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The 10 Phases of Eating Disorder Recovery

In Carolyn Costin’s Book “ 8 Keys to Recovery From An Eating Disorder” she talks about the different phases individuals go through when they are on their journey to recovery. As an Eating Disorder Therapist in Vancouver, I see people in all of these phases when I work with them. Understanding where we are at helps us see both where we have been and also where we have yet to go. For many, they will find a phase that they are comfortable, set up camp and decide that is as far they will go. That is your right to decide how far into recovery you want to travel. I do believe, however, that when we reach phase 10, we have the greatest chance of a happy, full life. I would encourage you to find your phase and explore it. Do you recognize having gone through any of these phases? What does your current phase mean to you? When you see the other phases, do they motivate you or overwhelm you? Is there a step you could take that might help you move onto the next phase? How does it feel to realize that so many other people experience the same phase as you?

10 Phases of Eating Disorder Recovery

  1. I Don’t Think I Have A Problem
    1. It’s my body so leave be alone
    2. There are a lot of people who are a lot thinner (worse) than I am
  1. I Might Have A Problem But It’s Not That Bad
    1. I only throw up once in awhile
    2. My physical didn’t show anything wrong so I am okay
  1. I Have A Problem But I Don’t Care
    1. I know throwing up isn’t good for me, but its working for me so I don’t care
    2. I could change if I wanted to, but I don’t
  1. I Want To Change But I Don’t Know How And I’m Scared
    1. I want to eat normally, but I am afraid I will get fat (gain weight)
    2. I want to stop bingeing, but I can’t figure out where to start
  1. I Tried To Change But I Couldn’t
    1. I told myself that I would not (fill in the blank) but I found myself doing it again
    2. I don’t feel like I can really ever (change) get well, so why keep trying?
  1. I Can Stop Some Of The Behaviours But Not All Of Them
    1. I could stop purging but I will not be able to eat more
    2. My eating has gotten better, but my exercise is out of control
  1. I Can Stop The Behaviours, But Not My Thoughts
    1. I can’t stop thinking about food and bingeing all the time
    2. I keep counting calories over and over in my head and still want to lose weight
  1. I Am Often Free From Behaviours and Thoughts But Not All The Time
    1. I feel fine all day, but under stress I revert back to my unhealthy behaviours
    2. I was fine, but wearing a bathing suit triggered my eating disorder thoughts, and with it some related behaviours
  1. I Am Free From Behaviours And Thoughts
    1. I feel mostly okay in my body and am able to eat things I want and not feel guilty or anxious afterwards
    2. Once I had stopped the behaviours for a period of time, at some point I realized that I was no longer having the thoughts or urges
  1. I Am Recovered
    1. For a long time now, I no longer have thoughts, feelings or behaviours related to my eating disorder
    2. I accept my body’s natural size. My eating disorder is a thing of the past.
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