3 Lessons for the Early Stages of Eating Disorder Recovery

March 10, 2020 Hollay Ghadery

In my experience, people in the early stages of eating disorder recovery often rush their progress. Unfortunately, this rush adds pressure to an already stressful situation, which can cause people to experience more setbacks than necessary. 

I am speaking from experience. In my early stages of eating disorder recovery, I thought that the act of deciding I wanted to get better would automatically change everything--or at least most things. I couldn't have been more wrong; and because I'd put so much pressure on myself, I had more slip-ups than I might have otherwise experienced. 

The Early Stages of Eating Disorder Recovery Is the Foundation of Your Success

How you treat yourself in the early stages of eating disorder recovery can set the tone for your entire recovery. With so much hinging on the first few days, weeks and months of your recovery, it's imperative that you approach it with a healthy attitude.

My lessons for the early stages of eating disorder recovery can be challenging to learn for those of us who have had an unhealthy attitude for so long, but they are not impossible. Here are my three most important lessons for the early stages of eating disorder recovery that can help you feel better, sooner.

1. Be Patient in Early Eating Disorder Recovery

If you're impatient with yourself off-the-hop, you'll be impatient with yourself throughout your recovery. Patience is absolutely crucial to your success, so don't expect yourself to have reprogrammed your brain overnight. You are trying to relinquish and relearn behaviors that took years to develop, and it's going to take you at least that long to unlearn them.

2. Expect Slip-Ups in Early Eating Disorder Recovery

From the moment I decided I wanted to put an end to my eating disorder, I expected to never, ever binge or purge or starve myself again. The truth is you enter recovery the moment you decide you want to recover, but many people don't stop--and can't stop--the eating disorder behaviors right away.

Again, be patient. Once I accepted that slip-ups were part of the process of the early stages of eating disorder recovery, I stopped beating myself up about them every time they happened. I was better able to move past them and onto a clean slate. 

3. Rest is Important in Early Eating Disorder Recovery

I can't emphasize the importance of rest in early eating disorder recovery enough. I read somewhere, years before I entered recovery, that keeping oneself busy is crucial to recovery from just about anything. Unfortunately, for me--a person of extremes--I ran myself ragged. I threw myself into my work. I went to the gym seven days a week. I volunteered for extra commitments. I exhausted myself, and I did not have the energy for the vital mental healing that's part of the early stages of eating disorder recovery.

My advice is to keep yourself busy, yes, but to also balance that out with downtime. Not to be confused with allowing yourself to fall into a rut, downtime involves doing things you enjoy that don't tax you mentally or physically. 

I read a lot of trashy romance novels during the early stages of my eating disorder recovery. I watched many BBC period dramas. I took up needlepoint again--something I hadn't done since I was a young teenager. 

I did all these things and tried my best not to feel guilty about them, though sometimes I did. I encourage you not to, though. I have been in recovery for a decade, and the first five years were riddled with hurdles that, if I'm honest, I placed in my own way. 

Early Stage Eating Disorder Recovery Lessons

I hope the lessons I learned from my early stages of eating disorder recovery help you avoid some of these hurdles yourself, so you can have a slightly less tumultuous road to recovery. 

Have any tips for early eating disorder recovery? Please share them in the comments.

APA Reference
Ghadery, H. (2020, March 10). 3 Lessons for the Early Stages of Eating Disorder Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Hollay Ghadery

Hollay Ghadery is a writer and editor living in Ontario, Canada. She has a book of non-fiction set to be published by Guernica Editions in 2021. The work dives into the documented prevalence of mental health issues in biracial women. Connect with Hollay on her website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lizanne Corbit
March, 10 2020 at 3:41 pm

This is such a helpful account because it's so honest, and just the thing that anyone in this state of the journey needs to hear. I think it's so valuable that you mention things like expectation and rest. These are two areas that can be so easily overlooked but they are vital to the overall success for anyone in recovery. It's a time to be gentle and patient with ourselves above all things.

March, 10 2020 at 9:19 pm

Thank you, Lizanne! And yes--rest and maintaining healthy expectations is key--I am glad that resonated with you since it is so key, I think, to long-term success.

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