The purpose of this article is to provide guidance, insights, and support for individuals who are trying to navigate the complex path of eating disorder recovery. How long does eating disorder recovery take? All recovery takes a lifetime, which is why it’s important to understand the different stages of eating disorder recovery, build resilience, and when to seek professional help along the way.
Recovering from an eating disorder takes a lifelong effort. Treatment is multifaceted and individualized and requires several stages of eating disorder recovery and long-term strategies for managing eating disorder recovery.
Eating disorder recovery
Recovery from eating disorders is the process of admitting you need help and getting help. Eating disorder recovery is essential to your overall healing.
There are many misconceptions about the eating disorder recovery process. First, many people believe that getting help is a simple, one-time thing that means an individual has been “cured’ or “healed.” In reality, getting help and starting treatment is the first step in a lifetime of recovery. Second, people mistakenly believe that there is a set time frame during which recovery happens.
How long does it take?
How long does eating disorder recovery take? The timeline for Recovery is highly personalized. There is no set pace, and it’s common for the long-term eating disorder recovery process to slow down or speed up at different times for individuals to struggle with relapses.
Recovery of any kind is never a linear process. There will be setbacks, but during those times, it’s important to remember that they are common and they provide valuable information to help you get back toward the path to recovery. Each setback offers an opportunity to develop new skills that further strengthen your long-term goals.
It’s more important to look at recovery as a process, not just a single goal that has to be met. When you focus on recovery as a single goal, it will always seem out of reach, and any setbacks you face can be debilitating.
Your individual circumstances, the type of treatment and support you receive, the environment you have after treatment, your access to resources, and the severity of your eating disorder are just some of the many factors that will influence what your recovery looks like. What matters most is focusing on progress rather than rigid timelines.
Stages of eating disorder recovery
There are different stages of eating disorder recovery, but the four below are the main categories:
1. Early Recognition and Acceptance
First is when you recognize that you have an eating disorder and accept the need for help. You might start to openly share your concerns and recognize the symptoms of an eating disorder rather than trying to rationalize your behaviors.
2. Seeking Professional Support
Second is when you actually seek professional support. This is a transitional phase when you spend time with a mental health professional establishing coping skills that are appropriate for dealing with your eating disorder. You’ll also identify potential barriers to change, develop an action plan with your treatment team, and involve those closest to you in your recovery process.
3. Building Healthy Habits
Once you seek help, you’ll focus on building healthy habits. At this stage, you’ll start implementing your overall plan of action to confront some of your negative eating disorder thoughts or negative emotions. You’ll start to integrate new ideas and behaviors and try to change some of the beliefs and thoughts you have about your appearance, wait, and food in general. You’ll reinforce positive changes, remove triggers, and prepare yourself for the final stage.
4. Coping and Emotion Regulation
The final stage is when you learn to cope with the rest of your recovery, and you prepare for any potential setbacks that might come your way by utilizing coping skills and emotional regulation tools. All of these strategies that you learn when you build healthy habits can put you in a much better position to manage your eating disorder recovery long-term.
Strategies for managing eating disorders recovery
How long does eating disorder recovery take? It depends on what strategies you use to manage your recovery.
Having a supportive environment is essential to recovery from eating disorder conditions. All of the healthy coping mechanisms and supportive routines you create are more likely to succeed if you accept support.
This can come in many forms, such as:
- Speaking with a therapist
- Working with a dietician
- Reading self-help books
- Working with loved ones who support your recovery
Continued support is an essential part of recovery from eating disorders. Many of the services you receive as part of your initial treatment are available long-term.
Nutritional management is an essential part of long-term eating disorder recovery. This involves working with a dietician after your initial treatment to create personalized meals. Meal creation takes into account personal preferences and nutritional health to help overcome and treat the physical aspects of eating disorders.
As you move through the last stages of eating disorder recovery, you will need to develop coping strategies to avoid a relapse. Studies have found that negative self-talk increases the symptoms and severity of such conditions. As such, positive self-talk can help circumvent these issues and lead to better emotional regulation.
Learning to avoid self-criticism can help motivate you and expedite your recovery. Affirmation exercises can be used to notice these critical thoughts and combat them.
Self-come is essential for supporting your recovery. This can encompass many things like:
- Creating a routine for your day and sticking to it
- Prioritizing self-care or activities essential to your recovery
- Using a gratitude journal
- Saying positive affirmations
- Practicing relaxation strategies to reduce stress
- Participating in yoga or meditation
Your self-care should be something that fits your needs and ensures you have a routine you can stand by during eating disorder recovery.
Using several strategies, you can continue on your journey of eating disorders recovery one step at a time. It is important to take things slowly and seek help along the way. Maintaining hope will help build resilience. The process of eating disorder recovery can be transformative if you let it.