Recovery from eating disorders can be challenging. Doctors will often tell you many things you “should” do. While your doctor may have your best interests at heart, they may not always emphasize the things you should avoid doing as you continue to get better. The following are some tips to consider as you work to recover from your eating disorder.​

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Being self-critical often goes along with many other signs of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, increasing an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.

Don’t Blame Your Family

Although it used to be more commonly believed that parents were a leading cause of disordered eating, the most recent examination shows that dietary problems have complex causes that incorporate hereditary and cultural elements.. No family is perfect. If your family has been unsupportive, they likely don’t know how to be supportive. Talk with your doctor about how to process your relationships to be able to move on as you recover. Many doctors will also encourage family sessions and sometimes use teletherapy or online counseling to include family members who live out of town. 

Don’t Insist That You Can Recover on Your Own

Research shows that people with eating disorders are more likely to recover with a specialized treatment team in place. In most cases, willpower, self-help books, and independent work cannot replace the professional guidance of a therapist, dietitian, and physician. These professionals have years of experience and training to help you on the road to recovery. (Exception: In some cases, especially when there are no available specialists, or you may not be able to afford care, self-help and guided self-help for bulimia and binge eating disorder may be helpful.)

Don’t Put the Needs of Others Above Your Own

Many people prioritize caring for other people above making sure that their own needs are met, sometimes hurting themselves in the process. This can be especially true when you are friends with someone who also has an eating disorder. While you want to help, their stories can be triggering and/or emotionally draining. Make sure that you take care of yourself first and determine how much of yourself you can truly give to others by setting appropriate boundaries.

Don’t Believe You Aren’t Worth the Cost

Eating disorder treatment and recovery from an eating disorder can be expensive and time-consuming. Try not to get caught up in thinking that you are not worth the financial commitment that treatment may require. If money is an issue, talk openly with your treatment providers about it. There are often ways to get treatment that is less expensive.

Don’t Lose Hope

Eating disorders are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. But they are treatable, and full recovery is possible. When you begin to lose hope, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Work to stay positive and talk to your therapist anytime you find you are struggling emotionally.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Hopefully, you have a wonderful treatment team in place that you can call for help and support, no questions asked. But are you also including your family and friends and giving them a chance to support you in recovery? Asking for help can be a daily process and may require you to ask for specific things (such as support during meals) that they can help you with.

Don’t Be Impatient With Recovery

Full recovery can take years and for many, it’s not easy. Many people struggle with slips and relapses as well. Have faith in the recovery process and check in with your treatment team if you aren’t making the progress that you had hoped for.

Do Listen to Your Treatment Team

Your treatment team should be composed of professionals who have years of training and experience with eating disorders. Listen to them when they recommend specific changes, even when it might seem scary to you. Changes such as adding medication, adopting a meal plan, or considering a higher level of care can be important and necessary changes to your treatment plan.

A Word From Experts

An eating disorder is a complex mental illness that requires professional care. While there is certainly helpful reading material out there, it can’t replace the care of a qualified treatment team. Always consult with your providers before making any changes to your treatment plan.