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Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention Planning & MEET THE BENEDETTO'S

Cover of the book Meet the Benedetto's by Katie Cotugno as a teaching example for Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention Planning

June is the oldest Benedetto sister. Her early years were modest and private until her family struck it rich. They moved to a mansion, switched schools, made new friends, and starred on a Kardashian-like reality TV show. June’s body was publicly scrutinized, and she developed an eating disorder (anorexia). Three rounds of inpatient treatment later, she was in recovery.

Life for the Benedetto sisters was never calm, but now it’s particularly chaotic. June’s family home is likely to be foreclosed on, the family is in financial ruin, her boyfriend is ghosting her, and June is relapsing – her anorexia is back. She’s skipping meals, lying about eating, rapidly losing weight and fainting.

Relapses are frequently part of recovery. Planning helps ensure that relapses are short-term bumps in the road, not long-term backslides. Here are tips for eating disorder relapse prevention and planning:

Know Your Red (& Yellow) Flags: Don’t let early warning signs (yellow flags) and danger signs (red flags) go unnoticed. Yellow flags include secrecy around food, decreasing meal size, subjective binges, increased thoughts around food, and outsized negative emotions. Red flags include skipping meals, weight shifts, binging, purging, obsessive thoughts about food or body image, and an inability to tolerate feelings.

Safety Plan For High Risk Situations: Consider the scenarios, people, and places that stress you out. When you are about to encounter one of these high-risk situations, pre-plan your meals, coping skills, and support team.

Deal With Setbacks: If you experience warning signs or struggle to handle a high-risk situation, see it as an opportunity for growth – not a failure. Setbacks are normal. The sooner you acknowledge the problem, get help, process the feelings, and shift your behaviors, the easier things will be long term.

Empower Your Supports: Tell friends, family, treatment team professionals, and others who support you about your red and yellow flags and plans for high-risk situations.  Ask them to check in, provide gentle redirection, and honestly share if they are concerned about you.

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