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Eating disorders

Self-care for eating disorders

After you have started to recover from an eating disorder, you will need to keep working hard to stay well.

For people with anorexia nervosa, the risk of going back to the pattern of starving and losing weight is highest at about 4–9 months after successful treatment. People who have recovered from bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder also find it very hard to resist going back to their old habits.

You need to stay in touch with your health-care team and keep working very hard on staying well, especially if binging or purging has been a problem for you in the past.

Tips for helping yourself

  • Keep talking about your problem with the people who love and support you, even if this is hard to do.
  • Surround yourself with people who support you and want to see you healthy and happy.
  • Join an eating disorder support group. These groups provide a safe environment where you can talk freely about your eating disorder and get advice and support from people who know what you’re going through.
  • Try to keep information flowing freely between the health-care professionals who manage your care and your family or carers.
  • Stick with your eating disorder treatment plan. Don’t neglect therapy or other parts of your treatment, even if you’re doing better. Follow the recommendations of your health-care team.
  • Do everything you can to make sure your brain and body are getting the regular and adequate nutrition they need to recover.
  • Get treatment for other mental health problems (e.g. anxiety and depression) if these are a problem for you.
  • Ask your health-care team to help you make a relapse prevention plan and an advance care directive.
  • Work out what triggers your symptoms (e.g. certain times of year or stressful life events). Make a plan to deal with them, such as going to therapy more often during these times or asking for extra support from family and carers.
  • Avoid people that drain your energy, make you feel bad about yourself or encourage your symptoms. If you can’t avoid them, work out a way to protect yourself.
  • Fill your life with activities that you enjoy or make you feel fulfilled. Try something you’ve always wanted to do, such as learning a skill or a hobby. When you are busy doing something worthwhile, you will focus less on food and weight.
  • Remember that recovery is possible. Believe in yourself – that you can and will get better and stay well.

 Adapted from the eating disorders advice.

Page last reviewed Aug 2015 | C1037V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.