10 Ways to Keep Hope Alive in Recovery from Anorexia Nervosa

Woman struggling with anorexia in the winter

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “the most important word in the English language is hope” [1].

How powerful hope can be! Hope the ability to connect us all to each other around a common cause. We find hope in many places, people and events.

David Speigel researched the use of support group therapy and its effectiveness in women with metastatic breast cancer. He found that it prolonged lives up to 18 months [1].

Hope is extremely powerful in groups, in relationships, and when gathering with others who share similar experiences and life events.

Groups that Foster Hope

Eating Disorder Recovery Groups are cathartic, healing, and a source of connection and hope for many. In those with anorexia nervosa, it can be a lifeline to many who are working recovery in their everyday life.

Being involved in a group focused on anorexia, bulimia or bing eating disorder that supports success, aids in problem-solving and offers support in setbacks can spread hope like wildfire.

Hope can help instill inspiration and motivation, but it cannot keep eating disorders, mental illness or diseases away.  We strengthen our hope when we fight through the moments of wanting to give up, but continue to press on in our eating disorder recovery journey.

We share hope with others when they observe our ongoing tenacity and commitment to recovery, despite setbacks.

Look For Hope

You have to search for hope to find it. Too often people get caught up in negative stories in the news, or with treatment companions.

When you start to obsessively focus on the negative or what is not ‘going right’ in the eating disorder recovery process, you can start to extinquish the hope that is innately within us.

Look for the small successes, the small moments of connection, and the quiet times you listen to your true self. These are seeds of hope and healing.


Giving to others is a hope-filled activity. When you give to others, it draws you out of yourself and into the lives of others. It can be volunteering through a local agency or holding a food or toiletries drive for a local group or homeless shelter.

It can be connecting with your church to see what opportunities they have for you to be involved. Being able to help others and connect with your community helps build up positive self-esteem and self-worth which is essential in the recovery process.

Build a Fortress

Build a solid support group of individuals who love and care for you unconditionally. Let go of those individuals or groups that are toxic or enabling your eating disorder to continue.

Knowing you have a cheerleading section behind you as you move forward and when you slip is significant for keeping hope alive in your recovery process.

Keep Track of Your Successes

Reflect on how far you have come in your recovery from disordered eating behaviors!  You may have a greater gains to make but celebrate every positive step forward in building a healthy body image, self-esteem and lifestyle.

Self-Care is a Priority

What type of self-care activities do you engage in to keep your recovery on track?

Woman in hat

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and being present in your everyday life can help you connect from the inside out.

Focusing inward allows you to sense and feel what is going on in your body, the messages you are receiving, and what you are going to do or how will you respond to those important cues from your body.

Journaling, painting, writing poetry, talking with a friend, or just being able to listen to some of your favorite music can help you process what your mind and body are saying.

Get a Treatment Team

Treatment teams are crucial to creating hope! These trained professionals can help you find and keep hope. They can also revive your hope when you feel discouraged.

The act of showing up to therapy or nutritional appointments signifies a small part of you has hope.  Your hope and recovery commitment is strengthened each time you demonstrate the discipline of attending eating disorder treatment team appointments.

Choose your treatment team wisely and learn to trust in them. Trust in the recovery processes.

Look in the Mirror

Write messages of love, hope, healing on your mirrors. Being able to look at that instead of listening to your eating disorder voice will inspire you.

Your wise inner voice is stronger than the anorexia voice within.  You have the inner ability to heal and recover.


Forgiveness is powerful. It is important in being able to recover.   Forgive yourself, forgive others, and get on with the business of living a fulfilling, beautiful life.

Examples may be forgiving yourself for a recent restrictive eating setback or forgiving someone who made a rude or inappropriate comment about your eating disorder. Forgiveness is learning self-compassion within yourself and toward others.


Laugh at yourself and others. Watch a funny movie, or keep comics close to read.

Woman near the lake

Laughing allows you to remember to have fun. Too often the eating disorder voice is all doom and gloom.

Laughing reminds us that we are alive, that we are connected in this world, and that we are able to enjoy the small and big moments we experience.

Hope is wonderful!  Through hope, you can recover. Through hope, you can inspire. Through hope, you can heal.



Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.

Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1] Reflections on Hope & Recovery. (n.d.). Retrieved September 06, 2017, from http://nedic.ca/reflections-hope-recovery

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.

Published on December 6, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 6, 2017.
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com