The Pro-Recovery Movement: Its Usefulness as a Tool for Eating Disorder Professionals

As an eating disorder professional and advocate for recovery, you have likely encountered the various obstacles your patients/clients have faced in their own recovery journey.  The opposition towards recovery can take many forms, including internal and external forces alike that fuel the eating disorder nature. This is why the Pro-Recovery Movement is a good tool for eating disorder professionals.

Group working with Pro-Recovery Movement as Tool for Eating Disorder ProfessionalsIndividuals fighting for their lives and seeking freedom from an eating disorder will face many unexpected challenges.  As an eating disorder specialist, understanding what these challenges involve can better prepare you in your professional interactions, improving the effectiveness of the support and tools offered to your patient in their recovery.

One of the strongest opposing forces to eating disorder recovery comes from the internet and “pro-eating disorder” communities.  Otherwise known as “pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) and “pro-mia” ( pro-bulimia), these movements have proliferated rapidly in cyberspace, appearing in various blogs, website, forums, and more with a 470% increase in pro-ana/pro-mia sites from 2006 to 2007 [1].

The potential damage of these dangerous movements to eating disorder recovery should not be underestimated.  Research has demonstrated that women who view pro-ana sites experience an increase in negative influence and decrease in self-esteem, perceived attractiveness, and appearance [2].  With greater accessibility to the internet and widespread use of social media sites, individuals are constantly exposed to a wide variety of material that is counter-productive to eating disorder recovery.

In response to this force of darkness that so negatively influences eating disorder sufferers, Eating Disorder Hope has created the Pro-Recovery Movement.  As an effort to promote online health, hope and healing in the eating disorder community, the Pro-Recovery movement is designed to be a light of inspiration to eating disorder sufferers at all levels with kind words, compassion, acceptance and understanding.

In contrast to the Pro-Ana communities that embolden the stronghold of an eating disorder, the Pro-Recovery Movement empowers individuals in their recovery by encouraging self-acceptance, positive body image and healing connections with others.

Community of eating disorder sufferersWith eating disorder sufferers today facing increased online opposition to recovery, having resources that reinforce and sustain their efforts towards healing is essential.  Contributing to a supportive community can create a positive impact for individuals recovering from an eating disorder, especially as eating disorders thrive in isolation and shame.

As a tool for eating disorder professionals, you have the ability to suggest eating disorder recovery tools and resources that will encourage your patient to flourish and overcome the many obstacles they might face in their journey.  The Pro-Recovery Movement can serve as an important aspect of an individual’s recovery, as they are encouraged to become part of a group who celebrate life, hope, and healing and commits to promoting these values in their social media posts.

The opposition against recovery may run rampant, but the hope that is recovery outshines any hindering darkness.


[1]: 2008 International Internet Trends Study, Optenet, 2008-09-24, retrieved 2013-12-18

[2]:  Bardone-Cone, A M; Cass, K M (2007), “What does viewing a pro-anorexia website do? An experimental examination of website exposure and moderating effects”, International Journal of Eating Disorders 40 (6): 537–548, doi:10.1002/eat.20396

About the authors:

Jacquelyn Ekern

Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC – President and Founder of Eating Disorder Hope

Jacquelyn founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website. In addition, she is a fully licensed therapist with a closed private counseling practice specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Jacquelyn has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix and a Masters degree in Counseling/Psychology, from Capella University. She has extensive experience in the eating disorder field including advanced education in psychology, participation and contributions to additional eating disorder groups, symposiums, and professional associations. She is a member of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp).

Jacquelyn enjoys art, working out, walking her golden retriever “Whisky”, reading, painting and time with family.
Although Eating Disorder Hope was founded by Jacquelyn Ekern, this organization would not be possible without support from our generous sponsors.

Crystal Headshot 2Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC

Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing,

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed And Updated By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 19, 2019.
Published December 30, 2013, on