Living with an eating disorder is challenging. Receiving a proper diagnosis is the first step towards treatment and recovery.

Living with an eating disorder can feel like fighting a daily battle with the voice in your head. People living with an eating disorder describe it as never feeling good enough or being happy with themselves. Others may feel like no one understands what they’re going through, so they keep the details of their condition to themselves. Over time, an eating disorder can become an inescapable, vicious cycle of secrecy and self-loathing.

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that can have serious consequences on a person’s mental and physical health. Obsession with food, body image and weight in these cases may lead to life-threatening outcomes if the disorder is not recognized and treated appropriately. Obtaining a diagnosis early on can increase the likelihood of recovery.

Before an Eating Disorder Diagnosis

When a person is living with an eating disorder, they may frequently feel guilt, shame, and self-hatred. These negative feelings can prompt harmful eating behaviors, such as binging, purging, excessive exercise, undereating or abstaining from eating altogether.

Before someone can do anything about their eating disorder, they must first acknowledge its existence. Continued eating disorder behaviors can cause severe physical and mental health problems and have the potential to impact a person’s job, family, relationships and social life.

After an Eating Disorder Diagnosis

If you notice you or someone you love exhibiting eating disorder symptoms, speaking to a mental health professional is the first step to feeling better. The mental health professional can use diagnostic criteria to diagnose eating disorders and make appropriate treatment recommendations. Through treatment, patients can begin to build a healthier and more fulfilling life.

After diagnosis, treatment varies depending on the severity of each patient’s symptoms and behaviors. Inpatient treatment for eating disorders can benefit many patients because it usually involves regular psychiatric care, access to an on-site nutritionist, and medical treatment to address the physical health effects of eating disorders. However, people living with an eating disorder can also benefit from outpatient care, which can provide physical and psychological support on a part-time basis.

Whether the patient begins with inpatient or outpatient care, therapy is a key part of treatment. Attending individual therapy can help people find ways to change their thought patterns and learn new coping skills to improve their relationship with food. Group therapy and support groups provide an opportunity for people living with eating disorders to share their experiences and encourage each other in recovery. Family therapy can improve the relationships between the patient and their loved ones and allow friends and family to be a more effective support system throughout treatment.

After Treatment

After completing treatment, it is common for patients to feel overwhelmed. They may wonder how they will follow their diet plan or if they’ll be able to handle setbacks outside of professional care. The following guidelines can help people begin to gain confidence in their recovery:

  • Realize that people sometimes change and grow in different directions. Don’t take it personally if you grow apart from your former friends after treatment. Instead, be open to creating new friendships.
  • Face situations you never let yourself face before. By challenging yourself and engaging in purposeful inner reflection, you can discover where your true passions lie.
  • Keep your support system close, especially during the first few years of recovery. It’s easier to avoid looking back and feeling sorry for yourself when loved ones are helping you move forward.
  • The recovery process can be challenging. However, remember that it gets a little easier with each passing day.

It can be challenging to begin the recovery process from an eating disorder, especially when co-occurring addiction is involved. At The Recovery Village, people with co-occurring substance use and eating disorders can find compassionate, caring and high-quality treatment in a comfortable environment. With access to a team of mental health professionals and dietitians, patients enjoy peace of mind in knowing that they are receiving high-quality treatment. To learn more, call The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative.

Megan Hull
Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more
Krisi Herron
Medically Reviewed By – Krisi Herron, LCDC
Krisi Herron is an Adjunct Psychology Professor, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and a freelance writer who contributes to several mental health blogs. Read more

Davidson, A. “Physicians’ Perspectives on the Treatm[…]in the Acute Setting.” Journal of Eating Disorders, 2018. Accessed January 2019

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.