The Stages of Eating Disorder Recovery

Defining eating disorder recovery is impossible – for everyone’s journey and recovery are completely different. With this, comes different ways to define it. But, it is easy to see recovery as the start and finish or before and after. However, every day is different and sparks a new challenge. New obstacles are always being thrown at you whether it’s trying a new food or resisting an urge. As you find what makes you happy and become a stronger being, it is easier to realize what a happy, balanced, and healthy life can look like. Eating Disorder Recovery is always moving, changing, and growing with you. 

First things first, it is important to recognize the type of eating disorder that you are struggling with. There are several types of eating disorders: 

Anorexia Nervosa: This is the most well-known but actually the least common eating disorder. Food intake is severely restricted, and symptoms include being very underweight and having a distorted body image. 

Bulimia Nervosa: This is binge-eating followed by purging. Bulimia sufferers tend to have a relatively normal weight rather than becoming underweight. 

Binge Eating Disorder: This is when a person is unable to control their food intake – eating large quantities of food all at once and then feeling shame or guilt. There is no purging. People with Binge Eating Disorder are often overweight. 

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder: This is when your symptoms don’t match any of the above, but it doesn’t mean it’s less serious.

With all of these out there, knowing what you are struggling with is very important for your self-awareness and recovery. Seeking eating disorder therapy and treatment improves and speeds recovery, however, make it known that it doesn’t happen overnight- there is a significant amount of time and several stages as they move towards recovery. Here are a few of the stages so that you can meet your eating disorder recovery goals. Do know that not everybody moves in stages like this, but these general stages are similar in many. 

Eating Disorder Recovery Stage One

The first stage of recovery and probably one of the most important is your starting point and stabilization of your physical health. Yes, although your mental health is very important too, in order to go through the recovery process, stabilizing your physical health is necessary. In order to do this, it may be necessary to seek residential treatment or intensive day programming. 

Eating Disorder Recovery Stage Two

Along with physical health, ending your eating disorder behaviors and weight restoration is a very important part of the second stage.  It is important to know that weight restoration is thought of in terms of restoring health and weight stability, not just in weight increase or decrease. Depending on what type of eating disorder you have and the severity, this looks different for different people. The question of where someone’s weight “should” be is complex and requires multiple factors to be carefully considered by the multidisciplinary network of help, therapists, specialists, and family. This stage usually takes a good chunk of time. 

Eating Disorder Recovery Stage Three

This third stage of recovery is the stopping of eating disorder thoughts and feelings, which can also take a long period of time. During this, intensive outpatient care or outpatient care is often recommended. Care in this stage is focused on continued health and mental health improvement. Individuals will work on skill development for the management of thought patterns and urges related to eating disorder behaviors, while also developing a supportive community.

Eating Disorder Recovery Stage Four

The fourth stage of recovery is relapse prevention. Anyone who has recovered from an eating disorder carries an awareness that they have experienced a serious and life-threatening thing. So, It is crucial to take steps to be protected against it. Outpatient care is often recommended during this time as well as the further development of skills and support systems needed to remain healthy.

Eating Disorder Recovery Stage Five

The fifth and final stage of recovery is the appreciation of the recovered state. This stage includes the awareness of the strength and fragility of one’s recovered state and the ongoing development of a community to protect, support, and help in continuing to live a meaningful life.

Having access to multiple modalities, all under one roof, Body Positive Works affords individuals an opportunity to seek recovery for their whole self – body, mind, and spirit. We have created a space where individuals can speak authentically and openly about their relationship with food, body, self, and society, supporting individuals, and their families, struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating.

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