How to Navigate Eating Disorder Recovery as a Working Adult


The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates that around 30 million people suffer from eating disorders. People of all ages, ethnicities, and races are affected. As a working adult, it can be difficult to navigate the workplace when you’re recovering from an eating disorder. Here are some tips to help you find support while maintaining professional boundaries.

Talk to Human Resources in Your Company


The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that eating disorders are mental health conditions under the ADA. You may be able to ask for accommodations under the ADA to help you manage your eating disorder recovery based on your own needs, such as:

·       Flexible schedule

·       Telework

·       Modified break schedule

·       Rest breaks

·       Policy modification

You will have to be your own advocate at work. The accommodations that you need may look very different than someone down the hall. You should also check with HR to find out if you have benefits available that will pay for continuing treatment. Many employers will work with good employees to find solutions that will keep you on the payroll.

Minimize Work-Related Triggers

You may have to learn to walk away from the break room and unhelpful conversations about food. It can help to speak up and ask that the conversation change. If you’re afraid of making waves, invest in a pair of headphones that will minimize your exposure to the talk about food around you.


Have a Meal Plan for Your Workday

Create a schedule to take meal and snack breaks. Know what you’re going to do for meals and snacks, whether you bring them from home or plan to go out. Use your calendar to block out times to eat and don’t reschedule these times.

Plan Activities That Help You Unwind After Work

After the workday, don’t go home and excessively watch Netflix or play on your phone. Do something that refreshes your mind and body. Engage in a sport. Take a class where you learn something new. Plan to be with friends. Put your phone down and read.  

Use Your Personal Support Resources   


Dealing with workplace issues when you’re not in recovery can be difficult enough. Go home and talk to your friends and family about your emotions or difficulties. You aren’t alone in your walk, even though it can feel that way. Sometimes, just speaking to a friend or loved one can help you think about new solutions to manage your eating disorder recovery.

Overcoming an eating disorder is difficult regardless of one’s age, gender, etc. For working adults, eating disorder recovery adds another challenge to daily life filled with deadlines, responsibilities, and expectations. However, with the right plan and support system, that obstacle can be overcome as well.

“If you or someone you love is navigating eating disorder recovery as a working adult, try adding some of these tips to your plan. They can help minimize workplace stressors, prevent relapse, and encourage long-term wellness.”



 Dan Gellman is the Director of High Focus Centers, a provider of eating disorder treatment, outpatient rehab, and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey. For 20 years, High Focus Centers has provided holistic, evidence-based treatment to help clients achieve long-term wellness.

Crystal CampoverdeComment