Coping Skills to Use During Eating Disorder Recovery

Coping Skills to Use During Eating Disorder Recovery

Coping Skills to Use During Eating Disorder Recovery

Table of Contents

Written By:
Jennifer Lefton, MS, RD/N, FAND

Key Takeaways

If you are recovering from an eating disorder, you will need coping skills to help you. The therapy and coping skills that will work best for you will be different from your peers. What works for others, may not work for you.

It is up to you to find your personal coping skills. Below are suggested coping skills that may help you during your recovery. 

What are Coping Skills for Eating Disorder Recovery?

Coping skills are behavioral patterns that are developed (or need to be developed) to enhance a person's adaptation. They may be used to work through stressful situations, such as newly diagnosed anxiety disorder, or other medical conditions, including eating disorders.

Helpful coping skills can vary from person to person. It may require some trials to find what skills will help you through recovery from an eating disorder.

Coping Skills for Eating Disorders

Below are some coping skills that you may find helpful during recovery:

Find your support system

Find a support system in people that are close to you and will take the time to understand how to be helpful during recovery.

Friends may mean well but don’t always know what to say. Friends and family who take the time to understand what you are going through can be really beneficial.

You may want to have a few responses ready when close ones ask “how can I best support you?” This may be things like “it would help to avoid discussing dieting around me”, “avoid encouraging me to just eat more”, or “it would help if you don’t make comments about anyone's food choices”. 

Your support system should include your therapist and a Registered Dietitian. If support groups are available in your area, consider attending a meeting. You may find support through new friends who understand the recovery experience firsthand.

If you don’t have a Registered Dietitian that you work with, Nourish can help you find one that's covered by insurance.

Consider journaling your thoughts and goals

Putting down your thoughts and feelings on paper may help to release any negative thoughts or pent-up emotions. Journaling your thoughts specific to meals may also help you discover certain foods or situations that may be triggers. Writing down your goals makes you feel more committed to them. 

Others find that journaling gratitude is a great way to start the day on a positive note. Shifting your outlook to being thankful for who you are or what you have instead of wishing for something else will only help in the long run.

Incorporate relaxation into your day

Find your favorite way to relax - consider a hot bath, reading a favorite book, or a new craft (knitting, needlepoint, painting). Getting a massage or facial can also be very relaxing. 

Try meditation

Meditation is a practice in which one uses mindfulness to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally stable state of mind. There are several apps that offer meditation and some are offered free of charge.

Try taking yoga classes

Yoga combines breathing techniques with body movement that will help your body slow down and may help you to control your emotional responses to triggers or negative feelings.

Consider a new hobby or learn a new skill

Taking art classes for painting, pottery or photography or learning how to knit or sew could be a great new hobby. Also, learning how to play a musical instrument could be a good activity during your free time. Having a hobby will help to fill the time that you may have spent researching nutrition or calculating calories in your pre-recovery life.

Have positive affirmations - write them on a sticky note and affix them to your bathroom mirror. Say them out loud to yourself when you see them in the morning. 

Positive affirmations can be as simple as “you are strong” or “you are worthy” to something about the recovery process such as “it’s hard but it will be worth it and you can do it”.

Try saying positive statements to help you counter the negative thoughts and statements. Saying the same positive statement for a month will help make it become a part of you. 

Plan social events with family and friends but keep it simple

Head to the movies to see a favorite actor or out to listen to some live music. Visit an art gallery to view the artwork of a favorite painter. 

Avoid diet culture conversations

Diet culture is can be heavily woven into our daily lives and discussions. When others start talking negatively about themselves or sharing diets they plan to start, you can either excuse yourself and walk away, try to change the topic, or inform them why diet culture-based conversations can be harmful. 

Monitor your habits and routines and change them if appropriate

Identify your triggers and try to make changes to your life that support your recovery journey.

A common habit that most of us struggle with is spending too much time on social media. The use of social media has been linked to poorer body image and disordered eating.1

If social media plays a large role in your own body image thoughts, you may consider deleting these apps from your phone. 

If you don’t want to delete the apps, you may want to unfollow any feeds that contribute to negative feelings about your body, what you are eating, or life in general. There are also accounts that promote body positivity or healthy living that could be helpful to you in learning how to cope with anorexia or bulimia.


Part of your recovery will be finding what coping skills for eating disorders will work best for you. Having coping skills that work best for you is crucial during recovery.


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