8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder

Colorado CBT is one of Denver’s leading clinics in supporting those with eating disorders. Our providers are extensively experienced in working with and healing eating disorders of all forms. 

One of the approaches that our practitioners involve in the process of healing an eating disorder is the “8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder.” These keys come from a book called, 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies From Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience, by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb. This book has been monumental for practitioners and patients working with eating disorders. The 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder help individuals establish a clear and healthy relationship with food and eating, for life.

Key One: Motivation, Patience, and Hope

The first key is about motivating the process of recovering, and the effort that is required on this journey. There are emotions and thoughts that come with this effort, and this key helps equip patients for what will come up along the way. Perfectionism, for example, is a strong emotion and pattern that comes up as the patient begins their recovery journey. Knowing the possible areas of difficulty helps prepare patients for what is coming, which is a necessary and empowering step.

Key Two: Your Healthy Self Will Heal Your Eating Disorder Self

The second key helps the patient understand that there are different parts of themselves at play. While they may be most familiar with their eating disorder self, there is a healthy self there waiting to step in. During this step, patients get to know their healthy self and give it a voice again.

Key Three: It's Not About The Food

During this key, the patient starts to look at what is underneath the eating disorder. The eating disorder and the relationship with food actually indicates what is going on emotionally and how the patient navigates other areas of their life. Understanding that the eating disorder isn’t about the food allows the patient to more intimately understand their own emotions, and how they can be turned into a positive.

Key Four: Feel Your Feeling, Challenge Your Thoughts

In this step, we look at the process of thought, feeling, urge, and action. The patient learns how to relate to their thoughts more healthily, and how to not be controlled by the negative ones. In this phase, the patient starts to understand their eating disorder as a “critical voice,” which is a very important step in reclaiming their own power.

Key Five: It Is About The Food

At the end of the day, healing an eating disorder does come down to the patient’s relationship with food. In this key, the patient examines their food rules and limitations, as well as goals. As such an important part of recovery, the patient learns how to cultivate a healthy and happy relationship with eating.

Key Six: Changing Your Behaviors

After understanding thoughts more deeply, the patient is ready to look more closely at the eating disorder behaviors and how to change them. The patient begins to understand the emotions behind behaviors, and how to process them healthily versus sabotaging their own recovery. 

Key Seven: Reach Out to People Rather Than Your Eating Disorder

It can be very isolating to struggle with an eating disorder, and there can be big resistance to reaching out to others for help. But reaching out is a key part of recovery. In this phase, the patient learns the importance of connecting with others, and how to communicate versus turning back to the familiarity of the eating disorder. 

Key Eight: Finding Meaning and Purpose

The final key gives the recovery process deep meaning. It takes the patient into the more spiritual understanding of the process, as they discover their individual purpose. This purpose and discovery of the “soul self” is how the patient moves beyond their eating disorder and into a fulfilled, healthy life.

While the 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder are a set of steps that our practitioners utilize in eating disorder recovery, the process is customized for each patient. The 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder are merely a guide which have become widely known as a successful approach to recovery.