Saturday, June 18, 2022

What To Expect Eating Disorder Recovery

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Life After An Eating Disorder

WHAT TO EXPECT IN RECOVERY FROM AN EATING DISORDER + Have breakfast (pancakes duh) with me 🙂

A residential eating disorder is a supportive, safe place where a person with an eating disorder can go to heal. During treatment, the person is surrounded by a support network of therapists, recovered staff and peers. This support is nurturing and helps the person heal.

After residential or intensive treatment ends, many people leaving treatment feel overwhelmed by the transition back to daily life. They are not sure what to expect in anorexia nervosa recovery. Many people in recovery wonder if they will be able to maintain the progress that they have made. They might worry about whether or not they will be able to talk to someone when they feel overwhelmed. These thoughts are normal.

Fortunately, there are some things that a person can do after anorexia nervosa recovery to maintain the gains that they have made in residential or intensive treatment. Here are some things to help life after anorexia nervosa recovery go smoothly.

Ping Down A Level In Eating Disorder Treatment

If you do go through formal treatment, there are levels of treatment. You may stay at a treatment facility 24/7, then move down to a day treatment program, then only go two or three days a week. Every time you move down a level, you get back more of your independence, and more chances to prove to yourself that you can do recovery.

What Is The Refeeding Process

The refeeding process is necessary when an undernourished individual increases their caloric intake after consuming little to no food for a prolonged period of time. In your childs eating disorder recovery, the refeeding process is very important because it helps to repair the damage that has occurred to your childs body as a result of their eating disorder. The general guidelines of the refeeding process for an individual living with an eating disorder can be found below. However, it is important to remember that the process must be tailored to each individuals unique needs.

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Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Being self-critical often goes along with many other symptoms of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, exacerbating an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.

Eating Disorder Recovery: What I’ve Learned In 11 Months

Eating Disorder Treatment

Today marks my 11th month in recovery from an eating disorder. Wow. Eleven months.

Eleven months living my life for the first time, learning about joy and sorrow, and rediscovering what it means to live as my authentic self. I have a long way to go, but man, have I come so far.

When I first began treatment almost two years ago, my therapist compared the eating disorder to a cactus stuck in my foot: not only did I have to remove the plant, but I had to dig out all the needles as well. And that, as I have come to learn, takes a long time. Still, here I am, celebrating a milestone I felt would never be possible.

So, I want to highlight this last year, as well as put into perspective the extreme challenges of maintaining recovery from such an aggressive disorder, all the while being transparent in my experience with juggling life, recovery, and mental stability.

There are going to be slip ups. But a slip is not a relapse.

When I left my final treatment center 11 months ago, I thought I would never engage in a behavior again. This expectation has continually tripped me up on my journey. My perfectionistic tendencies wanted to hold the reigns on recovery and shape the way it looked to heal from the eating disorder. There will be slip ups but lets be clear: a slip up is not a full blown relapse.

Body image may not be where you want it.

Youll likely experience brand new emotions.

Be brave and dare to feel in this world. Ive found that it is worth it.

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I Have A Problem But I Dont Care

You now realise you have an eating disorder and that it has taken over your life. But you dont want to live without your eating disorder, because it makes life easier and makes you feel better. Your eating disorder might distract you from your other problems. It might even give you a purpose in life and a sense of worth and self-control. You dont need anyone to help you, because your eating disorder is always there to help you. You could recover, but you dont want to get better.

I knew that there was something wrong, but I didnt want to change. I knew that I was not eating enough and that my dieting was harming my body I wasnt having periods anymore and I was freezing all the time.

But it was working for me, so I didnt care. I was so proud of myself for having enough discipline to follow my strict dietary rules and control my will and body. At this eating disorder recovery stage, I had no interest in getting better.

If you want to know more about how you can challenge your food rules, read my article Food rules: How to disobey them.

How To Recover From An Eating Disorder

Recovery from an eating disorder is possible with support and treatment. Recovery can help a person overcome emotional and physical barriers that stand in the way of a healthy self. Treatment for eating disorders can help the person discover a sense of purpose, enjoy social activities and renew relationships with loved ones.

During eating disorder treatment, the person learns how to gain control of symptoms, work on issues that trigger eating disorder-related behaviors and identify supports to help them along the path to becoming fully recovered.

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Your First Day At Eating Disorder Solutions

One of the biggest questions we get is regarding your first day at our treatment center. Its normal to feel absolutely overwhelmed or a flood of emotions as you enter our doors, but its important to realize that this is normal and we are here for you through every step of the process.

