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How To Avoid Relapse Eating Disorder

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Connect With Your Outpatient Treatment Team Regularly

How to PREVENT Eating Disorder Relapse in College | Kati Morton the Therapist discusses dietitians

Before you leave residential treatment, you will have hopefully connected with an outpatient therapist and set up your first appointment post-treatment. Talk to your therapist to determine who else you should connect with to create a team of health professionals that advocate for your recovery. Often a team including a therapist, dietitian and primary care physician, all skilled in treating eating disorders, are highly beneficial for post-treatment care.

Eating Disorder Relapse: 50 Warning Signs That Predict Relapse

Eating disorder relapse = regressing after makingimprovements with your eating disorder.

Relapse doesnt mean failure its acommon part of recovery, and if you slip youcan still turn a negative into a positive by learning from what went wrong andtaking steps to avoid repeating your mistakes in the future.

Of course, nobody wants to relapse, and early identification can make all the difference. Are you on a path to relapse? Do you need to take extrasteps right now to protect yourself?

Signs Of Eating Disorder Relaspe

Some of the signs that could mean that you or a loved one is moving toward a relapse with an eating disorder include:

  • Your thoughts are starting to become increasingly focused on food and weight.
  • Youve lost interest in your treatment for your eating disorder, or youve been hiding information from your care providers.
  • Youre starting to feel like youre losing control.
  • You feel hopeless or overwhelmed.
  • When you think about diet and exercise your primary objective is to look good, rather than to feel good.
  • You begin to look in the mirror a lot or weigh yourself often.
  • You start to isolate yourself or avoid situations that involve eating.

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What Are The Warning Signs

The warning signs of a relapse include:

  • Dishonesty: If youre starting to bargain with yourself when it comes to eating patterns or youre beginning to twist the truth to those around you then you may be trying to rationalise disordered thoughts.
  • Feeling guilty: Eating disorders can often stem from negative feelings towards yourself, your situation and what youre eating. A big part of recovery is learning how to deal with these negative thought patterns. If you are struggling, speak to your GP, therapist or whoever is supporting your recovery.
  • Isolation: Starting to feel depressed or withdrawn from those around you is a sign that you may need extra help.
  • Changing eating habits: Eating habits are a big part of eating disorders and recovery. If youre dipping back into old routines then there may be a problem. If youre supporting a loved one through recovery then this is something more obvious to look out for.

Relapse Prevention And Hope For Recovery

How to prevent an Eating Disorder relapse

Part of relapse prevention for an eating disorder is ensuring that you have adequate treatment, to begin with. Wherever you may be in the process of recovering from an eating disorder, it is never too late to connect to the help and support you need. Whether you are just starting the process or are experiencing a setback in your recovery after years of treatment, professional intervention can help you get back on track and support you in building the skills needed to maintain your efforts. You deserve a lasting recovery that allows you to experience the fullness that life has to offer you.

At The Meadows Ranch, we understand the eating disorder recovery journey and can help you through the highs and lows. You dont have to do this alone. Connect with us today to learn how we can help you recover from an eating disorder or get you back on track after a relapse episode.


BMC Psychiatry

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What Is An Eating Disorder Relapse

An eating disorder relapse is when an individual returns to unhealthy eating habits after a period of recovery.

As with addiction, relapse from an eating disorder is seen as part of the recovery process, and even if you go back to the old habits surrounding your disorder, it doesnt mean that you cant still have a successful long-term recovery.

As people are in recovery for an eating disorder, they will naturally have good days and bad days, but its important to be aware of the potential for relapse and to know the warning signs.

Obsessive Thoughts About Weight And Food:

If you are having incessant thoughts about food and your body that you cant seem to get rid of, this may mean that you need extra help in your recovery. It is never normal to be constantly thinking about food and your body, and if this pattern re-emerges for you, you may need additional support.

You can never have too much support along your journey

If something seems off to you at any point of your recovery, pay close attention to these red flags. You can never have too much support along your journey, and intervention at a higher level of care, even temporarily, can help troubleshoot any issues you are encountering in your recovery.

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What Influences Your Mental Health

When youre working on your mental health, its important to consider what influences it from the outside and the inside. There are outside influences, such as your environment, and inside influences such as your genetics and temperament. Here are some factors that contribute to mental health that you can read about in the advice section.

The Term Relapse Is One That We Often Associated With Drug Or Alcohol Addiction But It Can Be Used With Eating Disorders As Well The Following Provides An Overview Of What An Eating Disorder Relapse Can Look Like And How To Spot It

Eating Disorder Relapse | How I Prevented a Full Relapse | Anorexia & Binge Eating Recovery

Eating disorders involve not only psychological symptoms, but also physical problems and complications, and they often occur along with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems.

