The Phases of Eating Disorder Recovery
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Exploring the 3 phases of recovering from disordered eating

man writing in a notebook the phases of eating disorder recovery with cupcakes on the side

As an Eating Disorder Dietitian, I know that recovery from a complicated relationship with food, chronic dieting or an eating disorder isn’t easy.  It is often messy and sometimes up and down. Below are some of the things you may find helpful to review on your journey to creating a healthy relationship with food and your body. 

What does recovery from disordered eating actually look like?

Whether you are recovering from a life long battle with the dieting mentality or recovering from a diagnosed eating disorder, the process is still generally the same. The symptoms and behaviors are specific to the individual and their situation, but our approach remains the same.   

Eating Disorder Recovery Phase 1

Goal:  Reduce and stop using disordered eating behaviors    

Expert: Whole team, including you.   

The first phase of recovery is where I am going to get really nerdy on you. This is where your Dietitian uses their expertise in science and behavioral change to help you gradually let go of your disordered eating behaviors. The goal here is to make sure that you are medically stable first and that you are not engaging in any behavior that may harm you mentally or physically. 

Those behaviors could include:

  • Restricting certain food groups unnecessarily;
  • Under eating or overeating related to stress or medication side effects;
  • Feeling like you need to exercise to earn your food;
  • Eating in a sporadic manner that is causing some intestinal discomfort;
  • Feeling like you have to eat only clean foods or make the “best” choice always;
  • Any behavior that is negatively impacting your relationship with food.   

Phase 1 is a big phase! It is where a lot of the work happens. This phase often requires that you build in structure and be more methodical in how you eat

One question that I get all the time is: “If I am no longer doing my disordered behaviors, am I done? Is that recovery?” The answer, is no. This is not as good as it gets. Now, we get to start challenging our new food behaviors. 

new mindset is written on a pink post it note, new results is written on a yellow post it note next to each other

Eating Disorder Recovery Phase 2 

Goal: Get more comfortable in how you are using food and behaving around food in all different situations 

Expert: The whole team and you get to take a bigger role here!    

The second phase of recovery is both exciting and challenging. This is where we get to start exploring potentially challenging situations like social settings, festive meals, trying new foods, travelling, or whatever situation has made food hard for you before. 

Compassionate input from friends and family can be helpful here since we may think food isn’t a challenge but often our loved ones around us may be able to point out situations they can see that our own authentic self doesn’t show up. You or your loved one’s might notice you may be in your head sometimes and not present or in the moment around food. There may be times you are not being flexible with your food choices or not living life to the fullest due to planning or routines.    

At this phase you are beginning to feel a sense of food freedom and can identify times where old thinking is getting in the way with a willingness to abandon the rules and challenge yourself.  

Eating Disorder Recovery Phase 3

Goal: Learn to be the expert in how you use food! 

Expert: This is when you get to learn tools to become the expert in supporting yourself! 

Phase three is where all the skills you have learned so far show up! By now, you have a good understanding of your hunger and fullness cues, you know what your challenging food-related situations look like, you know the mindset you need to maintain making choices that serve you best, and know what things could throw you off track. Through the phases of recovery you have built trust in yourself. You have learned to take care of yourself in a way that makes you feel your best and how to problem solve if something is getting in the way.   

Phase three is when you happily get to fire your Dietitian!

Disclaimer – Don’t be a stranger! Feel free to keep in touch and update us over time. It is a sign of strength to reach out for help during different seasons of life that food may become a challenge.  You never need to struggle alone.   

Who is on your team?

The members of your team depend on your individual situation. Team members can include: you, your support system (family, friends, loved ones), your Registered Dietitian, you Physician, your Counsellor or Psychologist, support groups, and any other care provider that feels helpful for you.   

If you are ready to challenge your disordered eating behaviors and want to know what this process would look like for you, let us knowYou can find out more information about our Eating Disorder Dietitian services and help for establishing a healthier relationship with food here:  Private Virtual Nutrition Counseling Support.

Are you interested in receiving personal nutrition support? Our team of Registered Dietitians can help! 

Our Registered Dietitian team specialize in nutrition for mental health, meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health and more. Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here.

As trained Registered Dietitians, you can count on us for credible advice and practical meal planning so you don’t have to stress about food anymore. You can achieve a healthy and joyous relationship with food and your body. Let’s talk about what this can look like for you.  

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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