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How to Unlock Stages of Change in Eating Disorder Recovery

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Are you struggling to progress in your eating disorder or mental health recovery? Understanding the stages of change can be helpful in identifying current readiness for change, barriers that are present, and how you'd like to navigate your recovery journey.

Eating disorder awareness, sharing with a loved one

Pre-contemplation Stage

The pre-contemplation stage is when one is unaware or in denial about their need to change. Loved ones may be aware that the individual is experiencing an eating disorder through the presented signs and symptoms and try to intervene or express concerns.


Raising awareness about the eating disorder and the health consequences that may occur if left untreated. This can be impactful in helping the individual move to the next stage of change, contemplation.

Eating disorder therapist eating disorder dietitian

Contemplation Stage

When in the contemplation stage of change, the individual admits that there is an eating disorder present. They may be able to recognize this mental illness but struggle with implementing necessary changes. Exploring what eating disorder recovery may look like, what treatment options are available, and connecting with providers can be helpful in moving forward with the preparation stage of change.

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Preparation Stage

We've recognized the eating disorder is present and needs to be addressed, we've contemplated what that journey may look like, and now we're preparing for treatment. During the preparation stage, it's important to find a treatment team that best fits one's unique needs.


Research treatment options in the area that specializes in eating disorders for therapy and nutrition, connect on the phone to address questions and concerns, then secure a date and time to meet for treatment. Once the treatment plan is prepared, it's time for the action stage of change.

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Action Stage

During the action stage of change, an individual is taking steps toward eating disorder recovery. Meeting with a treatment team for an intake assessment, getting started with meal support and a meal plan, and forming a support system are all forms of action that can be helpful in getting started with recovery.

Body dysmorphia, body image, eating disorder recovery

Maintenance Stage

Throughout eating disorder treatment, individuals form healthy behaviors around food and body, challenge barriers and harmful thoughts, and make recovery-focused actions for about six months. It's important to understand that eating disorder recovery is not a linear process and that's to be expected.


One may find themselves going from the action stage to contemplation or maintenance to preparation. There's nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board, forming new intentions, and implementing different strategies, if they're aligned with recovery.


If you're struggling to move along the stages of change, you're not alone. It can be challenging to implement behavioral changes, especially when facing a mental illness like an eating disorder. Eating disorders are life-threatening and shouldn't be faced alone.


If you're looking for a treatment team to meet you in your current state, help form realistic and attainable intentions, and cheer you on towards a recovered and healthy life, reach out today. We offer in-house therapy and nutrition to provide well-rounded treatment through telehealth services in Maryland, DC, Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, and California.


With Pearls of Wisdom,

Eden & Kira


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