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Body Positive Works Holistic Wellness & Health Blog

Be You…Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help With Eating Disorders

Last Updated: December 12, 2023

Eating disorders affect approximately 70 million people internationally. Treatment and recovery of eating disorders not only focuses on the physical aspect of handling food but the mental health portion of it as well.

Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists are an important part of your personal team in order to help you create the goals needed to build an overall positive relationship with food.

There are many ways to approach this with your recovery specialist but it is important to understand the various stages that you will go through when exploring the cause of your eating disorder.

Professionals will often refer to this as the “Stages of Change” which is a cycle rather than a linear progression for people with eating disorders.

  1. Precontemplation Stage- This stage occurs prior to when you believe you have a program. Those around you may pick up on the signs and symptoms, but you are still in denial.
  2. Contemplation Stage- This stage occurs when you are willing to admit that there is a program and are now open to receiving help. Fear is often very present during this stage, but finding the right help including an Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist will help with the appropriate processing of your feelings.
  3. Preparation Stage- This stage is transitioned to when you are ready to change but not fully aware of how to do so. You may work with your Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist to learn specific coping skills or to reduce potential barriers.
  4. Action Stage- This is the stage that implementation occurs. You are currently ready to work with your new skills and confront the eating disorder. It is important to understand that your Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist is there to guide you and assist with making this stage successful.
  5. Maintenance/Relapse- This stage comes into play when you have worked the Action Stage for approximately 6 months. You are currently working on your new behaviors and consistently using your new coping skills. This stage also includes handling potential triggers that may cause a relapse. To prevent relapse, do not be afraid to reach out to your Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist for help!

Actively set personal goals for yourself with or without the assistance of an Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist. Goals help keep you on track throughout the process. Smaller goals are essential as they create milestones to keep you motivated.

  • Be patient…. It takes time and will not change overnight
  • Be honest…..with yourself and others. It’s okay to ask for help
  • Be intuitive ….. Focus on how you feel rather than how you look
  • Be creative….. Work towards creating a life outside of recovery
  • Be motivated….. Focus on things other than food that bring joy
  • Be supportive….. Support yourself on the small steps as opposed to the bigger picture
  • Be centered….. Focus on yourself and your surroundings. Include those that are most supportive of your efforts
  • Be connected…..Stay connected with your treatment team and therapist. Even once treatment is over, they are available to help
  • Be invented…… Start a new hobby or a new book to break up your routine and open your mind to new opportunities.
  • Be mindful…… Remove any items that cause negative thoughts to include scales
  • Be forgiving….. Make amends with someone who you lost contact with or who you may have hurt in the past

Where can I find an Eating Disorder Recovery Specialist? Below you will find some options that are available. It is important to always select the one the is the best for you. Setting yourself up with a team that is solely focused on your success will help you stay motivated and provide the support you need.

Virtual National Eating Disorders Eating Recovery Center

New Jersey Body Positive Works, Saddle River, NJ 201-708-8448 The Renfrew Center, Paramus NJ 877-357-8568 Center for Discovery, Paramus NJ 855-200-6435 Princeton Center for Eating Disorders, Plainsboro NJ 855-636-7217

Out of State The Body Image Center, Washington DC 844-394-3319 Canopy Cove Disorder Treatment Center Tallahassee, FL 855-338-8620

When looking for an eating disorder recovery center, it most likely is not at a time when anxiety and concerns are low. It is typically a time froth with concern, worry, fear, and perhaps uncertainty as well. Overwhelm is an emotion frequently felt, as one is navigating through uncharted territory.

There are many areas to consider when beginning the search for a recovery center. Here, we will address 3 things to look for when finding an eating disorder recovery center: 1. The level of care 2. The types of services offered – holistic and traditional – East meets West 3. Questions to ask and eating disorder recovery steps and goals

So, where does one begin?… First, with a deep breath.

Eating disorder recovery is available!

Learning some of the questions to ask, understanding the philosophy and resources of the center, and knowing the services offered are helpful things to look for when finding an eating disorder recovery center. Knowing the appropriate level of care is the first step.

Inpatient care can be characterized as the highest level of care when 24-hour monitoring is essential. Typically this level of care takes place in a hospital setting or specialized facility. The focus is on acute care, and monitoring of medical needs associated with this high level of care is necessary. Length of stay may range from a few days to a few weeks.

Residential care is a live-in setting, recommended for individuals who are medically stable, have perhaps left inpatient care, or are not yet completely ready for a step down to lower levels of care. Average stay can vary from weeks to months, with the goal of stabilization both medically and psychologically from eating disorder symptomatology.

Intensive outpatient care allows the individual to live in their own residence, return to the facility for appointments, and participate in scheduled programs onsite. The number of days of attendance at the recovery center varies, as does the number of hours per day.

Outpatient care takes on a full range of options from individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, appointments with dietitians/nutritionists, medical doctors, and supportive practices, such as holistic modalities (i.e. yoga, meditation, reiki, acupuncture, etc.). The frequency of appointments is determined by the severity of the eating disorder and reevaluated on an ongoing basis.

Recently there has been a refreshing integration of holistic modalities for eating disorders treatment, such as yoga, meditation, reiki, acupuncture, tai chi, chi gong, homeopathy, and expressive arts, such as dance and music, within traditional areas of practice such as nutrition, psychotherapy, and medical consultation.

The union of Eastern and Western philosophies and techniques has led to a more expansive understanding of healing from eating disorders and provided a plethora of supportive resources and tools. When considering an eating disorder recovery center, note the availability and integration of these resources, as they have the ability to enhance individualized eating disorder recovery steps and goals. A comprehensive approach, where a variety of services are offered, gives the fullest experience to recovery.

Next, begin to ask questions!

  • What is the philosophy of the recovery center?
  • What are the credentials of the professionals?
  • Are families involved in the recovery process?
  • What do others say about the recovery center?
  • Is a holistic and spiritual approach offered?
  • Are services individualized for each person?
  • Do they treat co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse?

Lastly, let’s discuss eating disorder steps and goals. They are as individualized as each person seeking them. The first step, however, is admitting that help is necessary…and from there, the path to recovery is unique, but with some common threads.

Consider on the road to eating disorder recovery such areas as:

  • Self-empowerment
  • Self-care
  • Belief in self
  • Relationship with food
  • Relationship with one’s own body
  • Societal messages
  • Perfectionism
  • Expectations of self
  • Spirituality
  • Education about nutrition, and function of the body
  • Self-esteem, self-confidence
  • Interpersonal relationships

Eating disorder recovery is yours to have – find support, find meaning, and find yourself!

Remember it is okay to “mess up”, this takes time and effort. Help is always available, but you must be willing to reach out. Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists have the skills needed to provide you a safe space to process your emotions and break down the barriers that keep you from achieving your ultimate recovery goals.