Eating disorder treatment and recovery can be difficult. Recovering from an eating disorder is more than changing behaviors. While behavior modification is a crucial part of the process, recovery often entails changing the way you think and feel about food and your body, especially if you’re going through eating disorder recovery while living with family.
Depending on how severe someone’s eating disorder is, they may require more intensive care. Intensive levels-of-care such as partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient are typically several hours a day, multiple times a week. If someone is a college student or working, this can make it difficult for them to attend treatment and fulfill their academic and professional responsibilities.
For this reason, some people may move home with their parents or other family members during the recovery process. This reality may be a barrier for some people. Here are some common reasons why moving back home during eating disorder treatment and recovery can be difficult:
Shame & Guilt
For some, moving back home can lead to feeling ashamed or guilty. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to prioritize your physical and mental health. Choosing recovery is a long-term investment in yourself. There’s nothing bad about choosing your health.
If guilt or shame is getting in the way of allowing yourself to move back home so you can get treatment, then practice some self-compassion. It can be helpful to imagine your friend or loved one being in the same situation . Would you judge them as harshly? Give yourself this same grace.
Family Relationships Can Be Stressful
Moving back home with family can be triggering for some. Sometimes eating disorders are a way to cope with emotional stress. Though families are often our best source of support, they can be a source of stress depending on what your relationship is like with them. If this is true for you, it can be helpful to think about how you will cope with these stressors.
Some eating disorder treatment programs offer family therapy. Family therapy can be an opportunity to work through these issues. This can make eating disorder treatment easier while living at home and help protect your recovery in the long run.
It can also be stressful to live at home if your family members make triggering comments. Americans are flooded with information about dieting, appearance, and exercise. These topics can cause anxiety for people with eating disorders.
Unless your family knows about what topics make you anxious, it’s likely that they’ll talk about these things and not know how it impacts you. It’s important to communicate with your family what topics you would prefer for them to avoid.
Family May Not Know How to Support Your Eating Disorder Recovery
Living with family during the treatment and recovery process can be difficult if your family members don’t know how to support you or they don’t understand eating disorders. Some treatment programs offer education to family members about these mental health conditions.
Family therapy is also a space for family members to learn about your unique struggles and how to help you. It may seem scary to share these things with people close to you, but it can help your recovery. Building up your support system can only be a good thing.
If you can turn to your family for support instead of coping with an eating disorder, that could benefit you in a big way. Who wouldn’t want that?
Resources: Saffi Biasetti, A. (2018). Befriending your body. Shambhala Boulder.  Costin, C. & Schubert-Grabb, G. (2012). 8 keys to recovery from an eating disorder. W.W. Norton & Company.
About the Author:
Samantha 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 April 9, 2021, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on April 9, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC