Do people with eating disorders recover?

Eating disorders are a serious Mental Illness. When you are struggling to beat such an illness, you may ask yourself if one can truly be recovered. The answer is, yes! I personally struggled with eating disorders in my past, so I can relate to the question of is this ever going to end. Let your loved ones know that you are hurting, and want to seek professional help in order to reach recovery from this mental disease.

  1. Find a team to work with for recovery (a personal trainer, nutritional coach, counselor, and close friend or family member to support you, make sure your professional coaches are specialized in your type of eating disorder).
  2. Be patient you did not develop an eating disorder over night; it will not go away overnight. However, if you take the time to do it right, you will recover, and you deserve this quality of life!
  3. Don’t be ashamed to let others know you are struggling. I hid my eating disorder for a long time, and once I opened up to my loved ones, I was really able to get the help and support I need to recover. No one is perfect, and you will start to see that there are deeper emotions that drive you toward you’re eating disorder lifestyle.
  4. Once you are really educated about your body, mind, and emotions, you will step into the path of recovery. There will be steps back along the way, but for every step back you will take one larger step forward. With each step back you are learning through experience what does not work for you. Recovery is not a cookie cutter solution for all. You truly, will create your own recovery package and that is a beautiful thing. Every time I fell back during my recovery I hated that moment of fear and feeling of failure. However, now I am very thankful for those tough times because I can use those times to connect with my clients who may be at that same phase I once was. I am able to help them out of that phase and on to the next phase of recovery. I also like that because I felt pain then, now I really appreciate all my healthy habits and all the great feelings they bring to my life each day!
Vicki Berkus, MD

Yes, they recover with the help of dedicated people (nutritionists, dietitians, therapists, nurses, psychiatrists and internists). There are several options for care and the studies show that if a patient receives optimum care (see below), the recovery rate is much higher. The most effective treatment for a severe eating disorder is in-patient care in a setting where there is support around the clock. Treatment centers different in the make-up of staff but all are dedicated to helping patients learn healthy new behaviors. This may take two to three months and patients then go to a partial program which lasts all day and they go home at night. The support and re-eeding is taking place during the day and they practice using their tools at night. An IOP is an intense outpatient program where the patient comes to treatment several times/week. This is a big adjustment for many after being in a partial program. The final stage is an outpatient program consisting of weekly visits with a therapist, nutritionist. This may also include monthly appointments with a psychiatrist and family physician. The problems we are facing is getting the insurance companies to cover the expenses of treatment. Too frequently, patients are stepped down from one level to another because the insurance will not continue to pay. (See my Blog)

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics
Yes, recovery from an eating disorder is possible with the right treatment. Treatment includes regular therapy with a licensed therapist, nutritional guidance from a Registered Dietitian, medical evaluations and follow-up with a medical doctor, and medication management from a psychiatrist. More intensive forms of treatment include out and in-patient programs. Most people need treatment to recover from their eating disorder.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.