An eating disorder relapse is when a patient in recovery begins turning to her previous methods of coping. Some of these harmful behaviors can be:

  • Binging and purging cycles
  • Restricting food
  • Over exercising
  • Using laxatives/diuretics

How Can I Tell If It’s A Relapse?

After leaving treatment, it is vital to maintain your meal plan as designed by your nutritionist. It is also beneficial to plan ahead, and develop a relapse plan that can help to empower the patient during times of stress.

“In my work with treating eating disorder patient’s at The Meadows Ranch the relapse plan is vital to a patient’s transition home,” says JoAnna Shapiro, Executive Clinical Director. “Developing a relapse plan prior to discharge increases the awareness for the patient to know the differences between relapse and slips. The plan helps the patient identify the support and accountability needed to continue on their recovery journey.”

Keep in mind that recovery is an on-going process that is unique to each individual. Some women find it very easy to maintain their recovery after they leave treatment while others may need more support.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these signs, it’s OK to ask for help:Signs of Eating Disorder Relapse

  • Thoughts continue to turn back to weight and food
  • Increasing need to be in control over many things
  • Perfectionistic thinking returns or becomes stronger
  • Feelings of needing to escape from stress and problems
  • Feeling hopelessness and/or increasing sadness
  • Increasing belief that you can only be happy if you are thin
  • Increasing belief that you are out of control if you are not on a “diet”
  • Dishonesty with treatment coordinators and/or friends and family
  • Looking in mirrors often
  • Weighing yourself more and determining whether today will be good or bad depending on what shows up on the scale
  • Skipping meals, or purging them
  • Avoiding food and/or get-togethers that involve food
  • Increasing need to exercise continually
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Feeling guilt after eating
  • Feeling the need to isolate yourself from those around you
  • Feeling “fat” even though people say otherwise

What Do I Do If I Have Relapsed?

The key is to not become too hard on yourself as recovery is an on-going process.

Consistent and regular visits with your outpatient treatment team and surrounding yourself with a strong support network of family and friends can help prevent or address a relapse before it occurs.

If you have relapsed, these tips may help you:

  • Remind yourself that relapse is a normal part of recovery
  • Try not to focus on the fact that you have relapsed; instead, focus on finding your way back to recovery
  • Seek help from your clinicians or support network and don’t be afraid to tell them you have relapsed
  • Try to identify the triggers that have caused the relapse and consider how you could deal with these triggers next time
  • Employ the coping skills and techniques you have learned throughout the recovery process
  • Boost your self-esteem by spending time with your support network and/or engaging in activities that you enjoy

We Can Help

The work of eating disorder recovery doesn’t end once you’ve adopted healthy habits. It’s important to take steps to maintain your progress and prevent relapse.

The eating disorder experts at The Meadows Ranch have over 20 years of treatment experience. We understand the challenges of staying in recovery from eating disorders, but we also believe recovery is possible.

For additional information about the treatment of eating disorders, please call to speak to a Counselor at 866-390-5100 and we will contact you with the information you need.