Eating Disorder Recovery Tips & Self-Help

Eating disorder recovery does not always occur when you are with a therapist or in a treatment program. The strains and stresses from eating disorders affect everyone around the clock.

It is those moments when you don’t have an eating disorder specialist or counselor in front of you that are some of the most critical. Eating Disorder Hope has compiled a resource for eating disorder tips and self-help: emotional management, mentoring resources, coping skills, and other recovery advice to help you through an eating disorder.

Talking About Eating Disorders

  • Eating disorder recovery often transitions through different phases.  This can include the transition through different levels of care and even the experience of relapse.  Having the tools and resources you need for your journey can help you maintain your recovery from an eating disorder, even through transitional phases.  Learn more about how to successfully progress through eating disorder recovery.
  • Discussing any sensitive situation with your parents is quite difficult. Attempting to speak with them about a sensitive topic such as an eating disorder that can kill you is even more difficult. However, do not forget that your parents love you, and they want you to be safe and healthy. Do not fall into the misguided belief that you can handle binge eating, anorexia or bulimia on your own. You need help and two of the most important people that can help you get through the eating disorder disease are your parents.
  • Few things are more painful than watching a friend suffer in silence with an eating disorder without acknowledging it. We’ve written a short help guide that gives some tips on how to speak to your friend about his or her eating disorder.

Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26)
Take the EAT-26

The EAT-26 is the most widely cited standardized self-report screening measure that may be able to help you determine if you have an eating disorder that needs professional attention. The EAT-26 is not designed to make a diagnosis of an eating disorder or to take the place of a professional diagnosis or consultation. The EAT-26 is free to users ( Take the EAT-26 now and get immediate and anonymous feedback:

Garner et al. (1982). The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychological Medicine, 12, 871-878.
Garner & Garfinkel. (1979). The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychological Medicine, 12, 871-878

