Life After an Eating Disorder: What to Expect in Recovery

Girl Developing an Eating Disorder

As the subject of many debates today, it is difficult to understand and define exactly what is recovery from an disorder.

Is it truly possibly to be fully recovered from an eating disorder, and if so, what does this look like?

How can you manage relapse and is it possible to get back on track if you do end up falling back into eating disorder patterns and behaviors?

Asking these questions about recovery is common, and while the answers are different for everyone, it is important to know that your journey is unique to you.

Understanding Long Term Recovery

It is often said that life is about the journey and not the destination, and this is also true for the recovery process from an eating disorder. There is not necessarily an “arrival point” with recovery, as the journey of recovery itself is life-transforming. You will find yourself challenged in many unexpected ways and surprised in others.

The acuity of your symptoms will hopefully resolve as you transition from higher levels of treatment and toward being able to take care of yourself once more. The length of time it may take to transition through treatment is variable, and the risk of relapse is highest during the first four to twelve months after treatment ends [1].

The pieces of your life will slowly start to come back into picture. For example, you may have had to drop out of school, leave a job, moving across the country, or change careers as a result of needing treatment for an eating disorder.

Recovery means rebuilding your life on a new foundation that is not taken over by the eating disorder itself. While there is a desire and want to have things “go back” to the way they were before you began your recovery journey, this is not always realistic. It may have been your previous environment that served as a trigger to your eating disorder, and going back to what once was may not be beneficial.

Girl lookinb behind herGiving Yourself Grace and Time

As with any other disease or physical illness, you would give yourself time to heal and recover – right? Yet mental illness is treated differently, but as a result, there is not ample opportunity for full healing.

Know that you will face obstacles, challenges in different forms, and constant ups and downs as you go through life. Wherever you may find yourself, always make decisions that support and uphold your commitment to recovery because your life depends on it!


Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: 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, Crystal serves as the Director of Content and Social Media for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

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


[1]: Eating Disorders Review, Tackling Relapse Among Anorexia Nervosa Patients, 2013; 24:1

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 By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 4, 2017
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