According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), recovering from an eating disorder can take months or even years. Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can have a devastating impact on an individual’s life. It is estimated that around 30 million people (about the population of Texas) in the US suffer from an eating disorder, and many of them can make a full recovery with the right treatment and support.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, those suffering from an eating disorder can learn how to manage their symptoms and live a healthier life.
Receiving a Proper Diagnosis
Getting a proper diagnosis is essential for starting the journey towards recovery from an eating disorder (ED). Eating disorders can be difficult to diagnose and may require a comprehensive assessment from a medical professional.
The first step in getting diagnosed with an eating disorder is talking to your doctor or healthcare provider. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, medical history and order any additional tests or assessments required. You may also be referred for counseling or therapy to further evaluate your condition and determine the best course of treatment.
It is important to remember that no one should go through this process alone – seeking support from family, friends, and mental health professionals can make the journey easier. With the right help and support, you can get diagnosed with an eating disorder and begin your journey towards recovery.
What Eating Disorder Treatment Looks Like
Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that can have severe physical and emotional effects. If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Here is what you need to know about eating disorder treatment.
There are four main pillars to eating disorder treatment:
- Medical care: Eating disorders can be fatal, so getting medical attention right away is critical. A doctor will evaluate your symptoms to assess your overall physical health. This will be considered when determining the level of care that will be best for you.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy helps people learn how to manage their emotional distress in healthy ways. In therapy, you might learn how to manage stress and negative emotions without turning to food or exercise as coping mechanisms. You might also develop strategies for dealing with problems in healthy ways rather than using food or exercise as solutions. Some therapists use techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to help patients address the behaviors that led them to develop an eating disorder in the first place.
- Nutrition counseling: A nutrition counselor or dietitian can provide guidance on nutrition and meal planning during recovery, as well as suggest healthy eating plans that are best suited for your specific needs. Many patients benefit from working with a dietitian after leaving treatment as this can be helpful for creating and maintaining a balanced diet once the patient returns home.
- Support network: Setting up an eating disorder support group is important for long-term recovery. Having others who understand what you are going through can make recovery much easier — both in terms of sharing experiences and getting advice on how other people handled specific challenges.
Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Food
“Recovery might mean finally enjoying the holidays or viewing food as a way to care for yourself rather than a source of stress or guilt,” says Masha Sardari MS, RD, LDN, Clinical Dietitian at Koru Spring. During inpatient treatment some of the main nutritional priorities include restoring energy levels, balancing macronutrients, and establishing a regular eating pattern.
After treatment, the focus shifts towards rebuilding your relationship with food so that you can navigate recovery successfully.
Here are Sardari’s list of some important milestones in recovery to be mindful of:
- Thoughts about food no longer dominate your life, eating has become a normal part of your day
- You find yourself being able to enjoy social gatherings and events involving food
- You no longer attribute your self-worth to the shape and size of your body
- You can enjoy all foods without guilt
- You respond to your body’s signals such as hunger and satiety
- You can maintain your weight within your individual biological range without compensatory behaviors
- You find that you no longer engage in your ED behaviors and find yourself interested in hobbies and activities you enjoy
Having a Long-term Plan is Key
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, you know that the road to recovery is not always easy. A long-term eating disorder recovery plan can help you feel in control of your treatment and give you the tools you need to succeed.
The following steps are a guide to the types of things that you need to think about when creating your own plan:
- Talk with your doctor or therapist about your goals and concerns before beginning treatment. This will help them better understand what they can do to help you achieve success.
- Set realistic goals and expectations for treatment, such as how much weight you want to lose/gain or how many times a week you want to exercise.
- Make a list of all the things that could get in the way of achieving your goal — like stress at work or school — and produce ways to deal with them so they do not prevent you from making progress toward your goal.
- Make sure any medications prescribed during treatment are taken as directed by your doctor or therapist (if necessary).
- Having a Relapse Prevention Plan in place is important and you should see your therapist or doctor immediately if you do experience a relapse.
Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is one of the most common eating disorders in the United States, affecting as many as 2.8 million people. With its prevalence being more than three times more common than bulimia and anorexia.
The recovery process is a journey as BED often coexists with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders (e.g., alcoholism). Women are more likely than men to have both BED and bulimia nervosa (BN) or anorexia nervosa (AN).
It is important to remember that recovery does not happen overnight — it takes time, dedication, and persistence.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, we have an amazing treatment facility at Koru Spring in Jacksonville, Florida.
Call Koru Spring Now: 844.951.1888