It is possible to recover from an eating disorder, and the sooner someone seeks treatment, the more likely their chances are to recover successfully. Its similar in many ways to drug or alcohol addiction, however, because while it is possible to treat an eating disorder, it does require follow-up care after initial treatment, and relapse from eating disorders is possible.

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Five Warning Signs You Need A Higher Level Of Care For Eating Disorder Relapse

Recovering from an eating disorder is a process that involves diligence, perseverance, and the support of people and professionals who know how to best help you. The eating disorder recovery journey is highly individual and will look different from one person to the next. A common experience among women recovering from an eating disorder is a relapse episode, or temporary regression to past eating disorder behaviors.

While eating disorder relapses do not mean that a person has somehow failed at recovery, the experience of a relapse could reflect that more help and support is needed along the recovery journey.

While eating disorder relapses do not mean that a person has somehow failed at recovery, the experience of a relapse could reflect that more help and support is needed along the recovery journey. Research on eating disorder relapse is limited, but studies have found that risk of relapse may be higher among women with more severe eating disorders . Studies have also found that the rates for relapse are higher in the first 18 months post-treatment .

Eating Disorder Relapse Defined

In order to understand relapse, we must discuss what relapse is, specifically. From the world of addictions treatment comes the helpful concepts of lapse, relapse and collapse.

  • In recovery, a lapse is common. A lapse may be thought of as a slip, or as an isolated incident where an individual uses a behavior. In these cases, it is important to acknowledge the lapse and what contributed to it and essentially learn from the episode to handle the next situation differently. With the right attention, a lapse can be contained fairly quickly. Sometimes we tell our patients, do the next right thing.
  • A relapse, on the other hand, is a longer episode or period of time of using symptoms in which the individual struggles to get back on track. This might happen during a time of stress or transition and could be met with increasing support and structure for the individual, such as an extra meeting with the dietitian, therapist, or family therapist, or access to supported dinners for a week.
  • Finally, a collapse indicates that the individual has not been able to contain the relapse and may need a higher level of care in order to manage worsened symptoms with more consistent support. So, depending upon the severity of the relapse from the eating disorder different interventions are required. This may include going back to inpatient or residential care.

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What Is Eating Disorder Relapse

For those in recovery from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to realize that your recovery is starting to slip. The eating disorder relapse can be very subtle and sneaky, slowly working its way back into your life before you realize that you have taken a number of steps backwards. For anyone in recovery, it is important to talk in depth both with yourself and with your team about the red flags that the eating disorder may be creeping back in. Below is a list of common indicators that someones recovery may be at risk.

Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention

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One way to help prevent relapse is to follow the old Boy Scout motto: be prepared. Many eating disorder treatment programs offer weekly Relapse Prevention groups preventing relapse should be emphasized early in treatment. No matter what your personal situation is and what your loved one is going through, you must acknowledge the risk and prepare for the possibility of relapse. When an individual leaves treatment, experts recommend that they have a detailed, personalized relapse plan based upon their own unique circumstances. This plan should be created throughout the course of treatment and shared with loved ones who will help provide support and accountability. The plan should include specific factors that indicate the individual is struggling and the resulting actions that will be taken by the individual and by their loved ones. The more open the whole support system is about how the individual is doing, the better.

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Understanding Eating Disorder Relapse

Just like eating disorder recovery, the experience of a relapse will look different for everyone. While there is no current standardized definition of relapse, there are certain red flags to be aware of that might indicate a regression back to past eating disorder behaviors . Understanding what these indicators might look like for you are important for early intervention and to connect to the support you need to maintain your eating disorder recovery.

Because eating disorders affect multiple aspects of a womans life, including her physical health, emotional and mental well-being, relationships, and more, its necessary to regularly assess these different areas to determine if greater help or support may be needed in recovery. For example, a woman recovering from anorexia may appear to be physically well but if she is struggling with intense body negativity or anxiety/depression, these are signs that shouldnt be ignored, as more help might be needed.

Therapy Benefit #: Accessibility

There are a variety of ways internet-based and other computerized communication with a therapist can work, whether that’s on the phone, via unlimited messaging therapy, or during video chat sessions. This means visiting your therapist’s office in person isn’t required for BetterHelp sessions since all sessions are virtual visits. Additionally, you can select and identify whatever matter you need assistance with within therapy, whether for yourself or for you and your partner, if you would like a couples therapy session. Additionally, if you’re looking to get support for your child/teenager or need a family session… we offer a platform of licensed therapists dedicated to serving teens between the ages of 13-19 years old. Teenagers often respond well to counseling and working with counselors and therapists on our platform because they are more comfortable with messaging or video chatting than they are with sitting in a waiting room at a therapist’s office.

