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- Representatives are standing by 24/7 to help answer your questions
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- Additional treatment providers are located on our directory or samhsa.gov
Importance of Using Community Resources in Eating Disorder Treatment
Community resources are local people, places, or community services that can help you develop skills after you’re discharged from eating disorder treatment. Use them to diversify your range of support, expression, and natural self-development outlets.
Why Are Community Resources Important?
Eating disorders cause overwhelming and intense emotions and behaviors surrounding food and weight. Those who struggle with eating disorders often hide and disguise symptoms from family and friends.
Amid an eating disorder, people are more than likely to disengage from activities centered around food and eating. Community resources are necessary as they introduce you to typical and new experiences. Break out of your comfort zone through exposure to new routines, engage your talents, and explore previously suppressed social, cultural, and intellectual pursuits.
Examples of Community Resources
Many things can serve as a community resource. If you visit one of these spaces with supportive people, you’ll deepen your toolkit and gain techniques to combat your triggers.
Clothes shops can be a valuable community resource. Shopping often becomes a dreaded and challenging activity for those who struggle with an eating disorder. It is usually difficult to feel good about how clothes fit. These body image issues provoke anxiety and prevent you from feeling comfortable with the clothes you try on.
Online shopping is sometimes recommended for people with eating disorders, but virtual shopping doesn’t allow you to touch or try on your clothes before buying. It’s critical for people with eating disorders to wear clothes that feel comfortable.  A too-tight item could trigger dieting or purging.
Visiting clothing shops with a supportive friend or group can help you see positive things about their appearance.
This is a resource that many people would easily overlook, but because it is specific to managing body-image issues, the venue can help you achieve critical moments of success in your treatment.
Grocery Stores & Food Markets
Food can be seen as an enemy for those with eating disorders, making food shopping very challenging. For example, those who struggle with anorexia and/or restricting behaviors often avoid grocery shopping altogether, ensuring meal restrictions, as there is so little food on hand. Likewise, people with bulimia or a binge eating disorder will try to avoid visiting the grocery store due to the urge to purchase certain binge foods.
During the coronavirus pandemic, people with eating disorders faced severe struggles with shopping, mainly because they couldn’t engage in their typical store rituals.  Some people haven’t recovered from these restrictions.
Taking frequent trips to a grocery store with a supportive group helps you express your feelings to others and determine why it makes you anxious. As a result, you may learn to overcome fears and anxieties the food-buying process may trigger.
As mentioned, those who struggle with eating disorders view food as an enemy. As a result, they often develop significant anxiety surrounding food and eating in public.
Eating at restaurants with supportive people can help you cope with triggering feelings that may come up. Enjoying the company you are with often makes meals more enjoyable. Putting your attention elsewhere (on the people you are with) can help to lessen your food-based fears.
Finding Other Examples of Community Resources
Many other examples of community resources are frequently utilized in eating disorder treatment. These will often vary with the individual’s experience and needs based on their diagnostic history and the desired outcomes of treatment.
Successful eating disorder treatment development often depends on acknowledging and understanding the symptomology of the individual’s case. Treatment works best when paired with community resources to meet your individual needs.
Resources for Eating Disorders
Many of the options we’ve outlined here involve supportive humans. You need someone to accompany you to the store, restaurant, or on an outing. How can you find them? Local community resources for eating disorders may help.
Try these suggestions:
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD): Use this online resource to join a peer support group or the recovery mentorship program.
- National Alliance for Eating Disorders: Use this online resource to find local support group meetings in several states. A virtual option also exists; you could use this tool to ask about people nearby.
- Mental Health America: This organization keeps a robust database of support groups and mental health communities. Find the best group for you, and ask to work with those in your community.
- National Eating Disorders Association: Use this online tool to connect with support groups and a wider recovery community.
- Nextdoor: Use this tool to find people within your neighborhood. While you might not connect specifically in the context of eating disorders, you might build valuable friendships that support you in recovery. You might even find that someone living a few houses down has the same struggles you do.
- An Exploration Into Body Diversity, Shopping and Clothing. (n.d.). Eating Disorders Victoria. Accessed September 2022.
- Asch DA, Allison KC. (2021). The Pandemic Has Deeply Affected Many People With Eating Disorders. Stat. Accessed September 2022.
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 January 25th, 2023
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com