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Eating disorders are complex illnesses that involve emotional, social, physical and biological factors. Relapses, or recurrence of symptoms, are common following completion of eating disorder treatment programs. While relapses are treatable, the ideal scenario entails preventing relapse in the first place. If you've recently recovered from an eating disorder, consider relapse-prevention techniques as important tools toward maintaining your health, happiness and long-term wellness.
Reducing Negative Influences
When individuals recovering from eating disorders are praised for thinness they may be vulnerable to relapse. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, those with eating disorders, such as anorexia, run high risk of relapsing. Athletic or dance coaches who place emphasis on leanness or body weight should be avoided by those who are vulnerable. Media influences, such as magazines that promote unrealistic physical ideals or promote fad diet techniques should also be avoided. Friends and family members of those with eating disorders should provide support, unconditional love and encouragement. If loved ones discuss weight loss, place value on thinness or diet perpetually themselves, they may trigger eating disordered thoughts and behaviors.
Consuming Regular Meals
The concept of "regular" meals often becomes foreign to those struggling with eating disorders. Proper treatment encourages individuals to create a healthy, balanced dietary lifestyle that includes meals and snacks consumed at appropriate time intervals. According to an article featured in the "New York Times" on February 27th, 2010, those with bulimia tend to skip meals only to binge and purge there after, while the disorder is active. Consuming regular meals on a daily, consistent basis can help prevent such behaviors and strengthen recovery. In addition, research shows a biological response caused by anorexia-induced starvation that prevents the effectiveness of any form of treatment. In other words, dietary behaviors, such as eating regular meals, must continue in order for emotional well-being to improve and recovery to remain stable.
If you have recently completed treatment for an eating disorder, a dietary routine that includes three meals, as well as snacks, at fairly consistent times daily is key. Over time your body will adjust and adapt to the eating schedule, which will benefit your emotional health as well as your nutritional and physical well-being. Family members can help support the recovery process by encouraging consumption of regular meals, without scolding or placing negative pressure on you.
Reach Out to Others
Eating disorders are complex illnesses and recovery requires determination, patience, support and hard work. The "New York Times" suggests that those with eating disorders stay in close contact with supportive team members, such as therapists and dietitians. An open, trusting relationship between therapist and patient is crucial as well, as those with eating disorders are most likely to reveal difficult feelings or indications of potential relapse behaviors to someone he feels comfortable with.
If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, stay in touch with qualified professionals you trust. When you feel strongest in your recovery, you may wish to discuss a game plan with your therapist or supportive loved ones as a means of keeping you on track if or when you feel vulnerable to relapse.