dealing with a relapse in ED recovery (Q&A pt.1)

Eating disorder recovery often feels like the tide. It comes and goes, you take one step forward and it feels like you take three steps back. The recovery journey is certainly not linear – and that’s okay, too. Relapse in ED recovery (both big and small ones) seem to be the norm rather than the exception, so today we’re going to address the frequently asked question, “Do you have any tips for dealing with a relapse in ed recovery?”

I receive via Instagram and co. often questions that are very similar- so I thought I’d use my blog in the future and publish my answers freely accessible to everyone. So, if you have any questions about eating disorder recovery – please send me a message on Instagram or use the form below. Maybe I’ll dedicate my next post to your question. But back to the topic: relapse in ED recovery.

table of contents

What is a Relapse in ED recovery?

We speak of a relapse when a person reverts to disordered eating behaviours, when the body and food focus returns, weight is lost again, and predominantly negative thoughts take up your mind space.

Sometimes you just have one bad day – or two bad days, sometimes recovery is harder, it’s part of recovery in the vast majority of cases and doesn’t mean that you’ve ruined all your progress. We are not machines that can be easily reprogrammed with the push of a few buttons. Getting rid of your usual behaviours, feeling emotions again, being able to almost watch yourself change and having to step out of your comfort zone every day is exhausting. But if you notice that it’s getting harder and harder every day and you’re giving in to the eating disorder voice more and more, then it’s time to act.

You have not embarked on the recovery journey in the past in vain. There were valid reasons why you didn’t want to be in the eating disorder any longer.

How you can recognize that it´s getting worse again

An essential part of recovery is to recognize the “red flags” of a relapse as early as possible. I also like to use the “fallback traffic light” in my coaching. I’ll present the model in a moment – but it’s important for me to emphasize up front that it’s important to start taking steps and actions in the right direction again as early as possible. You don’t have to wait until you reach “rock bottom” again. Act now – what’s the point of waiting and enduring the hell of your eating disorder?

relapse in ed recovery

Treat yourself with kindness

A bad day is a bad day. But there is no reason to give up everything you have achieved or to devalue it according to the motto: “Now I’ve cut my finger, now I’ll just chop it off”.

relapses happen. Mistakes happen. Sometimes we give in to our emotions. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by our emotions and don’t know where to go. We are “only” human. Instead of seeing a relapse in ED recovery as a “failure,” see it as an opportunity.

Instead of telling yourself that you failed, that you weren’t strong enough and that you disappointed others and yourself, try to forgive yourself and meet yourself with love in this situation. It’s not your fault you slipped back into old habits. But next time you might be even able to take better care of yourself in a similar situation by recognizing the trigger in good time and resorting to more sustainable and efficient coping strategies.

Steps you can take now

  • open up about your current situation to a person you can/want to trust
  • return to your regular three meals and three snacks
  • write a list of all the reasons why you want to recover and why you deserve recovery! (because you do)
  • write regularly in your journal and recognize your triggers
  • listen to music that lifts your spirits
  • practice mantras and affirmations and use them to bring your focus to helpful thoughts.
  • socialize: hang out with friends, start a new hobby that requires social interaction,…
  • do things that you enjoy – or actually enjoy: reading, painting, crocheting, knitting, dancing, … all these things can help you to shift your focus away from the eating disorder and towards life.
  • watch funny YouTube videos, read a comedy or a funny movie
  • instead of venting your anger and anger on your body, smash your scales, hit a pillow, climb a mountain and scream out your frustration
get out of a relapse dealing with a relapse in ED recovery (Q&A pt.1)

I hope this post has been helpful to you and answered some of your questions about relapse in ED recovery. If you have any further questions, please send me an email, use the form below or via Instagram – and maybe I’ll dedicate the next blog post to you. Until then:

Much love and keep your ears stiff!


rund um das Thema Genesung von Essstörungen, Intuitives Essen oder "Health at every size"/ eating disorder recovery related, about intuitive eating or health at every size.
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