When you arrive at our facility in Dallas, TX, youll be greeted by one of our compassionate and caring team members. He or she will guide you through the process as you meet with a variety of our team members including a nurse for a physical assessment and labs, a medical doctor to review any complications or specific needs, as well as your treatment team made up of a psychiatrist, therapist and dietitian. We will help you get to know your surroundings and allow you to ask questions so you can get comfortable with the area and our process.

When our clients seek treatment at our facility, they undergo a full medical evaluation. As part of this effort, we perform a series of physical and mental health tests. Based on our evaluation, our team can determine the specific services that will meet an individuals needs. Our board-certified doctors, licensed therapists and registered dietitians work together to create the best plan for each individual.

Whether our clients are critically ill or medically stable, our healing environment is welcoming and inviting. Youre in a safe environment when you receive treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, TX.

People Who Have Dealt With Eating Disorders Share What Recovery Looks Like For Them

How To Speed Up Eating Disorder Recovery

    Its easy to assume that recovery from an eating disorder impliespoof!those harmful behaviors or negative thoughts and emotions have ended, and the person never has to deal with them again. But, just like with any other mental health condition recovery from an eating disorder is not black and white. Everyones recovery story, and even their definition of recovery, is unique and personal.

    As society slowly works to understand that eating disorders affect more than thin, white, cisgender women, it’s also important to recognize that eating disorders can manifest very differently from person to person, which may also affect their recovery path. People may be at different stages of recovery and move between those stages in a nonlinear way.

    Recovery for one person at a given time may look like a reduction in how often they practice restrictive behaviors related to their eating disorder for another, it may mean they have stopped the behavioral habits but are still working on the emotional aspects of it. Recovery also doesnt mean perfection, or a total absence of relapse. As the National Eating Disorders Association states, Slips, backslides, and relapse tend to be the rule, rather than the exception Overcoming food and eating concerns during recovery is a central goal, but its far from the only task of recovery.

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    Contributor: Margherita Mascolo Md At Acute Center For Eating Disorders At Denver Health

    Anorexia nervosa is characterized by low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, distorted body image, and an extreme focus on shape, weight, and size. It carries the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness, and its complications are a direct consequence of starvation and weight loss. Anorexia recovery is crucial to survival.

    While anorexia nervosa is defined by low body weight, it is divided into two types: restricting and binge-purge based on the mechanism used to achieve low body weight. There are many common physical side effects to both types with a few unique consequences in the binge-purge subtype.

    Body Changes And Weight Gain

    Weight gain and body changes during pregnancy are necessary to keep both the mother and child healthy. The additional weight comes from both the baby and the extra fluid and additional food intake needed to support both the mother and child. The additional weight and fluid retention allow for proper circulation and growth for the baby, keeping both mother and child healthy and thriving.

    While weight gain is vital to a healthy pregnancy, it can be challenging for those in eating disorder recovery. When an individual struggles with restrictive eating, purging or bingeing, it can be hard to break those thoughts and patterns during pregnancy. For those in eating disorder recovery, weight gain is often a common point of fear, anxiety, and distress.

    Not only is an individuals body changing, but its also common for those around the individual to comment on their pregnancy. Phrases like, You barely look pregnant or Look how big your belly is! can be extremely harmful to those in recovery.

    To combat the negative thoughts and feelings that body changes during pregnancy can bring up, its important to have a plan and a support system. That support system can include your doctor, therapist, dietitian, family, friends, and more! Some other ways you can support yourself and cope with body-related changes include:

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    I Tried To Change But I Couldnt

    You need your eating disorder because, without it, you dont know who you are anymore. The eating disorder makes you feel special and gives you control over your life. You would lose these special feelings without your eating disorder. You would just be an unworthy person who has lost control. You are weak without your eating disorder it is so much louder and stronger than you will ever be. When you consider starting a recovery journey, your eating disorder voice gives you a bunch of reasons why you cant do it. You just cant exist without your eating disorder.

    I told myself that I would loosen my strict food rules and start eating more, but even eating a small amount of ice cream made me feel sick and anxious to get rid of the high amount of calories as soon as possible.

    At this eating disorder recovery stage, I felt so hopeless and didnt think I would ever recover from my eating disorder. I accepted that I was stuck like this for the rest of my life and I couldnt see any sense in trying to recover any more.

