Relapse Prevention: Eating Disorder Recovery

Recovery is attainable and sustainable but remember, your eating disorder didn’t develop overnight and so it is to be expected that your recovery will likely be the same. Ups and downs, and slips and falls are to be expected. The recovery process is difficult but is worth every effort you put into it. Do not be discouraged if your first attempts do not bring the results you hoped for. Each step forward leads you closer to recovery. Each attempt strengthens the next.

Relapse Prevention

What are some common things you may experience that could have an affect on your recovery?
  • Stress
  • Death of a loved one
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Emotions: Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, abandonment, rejection
  • Fear of change, fear of recovery
  • Feeling powerless
  • Midterms, finals
  • Recent release from inpatient treatment
  • Emotional trauma
  • Discovery of issues in therapy

What can you do to prepare and better arm yourself? Several things.


  • Daily weighing
  • Letting your weight determine how your day will be
  • Skipping meals or purging
  • Over exercising/feeling a need to exercise more
  • Feeling out of control if not dieting
  • Feeling the need to escape from stress, family, therapy issues, etc
  • Feelings of hopelessness or sadness
  • Perfectionistic thinking returns and/or increases
  • Increasing need to be in control
  • Wearing only loose fitting clothes
  • Obsessive thoughts about food and/or weight
  • Increasing belief you can only be happy if you’re thin
  • Obsessing over your reflection
  • Dishonesty with therapist, friends, family, health care provider, etc
  • Avoiding situations that involve food
  • Feel fat though others assure you that you’re not
  • Feeling guilt after eating
  • Isolating yourself
  • Feeling anxious, worried, tense, and/or restlessness
  • Dwelling on past events
  • Inability to use your support systems
  • Avoiding certain foods because of calorie content
  • Suicidal thoughts

Prepare in Advance. Have a Game Plan in Place.

Make two sided lists:

  • Make a Coping Plan: On the left list the things that you feel may cause you to relapse. On the right list healthier, positive ways of dealing with each situation to help you to keep from resorting to old disordered behaviors in times of crisis. Keep this with you or in an easily accessed location.
  • Change your self-talk: On the left side list the negative names and derogatory statements you make about yourself. On the right list positive alternatives/affirmations. Carry this with you and pull it out when you find yourself being self negative.

Shift Your Focus

  • Be involved. Keep busy. Get involved in hobbies, crafts, and any positive activity that helps keep you busy and focused on things other than just your eating disorder and your recovery.
  • Take time out for yourself each day. Remember that you are important and deserve to take care of yourself.
  • Consider; Journaling. Meditation. Yoga. Art.
  • Do things you; are good at. take pride in. find enjoyable and fun.
  • Take a walk and enjoy the birds, nature, fresh air, and the world around you.
  • Increase your feelings of dignity, value and ability by doing something meaningful each day. Something that is a positive for the world or another human being, even if it’s only in a small way. The smallest of things can have a huge impact.

Reach Out!

Make a list of names and numbers of those you can contact for help when you find yourself facing a difficult experience or disordered thoughts/behaviors (including your therapist/ ED coordinator). Reaching out can be a difficult thing for some to do but do it. Each time you do, the next time will be easier.

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s not always possible to avoid slips or relapse. Do not let this be a reason to stop trying. There is no shame in slipping or relapsing. There is no shame in having an eating disorder. Give yourself credit for each step you take, each change you make, no matter how small for each brings you closer to recovery. Extend to yourself the same kindness, understanding, support, and patience that you would to another going through what you are.

Plan each day around your recovery

Let it be that important. Recovery is a process and a learning experience. Keep your focus on what is important. Keep your self-talk positive. Believe in yourself. Believe in your recovery. It takes a lot of hard work but Recovery is attainable and sustainable.

See Also: Using Affirmations: Eating Disorder Recovery
sidebar: for Resources, Tools, Inspirational Recovery Quotes and Quotes Of The Week

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Holly said...

this is gold. thank you.

MrsMenopausal said...

Thank you, Holly. :)