
* Confront any ill attitudes and behaviors you have.
* Identify ruts in your recovery and plan new ways to think and act.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Try New Behaviors

* Make a list of what your eating disorder does for you, and come up with alternatives that deliver the same result.
* When feeling down or uncomfortable, ask: “What would I be doing if I felt better?” and then do it.
* Explore new ways to communicate and set boundaries; you will be taking care of yourself and your self-esteem will benefit.
* When angry, ask: “What would make me feel hear and validated?” and do it.
* If you’re afraid of rejection, plan how to comfort yourself when you get it.
* Confess your mistakes and what your want to do differently next time.
* Be wary of setting unrealistic expectation. Talk with others before deciding what is realistic. Be flexible in your thinking.
* Let go of perfectionism. It will only hamper your progress!

Eating Disorder Recovery: Getting Help

In addition to getting group support from places such as Eating Disorders Anonymous (for a list of local meetings, visit: http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/meetings.html, a good foundation for recovery should also include getting professional help at a facility that specializes in treating eating disorders. At an eating disorder treatment facility, you’ll receive therapy, nutritional counseling and medical help from specialists trained in treating eating disorders.

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