How Long Must I Be in Recovery to See a Reversal of Side Effects?

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Eating disorders are not diseases of vanity, contrary to popular belief. They are not about achieving a certain look or pant size – a far cry from this in fact. Eating disorders are deadly psychiatric illnesses that result in devastating consequences if left without professional treatment and interventions.

A person suffering with an eating disorder is impacted in multiple ways, including physically, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, and more. The physical effects alone of an eating disorder are debilitating and require significant treatment to allow the body to heal and recover. Healing is also not possible without a cessation of eating disorder behaviors, which is also guided by professional treatment.

Beginning the Healing Process

Once a person begins the recovery process and refrains from engaging in recurring eating disorder behaviors, the body can then begin healing. This is often a tedious part of the journey for many eating disorder sufferers, particularly if they are feeling uncomfortable in their body.

For example, gastrointestinal distress and digestive issues are a common side effect from eating disorder behaviors, such as binging, purging, and restricting. Even once these behaviors have stopped, it takes the body some time to recover and a significant period of normalized eating for the digestive system to stabilize.

Depending on the side effects and the severity of the illness, some conditions may take longer to recover from than others. An ability to heal also is dependent on many other factors, such as the individual, their medical history, the presence of any other possible co-occurring factors, family history, and so forth.

Side effects that are more life threatening may be treated more aggressively with medical interventions and therefore resolve the issue quicker. Other side effects that may have resulted from malnutrition may take longer to recover from, as re-feeding can often be a slow and gradual process.

Staying the Course

If you are recovering from an eating disorder, you are likely anxious to start feeling better and to feel well in your body once again. Work with your treatment to have a clearer understanding of what treatment might involve for you, and be sure to stay the course, even if you do not see progress being made. Step by step, you will restore your health and wellness while dedicated to your recovery.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What aspects of recovery make it difficult for the long term?


Crystal Karges photo

About 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 Special Projects Coordinator 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.


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 July 25, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com

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.