Getting Back on Track After Suffering a Relapse in Binge Eating Disorder

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

The experience of a relapse episode while in recovery from binge eating disorder can be despairingly overwhelming. Waking up in blur only to be left with the evidence that a binge has just occurred: empty wrappers strewn about the room, trash and dishes that have cumulated in various parts of the house, crumbs from countless snacks, empty containers, and feeling disheveled and ashamed at the sight of the aftermath.

Binge eating disorder is a serious psychiatric condition, an eating disorder that affects countless of individuals across the world. While this situation is not uncommon for the people who struggle with binge eating, seeking out appropriate help for recovery can be challenging and difficult.

Understanding a Relapse Experience

A relapse can be described as a “setback” or re-engagement in eating disorder behaviors after a period of improvement or recovery. In the case of binge eating disorder, a person may experience a relapse after a significant duration of time that has essentially been free of binging episodes.

Engaging in binging behaviors after being in recovery can feel disheartening, causing an individual to feel as though they have failed, or their recovery efforts futile.

While a binge episode can feel very much like a decline backwards into the eating disorder abyss, it is important to understand how to pull yourself back on the path towards recovery.

For the many people who struggle with binge eating disorder, these behaviors have essentially become engrained in one’s being, becoming the default coping mechanism for dealing with life’s hardships.

In light of this, suffering a relapse episode should be viewed more like a cry for help and a need for greater support rather than lack of strength or failure.

Getting Back on Track

If you are recovering from binge eating disorder and have suffered through a relapse episode, know that you have the resources and tools available for getting back on track. Perhaps the most important thing is to reach out for help immediately and to not internalize the shame and discouragement you are likely feeling.

Family getting back on track after binge eating disorder relapseRe-connect with your therapist, counselor, dietitian, or a trusted individual who has supported you along your journey. Prevent a snowball effect back into your eating disorder behaviors by doing the next best thing for yourself in that situation.

Identifying what you might be needing in the moment can be helpful as well:

  • Are you in need of self-care
  • A time of rest and relaxation
  • A way to decompress from a stressful situation
  • Connection with others

Tending to your emotional needs in a therapeutic sense will be incredibly important as you move forward from a binge episode.

Above all, know that a relapse does not equivocate to failure. Slowly pick up the pieces, reach out for support, and get back on track towards your recovery, one step at a time.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What can be the most challenging aspects of recovering from a relapse episode?

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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 8, 2016
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