Bulimia Rehab - What to expect & what you need to know

Catherine Liberty's picture

There are two words that can undeniably strike fear into the heart of anyone suffering with bulimia - and they are “Bulimia Rehab.”

Even if you have willingly asked for help and really want to recover often fear of the unknown and simply not knowing what to expect from eating disorder rehabilitation can cause a lot of anxiety.

What is bulimia rehab?

When we talk about "bulimia rehab" we really just mean any kind of bulimia treatment centre that allows someone to become rehabilitated - to transform their lives or become “renewed.”

Although usually when people talk about bulimia rehabilitation they are referring to inpatient bulimia treatment (hospitalisation) or bulimia treatment centres (generalised eating disorder rehab centres)

Inpatient Bulimia Rehab (Hospitalisation)

For many people not knowing what to expect of inpatient eating disorder treatment is both confusing and scary.

The points below will help you to understand what to expect from inpatient treatment facilities - obviously the exact details and experiences may differ but in general these are some of the things you can expect:

  • When you go for inpatient treatment you will usually stay in a hospital environment for the entire duration.
  • Inpatient treatment usually lasts between 3 weeks and 3 months
  • If you are underweight you will be expected to gain weight during your stay,
  • This weight gain can be anything from 1-4 lbs per week.
  • You will be weighed 1-2 times a week.
  • You will have a special meal plan created that usually consitis of three meals and three snakcs - just like structured eating.
  • You will have supported meal times, meaning staff members will always be around to ensure you finish your meals and snacks.
  • You will eat your meals and snacks with other people.
  • You may have your heart rate monitored and may be given an IV drip.
  • Usually your blood is taken once a week.
  • Usually you meet with a psychatrist once a week.
  • You may meet with an occupational therapist who can teach you life skills, new coping skills stress management and even art therapy.
  • You will generally meet with a dietitian once a week..
  • You may see your doctor on a daily basis.
  • Some in patient facilities provide therapy while others do not.
  • Most inpatient facilities do not have very structured days (although some do)
  • If you are at risk of purging you will not be able to use the bathroom alone (assisted bathroom time)

Bulimia Treatment Centres

Eating disorder treatment centres are very different to traditional inpatient facilities, although if you are unsure of what to expect then you can still find yourself becoming very anxious and worried.

The points below will help you to understand what to expect if you’re going to a bulimia treatment centre (bulimia rehab). Can you see how they are different from traditional inpatient facilities?

  • Treatment centres have very home-like atmospheres where you will have your own bedroom and share kitchen and living area facilities.
  • Many cater to around 10 people at any one time (obviously this will vary depending on the specific facility)
  • You will have daily schedules and some free time each day (although free time can be limited)
  • You should expect every day to be very structured.
  • All meal times will be supported, you will eat with others and even help to prepare the meals.
  • Each day you should expect to take part in different group therapy or “talking together” sessions.
  • Each day you should expect to take part in themed classes - where you talk about things like feelings, relationships, body image or nutrition.
  • You will usually receive some individual therapy sessions.
  • You will meet with a dietician once a week to talk about your meal plan.
  • You will receive additional support before and after meals.
  • You will be expected to set yourself new recovery goals each week.
  • Many treatment centres allow you to leave at the weekend.
  • A lot of treatment centres run 3 month long programs (although again this can vary).


Remember if you’re worried about what to expect from bulimia rehab facilities should always be more than happy to discuss their treatment programs with you. 

If you'd like to locate bulimia rehab facilities in your area then you can contact your doctor or a local eating disorder charity such as BEAT or NEDA for further information.


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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


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