Articles for the Holidays

  • Support groups can provide great to those in recovery from mental health issues, substance abuse, grief, and more. They can be especially helpful for those in recovery from an eating disorder during the holidays when seasonal stressors might make past disordered thoughts and behaviors creep back up.
  • Whether you find the holiday season torturous or joyful, you may experience higher than normal urges to use your eating disorder behaviors. Let’s explore some ways to cope with the unusual stresses of November and December.
  • When going through a divorce, disordered eating provides a false sense of comfort that can be tempting for those working toward recovery or even those with years of recovery under their belt. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of eating disorders during divorce and ways to mitigate triggers throughout the holiday season.
  • We have many opportunities during the holidays to turn the world’s focus, even briefly, from buying, baking, and the bustle to eating disorders. Awareness fosters prevention, early intervention, and hopefully one day, eradication of this insidious illness. We can simultaneously tackle the big and little pictures of eating disorder awareness by what we do, say, and buy.
  • Kwanzaa is a time of celebration, with an emphasis on community. However, it can be challenging to maintain recovery during the holiday season, which is full of potential triggers and temptations. Like many other holidays that take place during this time of year, the sixth night of Kwanzaa is centered on food and food-related festivities. Those in recovery from eating disorders can join in these events with an awareness of triggers and commitment to their existing treatment plans.
  • Stick to your food plan—that’s why it is there. Decide in advance what holiday treats you really like, then eat them intentionally and enjoy them. Stay in touch with support groups that you are involved with and other therapy-related professionals on your team; this is no time to “go it alone.”
  • Having a person who is familiar with your eating disorder struggles and you are able to connect with regularly can be a significant help through the holidays. There are a wide variety of people who may be helpful as a mentor, and if you do not have someone who plays this role in your life there are several qualities to consider as you seek someone to have such a connection with.
  • Watching your own child suffer is simply agonizing, but you don’t have to play worst-case scenario this Christmas. Yes, the holidays can be stressful for someone recovering from an eating disorder. There’s more food, friends, and family but less structure during the holidays. This doesn’t mean your child will relapse. In fact, the holidays may be a joyful time for your son or daughter. All the friends and family may serve as greater support.
  • If you have the responsibility to plan a holiday event but have the greater responsibility to maintain your recovery, keep it simple. Plan a simple event while simply following your recovery guidelines. And remember recovery is far more important than even the most important holiday event.
  • The holidays are probably not the time someone wants to intensify treatment for an eating disorder – but it’s when some people should. The stretch from Halloween to New Year’s Day is challenging for many with or recovering from an eating disorder. The season hails hectic shopping, holiday travel, busy social schedules, and family functions colored by family dynamics – and it’s all laced with holiday food and goodies.
  • Job loss and unemployment is one of the most stressful things you can experience at any time of the year, but it’s especially troubling during the holidays. If you or a family member loses a job around this time, you need to weather the worries so stress doesn’t compromise your recovery.
  • Unfortunately, due to the unexpected nature of life we are not taught what the appropriate ways to alleviate unexpected high levels of stress, sadness, and anger are; therefore, eating disorders are frequently developed and used as maladaptive coping skills to deal with unwanted and uncomfortable emotions such as grief over the holidays.
  • Those struggling with an eating disorder face further obstacles and challenges with festivities being based around food events. Being in treatment during the holidays can help provide structure, accountability, and support to stay the course of recovery.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of the holidays includes the presence of lots of festive food. Patients diagnosed with eating disorders tend to feel overwhelmed and fearful of the highly calorically dense foods that are common at parties and holiday gatherings. They also find it difficult to eat around other people which often leads to depression.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, put on your seat belt and cling to your pocketbook, we’re heading straight for Thanksgiving and right into Christmas. The holiday traffic of families, friends, and other social duties is almost inevitable, but you can control finances to reduce stress and support your recovery. Holidays are a time for us to step back from the busyness and appreciate our lives free from an eating disorder.
  • Holidays for many of us are a time of celebration, loved ones, and joy. For an individual struggling with an eating disorder, this season may actually be a time of intense anxiety, as well as struggles with healthy and intentional eating.
  • The holidays are more overwhelming and anxiety-provoking than blissful, and for those who have been in recovery from any type of mental health or substance abuse issue, all the stress can be a recipe for relapse. If you have suffered from one disorder, you know that sustaining recovery can be a challenge in these fraught situations.
  • You can still have a joyful and happy holiday even if you are fighting an eating disorder. The time spent around friends and family can give you the support you need to begin healing from the ED. Know that you are worth a life free from eating disorders.
  • Gratitude and thankfulness play important roles in an eating disorder recovery. Showing gratitude help alleviate the numbness that comes with the eating disorder struggle. it is important to concentrate on what you do have and not on what you do not have. Being gracious and showing gratitude helps to take the focus off you and onto someone else or something else. This helps the eating disorder sufferer to be more positive which can be influential in changing the eating disordered life.
  • The celebratory drop of the New Year’s Eve ball marks the end of a year and the beginning of new experiences and opportunities.  For many individuals, January 1st serves as an opportunity to establish resolutions and various ways of improving one’s life.  While such intentions may appear innocuous to some, for individuals struggling with an eating disorder this seemingly simple tradition can transform into an overwhelming, competition for success, quantified by numbers on a scale. The after-holiday onslaught of advertisements popularizing physical improvements and externally-related goals only exacerbates the challenge of establishing resolutions that focus on something other than physical appearance.
  • Coping Tips for Getting Through the Holidays – For many people around the country, November 22, 2012, signaled the beginning of the holiday season.  However, Thanksgiving only marks the start of the onslaught of holiday celebrations.
  • Eating Disorder Challenges During the Holidays – In the US, up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorders [1].  For those who struggle with an eating disorder, or strive to recover from one, the holidays can be a challenging time. The celebrations really start on October 31 with Halloween and basically draw to an end at the beginning of January with the ringing in of a new year.
  • Although holidays conjure up mostly pleasant memories of family, friends, gift-giving, and get-togethers around the dinner table, for some of us the holiday season is anything but that. For those struggling with the tyranny of an eating disorder these times are, to say the least, challenging.
  • All your life you’ve heard the expression “It’s never too late.” You need to believe that now. The New Year brings about a time of reflection and also goal setting. Achieving a life of health and balance is within your reach. For those struggling with disordered eating, now is the time to begin your journey.
  • If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder or in recovery, a meaningful twist on our Renfrew tradition is giving similar metaphorical gifts to yourself or anyone you are supporting on each night of Hanukkah. This activity is beneficial in two different ways.
  • The holiday season is now in full swing which means many gatherings involving substantial meals. Cue the ham and turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and rolls! Individuals with eating disorders may not know how to cope during this time. There’s a lot of pressure and stress from family members, emotions and unhealthy food options. One aspect that will help in healthy holiday habits is mindfulness.

