Eating Disorders: What to Expect in Each Stage of Recovery

There are five distinct stages of recovery from eating disorders. It can be scary going through these necessary changes, but knowledge is power. Knowing what to expect can help you get through it.

Pre-contemplation

In this stage, you are still firmly rooted in denial about your disorder. You may reach a point at which you have to admit that something is wrong, though.

Don't be afraid to educate yourself.

Do your research and be open to understanding what is going on with your body and mind.

Contemplation

During this stage, you're finally ready to admit you have a problem. Still, the idea of recovering from this disorder may be very scary—you may even worry about giving up control. These fears are normal but try to think of recovery as getting control over your life back.

Don't keep your eating disorder a secret anymore.

Do ask for help and seek out support.

Preparation

At this stage, you're ready for change. You've sought help, and you should be working with a health care team to assess what the best treatment options will be. Again, this can be a scary time because you are uncertain about what is to come, but now you have a support system in place.

Don't keep your feelings bottled up or assume you can handle this all on your own.

Do work with your health care providers to develop coping skills for when you get scared, stressed, or overwhelmed.

Action

At this stage, you may still be feeling wary but more open to change. You're beginning to implement a treatment plan, so it's time to prepare for the ups and downs ahead. It can be a rough road, especially in the beginning.

Don't be impatient; things will get better; it just takes time.

Do follow your treatment plan and keep in close communication with your providers and support group.

Maintenance

This is a time to be proud of yourself; you've been working for months to make positive changes, and you've seen good results. You're feeling physically healthier and are getting better at handling the emotional struggles. It's time to set some new goals in your life, such as learning a new skill and getting involved in social activities. It's also time to keep using those new coping mechanisms and embracing your new, healthier habits.

Don't be afraid to seek help if things get hard for you again; it's a process.

Do remember that you are worth it; love yourself and take care of yourself.

Sources: Very Well Mind, Walden Eating Disorders, National Eating Disorders Association

Photo: Pexels

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