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    You Should Expect A Variety Of Treatment Approaches

    When used as an important part of a comprehensive eating disorder treatment plan, individual, group, and family therapy all have the power to help patients overcome their disordered behaviors. Therapy acts as a powerful tool that helps reveal the root causes of eating disorders and overcome them.

    While at an eating disorder treatment center, people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other disorders can receive assistance with body acceptance and personal growth to overcome the eating disorder. The ability to accept these newfound perspectives often requires the completion of many different types of individual, group, and family therapy sessions. Professional staff always works toward identifying and treating co-occurring presentations that commonly occur.

    As an example, people with a history of trauma and an eating disorder may require treatment for both the eating disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder to achieve their healthy selves. The multi-faceted approach allows for the treatment of these co-occurring disorders and other complex situations.

    A Note On Counting Calories

    Someone with an active eating disorder cannot eat intuitively or depend on hunger cues to provide sufficient energy to the body. Anxiety responses create a strong and constant pressure to avoid food. As such, a patient should ensure she eats the minimum intake guidelines within each 24-hour period.

    However, counting calories can be anxiety provoking in itself and lead to obsessive compulsivity associated with weighing and measuring food portions. In those cases, patients should involve a dietician or nutritionist to help develop a meal plan. The meal plan should be designed to meet and exceed the minimum intake guidelines. The patient can then focus her attention on merely ticking off the items on the daily intake list, thereby minimizing the anxiety of counting calories for each food item.

    It is just fine to ask a family member or friend for help in designing the meal plan as well. Whether it is a meal plan or a calorie-counting exercise, the goal is to relinquish all control to hunger and accept the onslaught of extreme hunger.

    Many patients are keen to move to intuitive eating very early in the process of recovery. Resist the urge to do so until well beyond phase two otherwise relapse can occur.

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    Physical Side Effects Of Anorexia Nervosa: Restricting And Binge

    Vital sign abnormalities:

    Given the low body weight, the body adapts to have a lower heart rate , lower body temperature , and lower blood pressure in an effort to conserve energy.

    These changes usually cause no symptoms although occasionally patients will complain of being cold, tired, or dizzy. During recovery, as weight increases, these changes all normalize.

    Physical exam findings:

    Patients with anorexia nervosa appear emaciated, have dry skin with a yellow hue, brittle nails, thin scalp hair, lanugo hair which is fine, furry hair found on the face, neck, arms, back, and legs, and purplish-blue hands and feet .

    They may have pressure sores especially in the sacral area due to lack of body fat and pressure on the skin from protruding bones.

    Edema :

    This is seen especially in the ankles, feet, and around the eyes . It is caused by hormonal changes brought on by starvation or by purging and is seen in both restricting and binge-purge subtype. Edema can also be seen as patients with anorexia begin to weight restore .

    This is very distressing to patients given their distorted body image and focus on shape and size. In anorexia recovery, reassurance and continued nourishment are necessary as the edema will resolve as the body heals and gains weight.

    Gastroparesis :

    Osteoporosis :

    There are certain medications that can stop further bone loss but careful discussion with a physician is necessary to consider risks and benefits.

    What To Expect From Treatment

    Motivation Monday #1 /What to expect when recovering from your eating disorder

    Getting a diagnosis is the first step towards recovery from an eating disorder. Treating an eating disorder generally involves a combination of psychological and nutritional counseling, along with medical and psychiatric monitoring. Treatment must address the eating disorder symptoms and medical consequences, as well as psychological, biological, interpersonal, and cultural forces that contribute to or maintain the eating disorder.

    Nutritional counseling is also necessary and should incorporate education about nutritional needs, as well as planning for and monitoring rational choices by the individual patient. There are a variety of treatments that have been shown to be effective in treating eating disorders. Generally, treatment is more effective before the disorder becomes chronic, but even people with long-standing eating disorders can and do recover.

    TREATMENT PROCESS

    Many people utilize a treatment team to treat the multi-faceted aspects of an eating disorder. Treatment teams commonly include the following types of providers:

    • Physician
    • Psychotherapist
    • Additional therapists as required
    • Case manager at your insurance company

    Although there may be exceptions, eating disorder treatment generally addresses the following factors in roughly this order:

  • Correct life-threatening medical and psychiatric symptoms
  • Interrupt eating disorder behaviors
  • Establish normalized eating and nutritional rehabilitation
  • Address ongoing medical and mental health issues
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