Group of Friends getting Eating Disorder Recovery

Key Eating Disorder Recovery Articles

  • Making the decision to save your life and seek treatment for an eating disorder is only the first step. There are many more hurdles to overcome. One of the most daunting challenges is finding a way to pay for treatment. There are several financial options available, but you have to dig deep to uncover the resources available.
  • The journey to an eating disorder recovery is long road to travel. It takes a lifelong commitment and dedication to the process. There are several key stages that are important in the recovery process, but over time, these phases will vary depending on where you are in your journey.
  • How to re-establish your identity and personality while in eating disorder recovery to find the “true you” in this article. Recovery from an eating disorder involves far more than establishing a healthy relationship with food. It requires breaking old habits and learning new skills to cope with the ups and downs of life. It takes strength, dedication and patience to face the inevitable challenges. Additionally, it takes a real commitment to rediscovering oneself.
  • Top 10 Tips for Eating Disorder Recovery – Discover these top ten tips for promoting a successful recovery.
  • Utilizing 12 Step Principles in the Treatment of Eating Disorders – If you have been researching various treatment methods for eating disorders and/or addiction, you may have come across the 12-step program. The principles outlined in this program can be profoundly helpful in the recovery process for eating disorders, especially when combined with other forms of therapy. Examples of some of the values included in this program are honesty, hope, and reconnecting to self and others. Read this article to learn more about how the guiding principles in the 12-step recovery can be a powerful tool towards healing and recovery.
  • Setting Reasonable Goals for Eating Disorder Recovery – Learn about ways to set practical and achievable goals for yourself to help in attaining long-term success for your recovery.

Happy Successful Woman against Sunset getting Eating Disorder Recovery

Articles on Self-Soothing

Articles on Managing Emotions

  • Trauma, Grief and Eating Disorders – People deal with grief and trauma differently, but often, people will use food to help comfort their pain or exert some sort of control over raging feelings. By not employing proven coping skills and using food as a distraction, it can lead to an eating disorder.
  • Eating Disorders: Accepting the Pain of the Past – Learn about the importance of discovering, accepting, and healing from the underlying pain associated with eating disorders.
  • Eating Disorder Recovery and Overcoming Negative Thoughts – Changing your thought process is instrumental to recovering from an eating disorder. Learn about the common thinking errors observed in eating disordered behaviors.
  • Artistic Expression & Eating Disorder Recovery – Learn how deep feelings can be expressed through various artistic forms, such as dance, music, and film.
  • Eating Disorder Recovery Tools – Feelings – Acknowledging and understanding our emotions and feelings is crucial to an overall well-being. Read this article to learn more about this important subject.
  • The Importance of Emotional Expression – Expressing emotions constructively and through healthy avenues is necessary and important in recovery. Learn more about this topic in this helpful article.
  • Feelings are Important – Choosing to ignore or push aside deep feelings and emotions can be detrimental to overall health and well-being. Learn about the power of acknowledging and appreciating feelings in this encouraging article.
  • Strength Lies in Talking About it – Eating Disorders are complex diseases rooted in secrecy. Learning to reach out, ask for support, and talk about struggles is fundamental is drawing strength for recovery. Learn more by reading this article.
  • Eating Disorder Mindset – Eating Disorders are usually driven by an unhealthy internal dialogue. Thought restructuring skills are essential to recovery. Discover more about this by reading these articles.

Teacher Mentoring Student

Page Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 9, 2021
Published on, Resources for Eating Disorder Information and Treatment