Eating disorder recovery can be a long and difficult process. However, taking it one step at a time can make full recovery easier to achieve. An eating disorder is a medical condition that is marked by unhealthy emotions and behaviors regarding food and weight. A person who has an eating disorder has a disrupted eating routine that is often accompanied by extreme fears of getting fat, refusal to consume normal meals, binging and sometimes even starvation. Eating disorders can affect both men and women and have serious consequences, including, in some cases, death. Read on for 5 steps to recover from an eating disorder:
1. Recognize the Problem
Often, the first step in eating disorder recovery is recognizing that there is a problem in the first place. For some people, denial is a big part of having an eating disorder. In fact, some very thin people may truly believe they are fat and have great difficulty seeing their bodies as they actually are. As such, they may resist help from others. If a person with this condition can admit that she has a problem related to food and weight, this can be an important first step in recovery. If she cannot admit this, but is at least willing to talk about it, that can be a good first step too.
2. Seek Professional Help
Professional help is often critical in eating disorder recovery. Eating disorders are notoriously hard to overcome, but a therapist can provide solid help. For example, a therapist may help an individual with an eating disorder face underlying emotions that contribute to her eating issues. A therapist may also help an individual to build her self-esteem, become more comfortable with her body, and develop coping skills that do not involve food. A therapist may meet with an eating disorder patient one on one and provide family therapy when it’s necessary or desired.
3. Try Nutritional Counseling
A person with an eating disorder may benefit from seeing a nutritionist. This professional may provide help with planning meals that are not only nutritious, but also tasty. If an individual does need to lose weight or has legitimate concerns about being too heavy, a nutritionist can help her to make a plan for shedding pounds in a healthy manner. Additionally, a nutritionist may provide important information about how eating disorders can adversely affect a person’s health.
4. Get Support
Having a good support network can be vital to a person’s recovery from an eating disorder. It is helpful if an individual who is struggling with one can turn to family and friends to talk about her experiences, fears and challenges. However, attending a support group, with people who are battling the same problems, may prove helpful as well. Often, individuals feel more comfortable sharing their feelings in such situations because they have less fear of being judged or letting someone down. Support groups that allow loved ones to attend can also help family and friends of a person with an eating disorder cope with their feelings as well.
5. Find Other Outlets
An individual with an eating disorder may benefit from finding new ways to enjoy life while recovering from an eating disorder. This may involve starting a new hobby, going out dancing, or even just taking a daily walk. Adding a little extra enjoyment to life may help an individual feel better able to cope with life’s stresses.
In very severe cases, people with eating disorders may need in-hospital treatment or temporary placement in a residential treatment center. This type of treatment may be recommended if a person’s eating disorder symptoms have lead to a medical condition. A doctor may also suggest this type of treatment if there are serious behavior issues related to the eating disorder.