Can my child recover from an Eating Disorder? 

Is recovery possible?
We have good news. Yes, eating disorders are treatable, and lots of people recover from them. However, recovery is a difficult process that can take seven to ten years or even longer. Some people do better than others and make faster progress. The folks who do best, work with physicians and counselors who help them resolve both the medical and psychological issues that contribute to, or result from, disordered eating.(Int J Eat Disord 1997; 22:339 and Eating Disorders, 2000; 8:189). About 80 percent of people with eating disorders who seek treatment either recover completely or make significant progress. Sadly, the rest remain chronic sufferers or die.

What is recovery?
Recovery is much more than the abandonment of starving and stuffing. At minimum it includes the following:

  • Maintenance of normal or near-normal weight
  • In women, regular menstrual periods (not triggered by medication)
  • A varied diet of normal foods (not just low-cal, non-fat, non-sugar items)
  • Elimination or major reduction of irrational food fears
  • Age appropriate relationships with family members
  • Awareness of cultural demands for unrealistic thinness
  • One or more mutually satisfying friendships with healthy, normal people. Such friendships involve mutual give-and-take and a minimum of caretaking and “parenting” behavior.
  • Age-appropriate interest and participation in romantic relationships
  • Strong repertoire of problem-solving skills
  • Fun activities that have nothing to do with food, weight, or appearance
  • Understanding of the process of choices and consequences
  • Person has a sense of self, plus goals and a realistic plan for achieving them. Is moving towards building a meaningful, fulfilling, and satisfying life.
  • Person has also learned to be kind to self and others, forsaking perfectionism and confronting flaws and disorder with grace and understanding. Person refuses to drive her/himself with criticism and demands for unrealistic performance.


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