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Dealing With Slips Or Lapses

References: Berends, T., van Meifel, B., Nugteren, W., Deen, M., Danner, U.N., Hoek, H.W., and van Elburg, A. . Rate, timing and predictors of relapse in patients with anorexia nervosa following a relapse prevention program: a cohort study. BMC Psychiatry, 16: 316. Carter, J.C., Mercer-Lynn, K.B., Norwood, S.J., Bewell-Weiss, C.V., Crosby, R.D., Woodside, D.B., and Olmsted, M.P. A prospective study of predictors of relapse in anorexia nervosa: Implications for relapse prevention. Psychiatry Research, 200, 518-523. Hetman, I., Klomek, A.B., Goldzweig, G., Hadas, A., Horwitz, M., & Fennig, S. Percentage from target weight predicts re-hospitalization in adolescent anorexia nervosa. Israel Journal of Psychiatry, 54 , 28-34. Keel, P.K., Dorer, D.J., Franko, D.L., Jackson, S.C., and Herzog, D.B. . Post-remission predictors of relapse in women with eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 2263-2268. . McFarlane, T., Olmsted, M.P., & Trottier, K. . Timing and prediction of relapse in a transdiagnostic eating disorder sample. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 41, 587-593.

Mental Health Treatment Options

things I do to avoid an eating disorder relapse | recovery diaries.

There are various treatment options for mental health issues. Its important to remember that everyones mental health journey is different. What works for you might not work for someone else. One of the most commons treatments for mental illness or when someone is struggling with their mental health is psychotherapy.

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What Are The Warning Signs Of Anorexia Relapse

Typically, when you have completed a treatment programme for anorexia, you are given a recovery eating schedule and a set of coping skills to help you stay on track. You will also have spent time learning about these things during the treatment programme.

One of the first warning signs for relapse is gradually diverging from your eating schedule. For example, you may:

  • Remain within your recovery eating schedule but start making small changes e.g. avoiding specific food groups or cutting food into tiny pieces before you eat it
  • Start skipping meals or snacks that have been recommended as part of your eating schedule
  • Start reducing the portion sizes of the meals in your recovery eating schedule
  • Become complacent or show a lack of interest in using the skills you have learned during treatment

Other warning signs of an anorexia relapse include some of the more general symptoms of anorexia, such as:

  • Weight loss and being unwilling to gain weight
  • Controlling food and limiting the amount you eat and drink
  • Making yourself sick after meals
  • Exercising excessively
  • Becoming stressed and anxious at mealtimes
  • Feeling guilty and ashamed when you eat
  • Feeling exhausted due to starving yourself
  • Self-harming

Five Important Relapse Prevention Tips For Eating Disorder Recovery:

Have a Support System in Place: Recovery is an ongoing process, and while you may not always need to be at a certain level of treatment, it is a good idea to have constant support around yourself for your recovery journey. This may be a mentor that you meet with periodically for accountability, a support group that you can check in with, a therapist/counselor, dietitian, etc.

Relapses often occur during moments of vulnerability, so having a support system already in place can be an invaluable resource when you are needing extra help or encountering challenging circumstances.

Understand Your Triggers: As you progress in your eating disorder recovery, it is important to understand what situations, emotions, circumstances, etc. may trigger urges to engage in your eating disorder. Urges themselves are not a bad thing in fact, eating disorder urges can be used to identify when a situation is triggering or difficult to work through.

For example, if you find yourself suddenly experiencing an increased urge to restrict, binge, purge, etc., this can be a helpful time to examine the circumstances in your life and identify what may be influencing these urges. The more you are better able to understand your triggers, the better you can anticipate situations that may influence eating disorder behaviors.



Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 4, 2017. Published on

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Relapse Prevention Tips For Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, are complex illnesses that often require significant time for treatment and healing.

The recovery process is highly individualized, and everyones recovery journey will look completely different.

For some people who are recovering from an eating disorder, the healing process may take years.

For other individuals, the recovery process may happen over a shorter period of time.

This will vary, depending on a variety of factors, such as severity and length of the illness, the presence of any other mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders, available treatment approaches and time of intervention.

One thing that can be agreed upon is experiencing episodes of relapse is often part of the journey for many individuals recovering from an eating disorder.

Focus On Health Not Looks

The day after a relapse... (Eating Disorder Recovery)

There are many factors that contribute to eating disorders, but one of the most of the most common is low self-esteem, which often leads to compensatory behaviors. People with eating disorders, especially anorexia and bulimia, become obsessed with staying skinny or reaching a target weight, and all of their diet and exercise activities are in service of this purpose.

In the throes of an eating disorder, it can be easy to forget that food is not a vice. Because of all the complicated feelings of guilt surrounding eating, eating disorder sufferers lose sight of the fact that having a healthy diet is essential to living a full and productive life.

Although it may be one of the hardest things youll ever do, now is the time to make changes to the way you think about food. Think of eating not as a vice but as a way to give much-needed energy and nutrients to your body and mind. Think of dieting as out of the question. Healthy eating is much more important and is actually the key to maintaining and keeping a healthy weight.

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