The term ‘eating disorder’ covers a number of different mental health conditions centered around unhealthy eating habits and disordered perceptions of weight, exercise and food in general.
First things first
The first and most important step in getting help for an eating disorder is reaching out to an eating disorder therapist or treatment center. Unfortunately, the nature of an eating disorder, be it anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating or another type, is one of secrecy and self-sabotage. For this reason it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for individuals to handle an eating disorder on their own.
While it can be intimidating and scary, contacting an eating disorder treatment center is one of the first steps in ensuring help and healing. Through treatment, you will begin to see signs of improvement and healing as unhealthy eating disorder habits are replaced by healthy alternatives.
Signs of improving anorexia nervosa
Anorexia has a number of symptoms to indicate the worsening of the condition, but as you journey through recovery, you’ll notice these symptoms begin to lessen, if not vanish entirely.
Signs your anorexia is improving include:
- Increased energy, strength and endurance;
- Stronger muscles and bones;
- Less likely to feel dizzy or lightheaded;
- Reduced fear of eating, especially of certain triggering foods;
- Less likely to over-exercise in order to compensate for eating;
- A renewed desire to be part of social interactions;
- Less restrictive eating patterns;
- Decreased focus on weight or personal physical appearance.
Through treatment, the symptoms of anorexia nervosa are more likely to go away through the introduction of and adherence to healthy habits and nutrition that are part of treatment programs.
Signs of improving bulimia nervosa
The disappearance of these symptoms can indicate improvement and the effectiveness of bulimia nervosa treatment.
You might notice bulimic habits beginning to go away if:
- You don’t feel the need to over-eat;
- Because you aren’t overeating, there’s no need to compensate by induced vomiting or laxatives;
- You don’t feel the effects of dehydration (lethargy, dizziness, muscle weakness) as a result of vomiting;
- You pay less attention to personal appearance in that you’re not overly focused on weight or body image;
- You begin to feel your strength and energy levels returning;
- You want to be a part of social interactions and you reinvest in friendships and personal relationships.
Bulimia nervosa treatment can take time, but the positive effects of a health recovery are entirely worth the effort.
Signs of improving binge-eating
As treatment begins to work and healthy habits begin to replace unhealthy ones, you will notice binge-eating tendencies begin to disappear. Signs of improved binge-eating include:
- You begin to return to a healthy weight as your eating habits become balanced and nutritious;
- You don’t cope with stress or anxiety by eating large amounts of food if you’re not hungry;
- You view mealtimes as a means of regaining strength and energy;
- You don’t feel ashamed, guilty or depressed about your eating habits;
- You don’t feel the need to diet;
- You regain a healthy sense of self-worth and body image as a result of improved eating behaviors.
Over time, these and other signs of binge-eating improvement can encourage further recovery.
When in treatment will I see these signs?
Each eating disorder is different, and even if two individuals struggle with the same eating disorder, their personal experiences with a disorder may vary. Therefore, treatment plans for our clients at Seeds of Hope are personalized and crafted around their treatment goals, personal experiences and holistic needs.
Everyone’s recovery journey will be different. For those who have lived with anorexia for many years, it might take longer to reach certain recovery milestones than someone who’s been struggling with it for a shorter period of time.
Certain treatment milestones do indicate improvement. For example, some clients begin treatment in our most intense level of care – Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) – where individuals are medically stable but require support in their daily lives.
After participants have progressed through this program, they often graduate into our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), as they no longer need full-time support. Once IOP is completed, clients participate once a week in an outpatient group that promotes recovery and community post-treatment.
Contact a treatment center today
If you recognize signs of an eating disorder in your life, or the life of a loved one, reach out to Seeds of Hope to begin the recovery journey. Call 610-644-6464 to speak with a treatment provider today.