Life After an Eating Disorder: What to Expect Upon Becoming Fully Recovered
After the completion of an appropriate eating disorder treatment program, patients with anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa have to make the transition back to daily life. While the treatment center offers a psychologically gentle place to heal, the outside world can feel quite unforgiving, especially in comparison. The unpredictable nature of everyday life can prove challenging during the post eating disorder period and beyond. Remaining fully recovered, and enjoying life after an eating disorder, requires a dedication to knowing and facing the challenges each day and staying a step ahead at all times. Here’s what to expect upon becoming fully recovered.
Profound Relief from Release of Bonds to Eating Disorder Habits
Although life after learning how to recover from an eating disorder has its complications, profound relief comes with the release from the bonds of eating disorder habits. Former clients typically have the ability to reclaim hours of the day previously reserved for eating restriction or other potentially harmful dietary habits. The veil of negative feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment lift after anorexia nervosa recovery to leave emotional energy for positive endeavors. Opportunities abound with the time and energy opened up after learning how to recover from an eating disorder.
Openly Consuming Food in Uncontrolled Environments
The urge to hide and start binge eating after anorexia nervosa recovery typically resolves with the return to beneficial eating habits. Furthermore, most clients find it much easier to eat several balanced meals a day. Therefore, with the right approach, recovered patients can enjoy outings to restaurants and backyard barbecues without worry about hiding their eating habits. As a result, mealtimes become much easier for patients and carry positive connotations for all involved.
Emotional Changes in Response to Stressors and Accomplishments
Upon returning to normalized eating and thought patterns, emotions may be stressed temporarily as the individual reintegrates. Normal everyday stressors and accomplishments can set off conflicting emotions that take a long time to dissipate. As the mind, body and soul receive adequate nutrients, and understanding, healing begins with the stabilization of emotions – but this process takes time. Life after anorexia nervosa recovery requires a gentle approach to cope with emotions and urges to return to disordered that might arise in response to both pleasing and undesirable situations.
Long Term Effects of Anorexia Nervosa After Recovery
When left untreated for long periods of time, both bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa can cause serious long term health effects.
Common health problems associated with these conditions include:
- Bone mass loss
- Liver, kidney and heart damage
Furthermore, these two conditions tend to damage the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in chronic diarrhea or constipation until the system heals. Prompt and thorough treatment at a day or residential center can effectively decrease the risk of these long-term effects and jumpstart the full-body healing process.
Daily Challenges in Acceptance of Body Shape and Size
As patients challenge their disordered thought patterns, acceptance of body shape and size comes with time. A negative perception of the body can take a long time to fully resolve, leading to daily challenges that highlight that topic. Eating rich meals, buying new clothes or simply looking in the mirror can replace body positivity with a barrage of negative thoughts that appear out of seemingly nowhere. Individuals must prepare themselves for these daily body acceptance challenges by utilizing smart coping skills that pertain to what to expect in anorexia nervosa recovery.
Ability to Return for Guidance and Support in Day Treatment
With admission to a residential or day treatment center for eating disorders, people receive support from professionals with a people-first, therapist second outlook. They are taught to always feel their feelings, challenge their thoughts and return to day treatment early whenever the highest level of medical and psychiatric care is needed.
Although time in a quality treatment program prepares individuals for life after an eating disorder, additional support is sometimes needed to become fully recovered. Recovered people should always seek the best for their recovery needs, including learning what to expect when recovering from bulimia nervosa and/or anorexia nervosa.