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Relapse Prevention

By Angie Best-Boss, Contributing Writer

Roughly 7 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men suffer from eating disorders, according a recent report by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, based in Los Angeles. Eighty-six percent of those afflicted report onset by age 20. The diseases have a 50 percent cure rate, and 6 percent of sufferers will die from the disorders.

Eating disorders develop over time. These illnesses can last anywhere from 5-15 years or more. The longer the duration of the illness, then the greater the chance of death or severe, irreversible medical consequences. Regardless of treatment type, they don’t go away overnight, either. Depending on the severity and length of time a person has had a eating disorder, it may takes months or even years to have a healthy relationship with one’s own body, others and food.

Many people suggest that the single biggest tip is to be aware of your particular triggers. According to Karin R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed The Food and Feelings Workbook, “Triggers will continue to lead to knee-jerk, destructive impulses around food unless you tackle the problem from multiple angles and make different decisions at specific choice points. You will need to stay focused on three areas simultaneously to achieve success: changing your beliefs about triggers, food, and emotions; learning how to identify and handle your feelings effectively; and eliminating acting out with food by developing new self help strategies.

As Koenig explains, “Unless you deal with what’s causing emotional blockages and ruptures, you won’t be able to heal your pain or maintain healthy eating habits.”