Helpful Attitudes to get the Most out of Eating Disorder Treatment


The opportunity to receive eating disorder treatment has the potential to drastically improve someone’s quality of life. Getting treatment is a chance to heal from dangerous medical and psychological symptoms, create normal eating patterns, and challenge disordered thoughts and behaviors with professional support.

However, someone’s attitude or mindset about eating disorder treatment can influence how much they benefit from it [1]. This means that the way someone approaches treatment can impact the outcome of the treatment experience.

Here are three helpful attitudes to get the most out of eating disorder treatment:

Being Open to Change

Being open to change disordered behavior is necessary for recovery [1]. People are able to recover more quickly if they are open to acknowledging that some of their thoughts and behaviors are a result of an eating disorder [1].

For example, being willing to admit that the intense fear of gaining weight is a result of disordered beliefs can make it easier to change. This is because being aware of the negative beliefs allows someone to replace them with healthier ways of thinking [1].

Simply put, if you don’t admit there’s a problem, you can’t change the problem.

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude directly impacts motivation, mood, and well-being [2]. Gratitude is when someone acknowledges something positive and feels appreciation for it. For example, appreciating that someone else did the dishes. Gratitude can also be for something more general, such as feeling grateful for family, access to clean water, or shelter.

A grateful attitude can be helpful during eating disorder recovery because it impacts motivation. Treatment can be difficult. Practicing gratitude can help to sustain motivation throughout the treatment process [2].

There are three ways to practice gratitude while in treatment. The first way is to recognize any accomplished goals or improvement, no matter how small it may seem. For example, for some people with eating disorders, it can be very stressful to eat in front of other people.

Maybe on their first day of treatment, they weren’t able to eat with others. But at the end of the week, they were able to. This is an improvement and deserves celebration. Recognizing this as a victory is a way to practice gratitude for the positive changes during recovery.

The second way is to recognize the benefits of recovery. For example, maybe energy levels or sleep quality has improved. Seeing the positive changes can be a powerful source of motivation.

Multiethnic Group of Teenagers in Eating Disorder TreatmentThe third way to implement a gratitude practice is to recognize the support others provide. This could be family, friends, treatment professionals, or peers in treatment. Expressing gratitude for others’ support is a powerful way to increase mood and sense of satisfaction in treatment.

Having Hope for Recovery

Believing that treatment can help is an important part of any treatment process. It is difficult to create just one definition for recovery. This is because recovery will look different for everybody, just as an eating disorder looks different in different people.

Regardless of what someone’s personal definition of recovery is, research has shown that being hopeful significantly increases the potential for recovery [3]. Hope is the belief that someone has the power to change or that something positive can happen. This belief can give someone the energy and strength to go through the treatment process.

While eating disorder treatment is rewarding and beneficial, it can be challenging at times. However, approaching treatment with an open, grateful, and hopeful attitude can help sustain motivation through the journey. Sticking to this process can help you or your loved one get the most out of their treatment.


[1] Lamoureux, M.M & Bottorff, J.L. (2005) “Becoming the Real Me”: Recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, Health Care for Women International, 26(2), 170-188, DOI: 10.1080/07399330590905602

[2] Armenta, C.N., Fritz, M.M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2017). Functions of Positive Emotions: Gratitude as a Motivator of Self-Improvement and Positive Change. Emotion Review, 9(3), 183-190. DOI: 10.1177/

[3] M Morgan, C. L. (2019). Dimensions of diversity in sustained eating disorder recovery in females: A study of the predictive power of hope, resilience, and spirituality (Order No. AAI10841781). Available from APA PsycInfo®. (2140743013; 2018-52509-032). Retrieved from

About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a 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 July 15, 2020, on
Reviewed & Approved on July 15, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.