Preventing Bulimia Relapse

A relapse into behaviors that you know are toxic can be very disheartening. In the extreme, a relapse can mean giving up altogether and going back to previous, harmful binge eating habits. Preventing a relapse is better than going through the pain of recognizing this unwanted and damaging routine is still with you. Here are some tips to avoid going back to old ways.


Your significant others should be aware of your problems. You can use a neutral presentation, comparing it to an allergy, diabetes or any other medical condition. Framed this way, they will be happy to “watch your back.”

What this means in practice is that others can keep your situation in mind. For example, not going with you to restaurants where people normally eat by the mouthful or where portions are excessive. This includes home meals and take out. Tell them that high cholesterol foods are dangerous for you.

They should also know that it is better for you to eat small snacks than allow yourself to become very hungry. Fruits or other easy to munch foods should be part of your everyday environment.

Monitor Yourself

There’s a familiar mindset that comes into play, a kind of mental habit you recognize. Playing this script out to the end will lead to a relapse and a binge. Interrupting yourself with a 30 minute stress break can stop that in it’s tracks.

As part of your eating plan, your therapist has shared some mental exercises to help you change the way you look at food and deal with thoughts about body image. Use these, even if you don’t put much faith in them. Stick to your eating plan and reward yourself when you accomplish your goals. This kind of self-talk is important and has to be used even when you aren’t tempted. Realize that practice when it’s easy will help you when you do get the urge.

Understand Your Limits

None of us is perfect. When you feel you are reaching your limits and likely to relapse, seek help. You should have someone you can contact in a crisis or when you’ve slipped. Lying about overeating or purging will save you a small bit of embarrassment, but ultimately is a way to go right back into the chaos of bulimia.

Understand that even if you are doing significantly better, bulimia isn’t curable and is considered a lifelong condition. If you do relapse, it isn’t the end of the world, but can serve a purpose. A relapse tips you off to the seriousness of the condition and will wake you up to what you need to do to protect against the next one.

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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