Establishing a Long Term Support System in Eating Disorder Recovery

Support Relationships holding hands

Recovering from an eating disorder is an ongoing process, one that must occur through a lifetime.

While many individuals who are suffering with an eating disorder, along with their loved ones, would likely much rather prefer that they reach a point where they are “recovered” and can move on with life. However, when it comes to eating disorders, this looks much different than one might expect.

A person may be recovered in the sense of physical symptoms and behaviors; there may no longer be active engaging in eating disorder behaviors, like binging, purging, restriction, excessive exercise, etc.

Understanding the Complexities of Eating Disorders

Womens support handsEven with remission of eating disorder behaviors, this does not necessarily mean that the eating disorder has gone away. Because eating disorders are brain based illnesses, there is the mental component related to eating disorders influenced by biological factors that will not necessarily be “cured”. For this reason, recovery must be a proactive journey, one that stays connected to necessary resources for long term recovery and healing.

Eating disorder relapses are also not uncommon, and considering the possibility of a relapse is not necessarily anticipating “failure” but rather planning for realistic possibilities.

Relapses contribute to the complexity of eating disorders, as some individuals may be triggered months or years after being in recovery, regressing into eating disorder behaviors and patterns. Establishing a solid foundation of support can be a crucial part of maintaining recovery from an eating disorder for the long term.

How to Build a Long Term Support System

It may seem difficult to rally a support system of individuals who understand your journey and who will be with you through the long term, but this is an essential part of recovery. Think about the people in your life who have been with you, perhaps through treatment or through the various circumstances around your eating disorder and recovery. Who can you constantly rely on as a confidant, a person to share your struggles and victories?

Even if you have not been able to build these immediate connections through your immediate family and circle of friends, there are many other ways to build a support system. This might include an eating disorder support group, where you can meet with other individuals who can understand and relate to what you may be dealing with. Whatever your situation may be, know that support can be found and built, sometimes slowly over time, and by learning on those who you love and trust, you can support your efforts for recovery.


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’s 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 in 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.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 3, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com