People often think of relapse as something that only happens with individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). This is false. The truth is that relapses can happen with many issues of mental health, especially for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder. For this reason, it is critical to focus on an eating disorder recovery relapse prevention plan for when they return home from a treatment center.
Understanding the Prevalence of Eating Disorders Among Adolescents
According to data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), “The lifetime prevalence of eating disorders among U.S. adolescents aged 13 to 18 years… was 2.7%. Eating disorders were more than twice as prevalent among females (3.8%) than males (1.5%)” and this “[p]revalence increased modestly with age.” Now, while this may not seem like a significant percentage, based on population, this is over half a million young people who are struggling with an eating disorder at any given time in the U.S. alone.
These statistics can be addressed through two perspectives. The first would be to get discouraged and distance ourselves from the problem. The second would be to become motivated and take action to address the issues with adolescent eating disorders.
One of the best ways to address adolescent eating disorders is to be vigilant regarding how young people are interacting with the world around them. This is especially helpful for parents of young women. There is a lot of misinformation and body shaming going on in today’s social media sphere, and young women are getting inundated with it. Now, while this toxic messaging is, of course, not solely responsible for adolescent eating disorders, it is certainly contributing to the problem. Thus, staying on top of the content that our daughters consume online can be crucial.
Treatment Options for Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating
What if an eating disorder has gone undetected and now requires treatment? The good news is that many effective treatment modalities can help young women recover from eating disorders and/or issues of disordered eating. A big aspect of eating disorder recovery involves the use of psychotherapy. This therapy resides primarily in three categories: individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and nutrition therapy.
Psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help young women get to the underlying emotional issues that are often the cause of their disordered behaviors. Group therapy can help individuals relate to others that have gone through similar experiences with eating disorders. This reliability can help with communication and can inspire indivdiuals to maintain forward momentum in their recovery. Lastly, nutrition therapy (also known as nutritional therapy) can help individuals change their behaviors regarding food and eating so they can utilize them moving forward in their recovery. It also helps individuals learn about the importance of healthy eating.
According to the article New Approaches to Nutritional Therapy, “Nutritional Therapy is also concerned with the way that foods are prepared and delivered for consumption. In order for foods to be therapeutically beneficial, the appropriate micro- and macronutrients must be delivered in a nutritionally dense format without contaminants.” Nutrition therapy is also something that must be incorporated into an effective eating disorder recovery relapse prevention plan.
What an Effective Eating Disorder Recovery Relapse Prevention Plan Looks Like
Many people don’t realize that eating disorders are also often categorized as “process issues.” What this means is that many individuals struggling with eating disorders become attached to the feelings that their process behaviors produce. These are processes such as binging and purging, overexercising, and undereating. Many individuals will feel psychological withdrawal symptoms when these processes are tempered.
It is this “withdrawal factor” that can leave so many young women susceptible to eating disorder relapse. However, an effective relapse prevention plan can help parents support their daughters through these trying times. The following are just a few options that can be utilized in an eating disorder relapse prevention plan:
- Being more vigilant over social media consumption
- Monitoring the amount and types of exercise they are engaging in
- Allowing them to take some control over their meal planning
- Addressing any secretive or deceptive eating disorder behaviors immediately
- Ensuring that an open line of communication is present
- Connect them with a local eating disorder recovery community
The Eating Disorder Recovery Mission at Clearview Girls Academy
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we understand the intense pressure that young people, especially young women, are put under in today’s often superficial social media-driven world. That is why we approach our students with empathy, compassion, and understanding.
In John 15:12, Jesus Christ tells his followers, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” We teach our students to do the same, but only after we first teach them to love themselves again.
Eating disorder recovery can be particularly difficult because unlike other disorders, like substance use disorder (SUD) for example, abstinence from food is obviously not an option. This means that an eating disorder recovery plan needs to be utilized and supported by the entire family, especially the parents. Parents can be integral in supporting healthy nutrition, responsible exercise, and comprehensive meal plans for their daughters. An effective eating disorder recovery plan will also help parents notice warning signs of a potential relapse. If you feel like your daughter may be struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating, we can help. For more information on how to implement an effective eating disorder recovery plan, contact Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.