There’s very little consensus about the definition of recovery in the eating disorder field. As eating disorder expert Sarah Ravin, Ph.D, told me in an interview here on Weightless:
Some research studies loosely define recovery as no longer meeting full criteria for the eating disorder. For example, recovery from AN could involve restoring weight to the point that the person is above 85% of IBW (Ideal Body Weight) and menstruating. Other research studies define recovery from AN as being at 95% of IBW or 100% of IBW and getting regular periods. Bulimia nervosa (BN) recovery is typically defined as abstinence from bingeing and purging, or infrequent bingeing and purging (e.g. once a month).
One of the problems with this definition is that it dismisses the cognitive and emotional parts of recovery. As Ravin said:
Many research studies fail to consider the cognitive and emotional aspects of recovery, which usually persist for at least a few months after weight restoration and cause a tremendous amount of distress for the sufferer. In addition, many behavioral symptoms may persist (e.g. avoidance of fats, food rituals, rigid or excessive exercise regimens) long after the person is weight restored and no longer bingeing or purging.