What Are Eating Disorders & How To Recover

Eating disorders can damage your body, your relationships, and your mental health. But you can better understand the root causes of your eating disorder and get support along the path to recovery from the caring team at TheHopeLine.

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits, and an unhealthy relationship with food. You may eat too much, too little, or not at all. There are a variety of eating disorders, but some of the most prevalent symptoms across diagnoses include:

  • Starving oneself, or eating as little as possible
  • Severe or obsessive “dieting” that involves deprivation of food and/or stimulant drugs
  • Going as long as possible without meals
  • Becoming convinced that you are never thin enough, even if you are underweight for your height and age
  • Eating too much, until you are so full you’re in pain (binging)
  • Vomiting after you eat, either too relieve the pain of binge-eating, or in an attempt to lose more weight (purging)
  • Eating excessively (such as finishing entire containers of food, eating much more than a suggested serving, etc.)
  • Not changing your eating habits, even when a medical professional has warned you that your health and safety are at risk
  • Using laxatives, diuretics, or enemas in an attempt to lose more weight
  • Exercising more than recommended, beyond the point of pain and exhaustion

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to get help for your eating disorder immediately. Since your body needs to eat every day, eating disorders also become addictive behaviors, requiring additional support, mentoring, and monitoring.

Common Needs Behind Eating Disorders

Many people we talk to at TheHopeLine who are recovering from eating disorders have expressed a deeper need that drives their behavior beyond simply the desire to lose weight. Everyone’s situation is different, but many people develop an eating disorder out of an attempt to regain control in their life after a traumatic or painful experience.

Some people are trying to appease an abusive partner in a toxic relationship by manipulating their appearance. Some people with eating disorders have such difficult struggles with their body image and self-worth that they feel compelled to starve themselves, soothe themselves with excessive amounts of food, or both.

Eating Disorder Recovery: Love and Acceptance

Whatever your situation, it’s time to stop blaming and punishing yourself for your eating disorder. You have no reason to be ashamed of your body. There are people who can help you break the cycle of unhealthy eating habits and reclaim a healthful relationship with food, along with a sense of contentment with your body.

If you believe you have an eating disorder, take a look at the following steps:

  • Visit a physician who can give you the proper diagnosis, and appropriate recommendations for specialized treatment. They will likely refer you to other professionals, such a nutritionist or a psychologist, who can provide additional guidance.
  • Consider a support group so that you feel less isolated in your recovery.
  • Tell people you trust about your diagnosis so that they can help you stick to your treatment plan.

TheHopeLine provides email mentorship and live chat support for people with food addiction and eating disorders. We will keep your information confidential and provide a listening ear in a judgement free space. Eating disorder recovery is possible – and it can start today.

Interested in learning more? Search our library of ebooks, podcasts, blogs, and more with questions about eating disorders:

  • Which mental health issues are connected to eating disorders?
  • How do I tell someone about my eating disorder?
  • Is God mad at me for my addictive behavior?

FAQ on Eating Disorders:

What are the signs of an eating disorder?

Eating issues can manifest themselves in many different ways, but there are two extremes: Some people are living on the obsessive side, such as constantly worrying about their weight, meticulously counting calories, compulsively exercising and/or living in fear of eating the wrong thing. Other people struggle with chaotic, out-of-control eating — especially in response to stress or emotional upset – and/or lack any structure or regularity of meals. Many people fall somewhere in between, leaning one way or the other, while others swing back and forth between the two extremes such as with yo-yo dieting. Does any of this sound familiar?

Learn more

See More

Most Recent Blogs on Eating Disorders

Disordered Eating: Do I Have an Eating Disorder?


Eating Issues Manifest in Many Different Ways Perhaps caring friends or family members are expressing concern about the way you eat. If you are completely honest with yourself, deep down inside you sense that something is wrong (although it is very common for those struggling with disordered eating to be in..Read more

Eating Disorders: What is OSFED?


OSFED Is the Most Common Eating Disorder OSFED stands for Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder – This is a classification given to a person who has symptoms of disordered eating or an eating disorder but does not present with all the symptoms of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating..Read more

5 Ways to Help a Friend Who Might Have an Eating Disorder


Eating disorders are a group of mental illnesses that can have very serious consequences on physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. If you have a friend who might have an eating disorder, it can feel scary to watch them struggle. But you are not powerless. Learning more about what your friend..Read more

Eating and Body Image Issues – Find Healthy Balance


Are you facing eating issues? Since eating and body image issues are so pervasive these days, it can be difficult to find healthy role models to emulate. Just what IS balance anyway? Well, there are many components to it, including the way we eat, our food choices, exercise habits, thought patterns..Read more

View More >

Videos on Eating Disorders:

eBooks on Eating Disorders :

Ask Dawson:

Stories on Eating Disorders :

Eating Disorder: I Stopped Eating to Become “Good Enough”


I had to think long and hard about if I should share my story. Then I came to the conclusion that it would be worth it if it lets someone else know they aren’t alone, and it could be therapeutic for me. So here is my story and what led..Read more

Covered My Pain with an Eating Disorder and Self-Harm


I started out with an eating disorder when I was fifteen-years-old.  I had my first hospitalization at age sixteen. I had twenty-seven more after that…some lasting a year. I’ve also been to a half-way house and day programs. An eating disorder wasn’t enough for me to cover my pain so..Read more

Disordered Eating


Because eating disorders are an attempt to control your body and your relationship with food, they can easily become addictive behaviors that make you feel trapped in a cycle of overeating, starvation, binging, and purging. But you’re not trapped – and there is always hope. Here's what it's like from..Read more

I’m Happier Now That I found Help for My Eating Disorder


“I feel happier!” I was just going to say, thank all of ya’ll for the help. Now, I’m not starving myself anymore, I’ve been eating more. Unfortunately, I haven’t gained any weight, but I feel better and have tons of energy. I’ve gotten my depression and anxiety under control, without..Read more

View More >

Resources for Eating Disorders :

Spiritual Perspective :

Verses of Hope

Free eBooks


Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God

Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God Do You Feel Like Life is Meaningless? Are you wondering what your purpose is? Do you have questions about what Christians believe or what it means to be a Christian? At TheHopeLine we believe real and lasting HOPE can only come through a relationship with Jesus. And this […]

View More >

Additional Resources

View More >