Are You In Quasi Recovery From Anorexia?

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Anorexia | 0 comments

Home » Anorexia » Are You In Quasi Recovery From Anorexia?

If you think you may have an eating disorder it is important to seek advice from your GP or health professional. The information in this blog post is intended for information purposes only and is not a substitute for personalised clinical advice. 

Recovering from anorexia isn’t straightforward. In the ups and downs of the journey you might find yourself in quasi recovery.

Have you managed to gain some weight back and improve your eating habits, but still feel consumed by thoughts about food and body weight? You might be stuck in quasi recovery.

Together we will talk about what quasi recovery is, why it’s different from full recovery, why it might be holding you back, and how to move forward.

What is quasi recovery?

Quasi recovery is like having one foot in recovery and one in anorexia still. People in quasi recovery might have reached a healthy weight but still struggle with many complex rules about eating and experiences significant levels of psychological distress.

Family and friends might think you are better and stopped worrying about your eating. But you continue to feel overwhelmed by eating, feel extremely anxious when eating routines need to change, or still struggle significantly with how you see your body and fear of gaining weight.

Quasi recovery is very different from full recovery. When someone is fully recovered, they are not only physically healthy but have repaired their relationship with food. That means being able to eat with spontaneity, without guilt or fear, accepting your body without judgement, and living a life that is in line with your values.

Being fully recovered isn’t black and white. There is no finish point that you can get to and know that you are there. You might still have occasional days where you don’t like your body or have negative thoughts about food. We can’t control the thoughts that come into our head, but we can chose to respond to ourselves with compassion and focus on the things in our lives that are most important to us. And the more we do this, the less you will experience anorexia related thoughts.

Signs you’re in quasi recovery

If you’re not sure if you are in quasi recovery, here are some signs to look out for:

  • You’ve gained back some weight, but it remain at the absolute minimum healthy range or less.
  • You have accepted the need to gain weight but want to do this by increasing muscle mass only, with no increase in body fat.
  • You avoid looking in mirrors or try to hide your body with baggy clothes.
  • You still have lots of fear foods that you wouldn’t consider eating.
  • You still count calories and/or stick to a rigid meal plan.
  • You can eat enough to maintain your weight but feel like you must exercise a lot to ‘make up’ for the food you have eaten.
  • Changes to your meal plan make you feel extremely anxious.
  • You still think you are fat and cope by trying to entirely avoid thinking about what you look like.
  • You can’t eat in response to hunger if it means going “off plan” with your meals.
  • You can go out to restaurants but feel you need to restrict earlier in the day to compensate.

Pitfalls and risks

People often get stuck in quasi recovery because they are very scared that full recovery might mean they end up gaining weight uncontrollably. But being stuck in quasi recovery might actually be the hardest part of recovering from anorexia.  

You have made so many changes to your eating and are probably challenging anorexia nearly every day, but you aren’t yet experiencing the benefits of recovery. Other people may be expecting you to get on with life, but don’t realise how much you are still struggling.

Quasi recovery keeps you stuck for several reasons:

  • Having lots of rules around eating gives our brains messages that food is dangerous and needs to be strictly controlled. That keeps you feeling highly anxious about food and our brain doesn’t learn that we can eat without things getting out of control.
  • If you always have to compensate for eating (e.g., with exercising), you never get to test out whether you can eat intuitively without gaining weight uncontrollably.
  • If you’re stuck in quasi recovery, you probably also spent a lot of time thinking about food or weight. This can make it hard to concentrate on anything else, stop you from enjoying time with friends or family, and prevent you from fully engaging in life!
  • If you are keeping your weight artificially below your natural set-point, you have to do that by keeping strict control over food. This means you won’t be able to eat in response to your hunger and this will keep you thinking about food all the time.  

How to move forward

Quasi recovery might feel safe, but it actually keeps you struggling psychologically. So how do you move forward?

The first step is to recognise if you’re in quasi recovery. If you are, it’s time to be really honest with yourself about this and notice all the things it is taking away from your life.  

Take some time to reconnect with the things that are really important to you. Do you want to be able to say yes to invitations from friends without second guessing yourself? Maybe you want to throw yourself into university? Or do you dream of having your own family?

Write these down and keep them somewhere you can read when you have moments when you’re struggling. You could even record a voice note for yourself, reminding yourself about the future you deserve to have.

Reach out to a loved one and let them know how you are doing. Can they help nudge you in the right direction when you might otherwise choose a ‘safe’ food?

Try reading some content from other people that have been in your scenario. The BEAT website has a post on quasi recovery. And Tabitha Farrar has written extensively about fully recovering from anorexia.

Start to really challenge all the rules anorexia has developed over time. You can start by doing this one by one (e.g., eating takeaway pizza, wearing a swimsuit). But you might get to the point where you want to develop a new rule. For example, doing the opposite whenever anorexia tries to tell you what to do. This might be scary, but the more you throw yourself in the more you will get out of it and the quicker you will experience the freedom of full recovery!


Do you need help to move from quasi recovery to full recovery? I’ve written a full guide to recovering from anorexia here.

You can find a full guide to finding a good eating disorder therapist here. Or reach out and book a free consultation to find out whether we might be the right fit for you.

About

Welcome. I'm Dr Jenny Davis, a Clinical Psychologist with a special interest in eating disorders. I'm passionate about helping people recover and build a healthy relationship with food. 

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