Feeding and Medical Challenges

Eating Disorder Recovery

May 31, 2018   /


How to Know if You are Getting Better


Reviewed and updated by Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, LDN 


While eating disorders are a mental illness, many physical manifestations of the disease exist.  Figuring out if you are getting better has both objective and nonobjective criteria. Just as each eating disorder is different for each individual, recovery may come in different pieces for each individual. Sometimes the mind heals and the body takes a while to catch up, while often the reverse is true.


Eating Disorder Resources
Children's Health Info Center

The following are some things to look for in yourself or your loved one. This will help you in determining if you or your loved one is improving.


Objective criteria of recovery


  • Do not weigh yourself all the time
  • Maintain a healthy weight without starving, purging, or overexercising
  • Have a regular menstrual cycle (females)
  • Have hair that is healthy, and not falling out, brittle, or dry
  • Can tolerate cold temperatures
  • Have a functioning gastrointestinal tract, without nausea, bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Are able to sleep throughout the night
  • Do not purchase diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or ipecac
  • Do not purchase large quantities of food
  • Do not hide food
  • Can eat with others
  • Do not wear clothing that does not fit or is too loose


Subjective criteria of recovery


  • Are no longer afraid of food or eating
  • Eat all foods (carbohydrates, fats, protein, sweets, salty foods, and crunchy foods)
  • Recognize feelings of hunger and fullness, and respond to them appropriately
  • Do not feel anxious about eating
  • Do not think obsessively about food—hours or days can pass without thinking about food as primary thought or focus
  • Are not terrified by the number on the scale or the size of your clothing
  • Can exercise without feeling out of control or compelled to exert further
  • Do not feel guilty when you do not exercise, eat too much, or choose dessert
  • Are not continually focused on your body image or weight
  • Have energy
  • Have improved relationships with others
  • Are not as easily irritated, tired, or frustrated
  • Are no longer using food inappropriately
  • Crave foods and eat them without feeling guilt


References and recommended readings

  1. Pediatric Nutrition Care Manual®. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Web site [by subscription]. www.nutritioncaremanual.org. Accessed April 30, 2018.
  2. Eating disorder recovery tips and self-help. Eating Disorder HOPE website. https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/recovery/self-help-tools-skills-tips. Accessed April 30, 2018.


Current review date: 5/31/18

Previous review date: 6/5/13