Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

Eating Disorder Relapse

Going through the eating disorder recovery process does not mean that you are “fixed” or “cured.” Recovery is a lifelong process, one that will entail both good days and bad. As such, eating disorder relapse can happen, and it is important to be aware of its implications. First, why do relapses happen? To understand this, remember that eating disorders are not primarily about food. They are generally rooted in genetic and biological factors, but external stress and anxiety can sometimes trigger or exacerbate them. Transitioning from eating disorder treatment program back into your “normal” life—and all the struggles associated with it, like stress at your workplace or in your relationships—can sometimes increase the likelihood of relapse. And how will you know when you have relapsed, or perhaps are simply on the verge of doing so? Some common indicators include:
  • Thoughts that keep returning to food, weight, or dieting
  • Dishonesty with your eating disorder counselor or dietitian
  • Worries that you are losing control
  • Feeling as though you have no outlet for your stress
  • Dieting and exercising not to be healthy, but just to look good
  • Skipping meals or purifying yourself after eating
Of course, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of relapse. Make sure you keep meeting with your counselor or therapist, and stay connected to a support group. Also find a healthy outlet for stress. Stick to the nutritional guidelines you received in treatment, too. And if you do relapse, seek professional help. You’re not going to be scolded; you’re going to be cared for, and helped back on to your road to recovery. Relapse can happen, but it is not a sign that you are weak, and it should not make you feel ashamed. Make sure to talk to someone about it sooner rather than later. What’s your experience with relapse? Tell us on Facebook.