Eating Disorder Recovery: Dealing with Setbacks


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It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in eating disorder recovery for two weeks, two years, or two decades: setbacks are always a possibility.  Your symptoms may not dictate your daily life anymore but it takes ongoing work to keep those false beliefs at bay. Eating disorder recovery is a lifelong process that requires commitment. Dealing with setbacks in eating disorder recovery is not necessarily a matter of if but when. Since they are an inevitable part of the recovery process, the best approach is to prepare yourself before they arrive. You’ll have an easier time working through them when you’re ready for them instead of them catching you off guard. How can you prepare yourself to deal with setbacks when they come?

Possible Setbacks in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating is a necessary part of living and overcoming a condition that hijacks such a central part of life is a challenge. Many different setbacks may arise during eating disorder recovery. What are some things you may have to face?
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Pressure at social events
  • Neglecting self-care
  • Relapse
There are plenty of triggering experiences that may cause a setback in your recovery. Some you can bounce back from quickly but others may take more time for you to recuperate. No setback is too big to deal with, though, so long as you’re prepared to handle them when they come.

Dealing With Setbacks When They Come

The setbacks you experience may feel like insurmountable obstacles, but there’s nothing you can’t overcome in recovery. You’ve worked through one of the most difficult behavioral conditions and made it this far. You can deal with any setback that comes your way, no matter how impossible it may seem. What are the best ways to deal with setbacks in your eating disorder recovery?

You Don’t Need to Do It Alone

You may hesitate to tell someone in your life that you experienced a challenge or a slip. It might seem like admitting defeat to tell anyone that you’re in a rocky place with your recovery. In reality, telling a family member or friend what’s going on is exactly what you should do. You don’t need to handle your eating disorder recovery alone. It’s best to reach out to others and ask for help and support during these difficult times. Your support system can step in and be there for you during these challenging experiences until you get back on track.

Setbacks Don’t Define Your Worth

A setback says nothing about your worth as a person. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t working hard enough at your recovery. Setbacks are an inevitable part of the recovery process, whether you’re in recovery from ED, addiction, alcoholism, or some other disorder. A setback is simply a bump in the road on your way to wellness. Try to remember that setbacks don’t define your worth. You are not your eating disorder and you are not your recovery. These are aspects of your life and only one part of the greater whole that is you as a person. You’re more than the setbacks that arise.

Self-Reflection is Vital

When a setback does arise, you need to be sure to set aside time for self-reflection. What exactly happened? What led up to the experience? How can you either avoid that happening again or prepare yourself for the time that it does? Self-reflection is the most important aspect of handling setbacks. If you don’t take the time to reflect on the experience, it’s going to come up at one point or another and challenge your recovery again.

You Can Get Back On Track

Sometimes you may feel tempted to say “forget about it” and lean into whatever setback arises. You might believe that a relapse means you’ve ruined your recovery and you might as well give up at this point. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can get back on track no matter what setback may arise. You’re never too far gone to get back on track and reaffirm your recovery. Whether you slipped for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks, you can make it back and continue moving forward past the setback.

Reach Out For Additional Support

There is nothing wrong with asking for additional support when setbacks in eating disorder recovery arise. Sometimes you may need the help of a specialized eating disorder treatment facility if your slip back into ED behaviors progresses too far. It doesn’t mean you can’t handle your problems on your own; it means you care more about living than giving in to your disorder. Selah House is an eating disorder treatment facility located in the peaceful countryside of Indiana. We offer a Christian eating disorder treatment program that addresses and works through the underlying reasons for eating disorders. We’re here to help you find freedom from your ED so you can live the life you were born to live, free from the bondage of ED. Are you looking for some additional support amidst an eating disorder recovery setback? Reach out to us and speak with an admissions specialist today. We can answer your questions, address any concerns, and connect you with the treatment program at Selah House that’s the best fit for you and your recovery. But with that change in uniform come the anxiety and nerves caused by struggles with body image. Society pressures women to fit into a particular mold, one that is an unrealistic standard of beauty for most. The idea that you need to have a perfect summer body is a harmful belief that hurts millions of women across the country. Women who battle body dysmorphia and eating disorders are especially vulnerable to the toxic idea of a summer body. These societal beauty standards are the main factors that create insecurities and negative beliefs about body image. Whether you believe it or not, you already have your summer body. There’s no need to look for an unhealthy crash diet, start exercising compulsively or even hide under layers this summer. You don’t have to do anything to change the way you look as you head into this summer season. Though it’s far easier said than internalized, there are some things you can do to make sure you have a good summer while keeping your eating disorder and body dysmorphia at bay.

There’s No Such Thing As a “Summer Body”

A summer body doesn’t exist. The concept was created as an essentially unachievable ideal to sell all sorts of products, from clothes to supplements, fitness plans to healthy foods. The less confident you feel, the more you’ll look to outside factors to “fix” it. It’s a terrible approach that some companies use to sell more products. Look around the next time you’re at the pool or the beach. How many people truly look like the influencers and advertisements you see on your social media feeds? The majority of people make up a wide range of body types and don’t fit that singular mold you’re told to fit. Once you start to realize and accept that a summer body is a misleading concept, you can begin to free yourself from that societal pressure. Most normal people don’t look like the models you scroll past on Instagram that are used to sell clothing and other products. You don’t need to starve or over-exercise yourself in the pursuit of a false illusion.

Wear Clothes That Are Comfortable For You

Simply knowing the fact that a summer body doesn’t exist doesn’t mean your insecurities will all suddenly melt away. It’s not as simple as telling yourself that you don’t need to meet the unrealistic societal expectations of beauty. If overcoming body dysmorphia were that easy then there wouldn’t be so many people battling those negative thoughts as summer approaches. As you come to terms with the understanding that you already have a summer body, it’s okay to wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. It’s more important to keep your body dysmorphia and disordered eating behaviors in check than to wear certain types of clothes. You don’t need to wear tank tops and shorts if they leave you feeling exposed and uncomfortable.

Prepare Yourself for Gatherings

Summer gatherings often center around food. Barbecues, dinners with friends, home-cooked meals on backyard patios. People often come together over a meal which can be challenging when you’re in recovery from an eating disorder. Even if your behaviors are manageable, attending these food-focused gatherings can make you feel uneasy. Prepare yourself ahead of time for gatherings that are centered around food. Don’t let them derail you from the positive habits that got you to the point you’re at. For example, it’s okay to stick to your meal plan while still attending events with friends. If it’s something like a lunch or a potluck, bring your own foods with you that are safe and non-triggering. Your friends would rather have you there with your own food than have you miss the event.

Recruit Your Support System

Recruiting your support system is the best way to keep yourself safe, sane, and centered this summer. You might find times when your body dysmorphia has you trapped in a negative thought spiral. Your support system can include friends and family, your therapist, a recovery group, or even an outpatient treatment program if you need additional support. Selah House is a treatment facility located in Indiana that works with women who battle body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Our Christian eating disorder treatment program offers residential treatment and day programs for women looking to overcome their disorder. Through a combination of individualized counseling, group therapy, nutrition coaching, holistic wellness, and more, we provide women with the tools to lay the foundation for a healthy life free from the cycle of their disorders. Want to learn more about the programs we offer? Reach out to us today through our online contact form or by phone and admissions specialists can help! You never need to battle your condition alone again; Selah House is here.

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