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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.



Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.


Eating Disorder Relapse or Recovery Opportunity?Light and clarity are near. Hold on. Storms pass.

During this pandemic, women write they fear they are having an eating disorder relapse. They report that they are binge eating. They report that they are worthless and doomed to failure. They do not recognize recovery in action.

If you are feeling eating disorder storms and believe you are in the midst of an eating disorder relapse, you can learn to respond with recovery thinking.

Eating Disorder Relapse Thinking

Wanting to take action and taking action are very different. Feelings and thoughts, familiar from when you were dominated by an eating disorder, go like this:

  • "I want to quit therapy."
  • "I want to throw furniture around the room."
  • "I want to tear up all the loose paper in my house."
  • "I want to cry in the corner and not pick up my children from school."
  • "I want to scream at my husband in restaurants."
  • "I want to run, yelling, out of my house in the middle of the night."
  • "I want to binge."
  • "I want to cut myself."
  • "I want to throw up."
  • "I want to zone out in front of the TV with piles of food."

Not taking action means you are bearing your feelings. You are moving beyond your comfort zone, partially created by your eating disorder.

Every moment you feel these "wants" and don't act out you are getting stronger. You are meeting areas in your heart, psyche and soul that need TLC as you learn what helps you to grow beyond these primitive ways of finding costly relief.

Is it an eating disorder relapse if you want to act out?

Just because you want to do something doesn't mean you have to. Emotional storms pass. When it does, if you can bear your feelings and not act out, you won't have to deal with a messy aftermath.

You'll feel good about yourself. Plus, you'll be that much stronger and healthier for your next challenge.

Is it a relapse if you act out for a day or two?

Not necessarily. If you have been in recovery for a substantial period of time and then find yourself acting out, you are getting a powerful signal that self-understanding and psychological work is needed. Acting out doesn't have to mean you are back where you were.

Your eating disorder relapse probably indicates that during this pandemic, you are experiencing new kinds of stress. You are experiencing frustration, anger or anxiety that comes from new and different challenges.

In your past recovery work, you brought yourself to where you could be stable, confident and clear of your eating disorder behaviors in your normal life. But life is not normal now. Your psyche will reach for familiar coping mechanisms to deal with your suffering.

But the recovery work you've done is still with you. Your eating disorder thinking and actual behaviors are signals that you need to address new challenges through personal growth and understanding.

This is a time to go back to your recovery work. Journal, write down your dreams. Get back into psychotherapy for a while.

Use your eating disorder relapse as a strong signal that your psyche wants help. And give yourself the help you need. Knowing how to respond to an eating disorder relapse means you recognize your needs and how to provide yourself with what your psyche calls for now.

This is a sign not of eating disorder relapse but of ongoing recovery, thinking and self-care.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Written by Joanna Poppink, MFT. Joanna is a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in eating disorder recovery, stress, PTSD, and adult development.

She is licensed in CA, AZ, OR, FL, and UT. Author of the Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: Recovering from Your Eating Disorder

Appointments are virtual.

For a free telephone consultation, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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