Using Smart Recovery for Healing Disordered Eating

Smart Recovery is a program that focuses on addiction recovery, including substance abuse and behavioral addictions. While it may not be specifically designed for eating disorders, some of its principles and techniques could be adapted to help individuals struggling with an eating disorder. 

The following steps may provide some guidance on how you can incorporate SMART Recovery principles:

  1. Assess the Severity: Start by understanding the severity of the eating disorder. You or your loved one should consult with a healthcare provider or mental health specialist to determine the extent of the problem and create an appropriate treatment plan.


  1. Educate Yourself: Learn about eating disorders, their causes, and the associated physical and psychological effects. This knowledge can help you or your loved one better understand the condition and its impact.


  1. Set Specific Goals: Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) criteria, establish clear and realistic recovery goals. For example, a goal might be, “I will eat three balanced meals per day for the next month without engaging in any purging behaviors.”


  1. Develop Coping Strategies: Learn and practice coping strategies to deal with triggers and cravings. SMART Recovery emphasizes the importance of developing healthy coping mechanisms. This could include mindfulness techniques, journaling, deep breathing exercises, or talking to a support network when struggling.


  1. Attend Support Meetings: Look for SMART Recovery meetings in your area or online. While these meetings may not specifically focus on eating disorders, they can provide a structured and supportive environment where you can discuss your challenges and progress with like-minded individuals.


  1. Mindfulness and Self-Acceptance: Incorporate mindfulness practices to increase self-awareness and self-acceptance. Eating disorders often involve negative self-perceptions, and mindfulness can help shift your focus towards self-compassion and self-improvement.


  1. Seek Professional Help: Eating disorders often require specialized treatment from healthcare professionals, such as therapists, dietitians, and medical doctors. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and medical monitoring may be necessary components of recovery.


  1. Build a Support Network: Share your journey with trusted friends and family members who can offer emotional support and encouragement. Consider joining eating disorder support groups or seeking individual therapy.


  1. Track Progress: Continuously monitor your progress toward your recovery goals. Adjust your goals as needed and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.


  1. Practice Self-Compassion: Be patient and kind to yourself throughout the recovery process. Remember that setbacks are common, but they do not define your progress.


Remember that overcoming an eating disorder can be a challenging and long-term process. It’s essential to work closely with healthcare professionals who specialize in eating disorder treatment. SMART Recovery principles can complement this professional help and provide additional tools for managing cravings and triggers.


Ready to take the next step in your healing journey? Get in touch for a free intake session.