Treatment Options for Eating Disorders

There are several eating disorder treatment options for people who suffer from anorexia, bulimia or a binge eating disorder. From psychotherapy to educational classes and family therapy, the outpatient eating disorder treatment options are some of the most popular. For those with more serious issues, an inpatient eating disorder treatment program may be the best option.

If you would like help determining which eating disorder treatment option is best for you or if you are looking for a specific eating disorder treatment program in your neighborhood, call us today. We can help you find the mental health treatment you need.

Treatment Methods and Approaches


Psychotherapy is often the first line of defense when eating disorders are an issue. Psychiatrists that work on behaviors can help the individual learn how to let go of unhealthy habits and make more positive choices. Learning how to self monitor food intake and eating habits is crucial to the continued success of eating disorder treatment. Psychotherapy can be a big part of that alone or in conjunction with other eating disorder treatment options.

Weight Restoration and Nutrition Education+

Dieticians, nutritional counselors and your physician can help the individual get back to a healthy weight and learn how to maintain that weight without starving themselves or binging and purging. A focus on nutrients and food portions is a big part of nutrition education and will help the individual better self-regulate their eating habits at home.

Family Therapy+

Family therapy is an effective tool when the individual struggling with an eating disorder is a teen living at home. Here parents and children can talk about the stresses they face, the practical ways to create a more healthy environment, and learn how to communicate about the disorder to better assist the child in healing. Keeping your child accountable for his or her eating habits can help them progress more quickly during eating disorder treatment.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

There are countless eating disorder treatment centers located nationwide that specialize in treating all forms of this mental health  illness. They offer psychotherapy, medication if necessary, medical assistance in the event of co-occurring medical issues that resulted from an eating disorder and family therapy when appropriate. The intensive nature of the program means that the individual gets an immersive treatment that immediately puts into effect the new habits that are necessary for sustained recovery.

Who Needs Treatment

In the case of anorexia, the symptoms are so severe they interfere with the woman’s ability to function in day-to-day life. Anorexia tends to be more noticeable from an outward perspective as the drop in body weight is visibly apparent — whereas bulimic women can get away with hiding their behaviors. Binging and purging becomes a personal and secretive practice of which family members and friends are oblivious. Binge eating is characterized by compulsive overeating, often secretively. Individuals with this disorder report feeling a loss of control accompanied with the binges and a sensation of powerlessness over food. Guilt, shame, and regret immediately follow the binge.In all three types of eating disorders, afflicted individuals consistently share the phenomenon of low self-esteem and a preoccupation with food and weight. Mealtime presents itself as a normal, routine occurrence for “normal” people. For people with an eating disorder, mealtime can present a fear-filled entity looming ahead of them. Anxieties surround the mealtime. Racing thoughts ensue in the eating disordered mind. Such experiences are common to individuals with eating disorder and can be difficult for family members and friends to empathize. Common misconceptions that preclude action from being taken to combat the disorder:

  • “She’s just going through a phase, she’ll be fine”
  • “She must have a high metabolism”
  • Busy parents or spouses that are not attuned to changes in behavior or weight
  • Attributing the withdrawn behavior to a recent break-up, job loss, or other erroneous life event

Treatment for Women’s Eating Disorders

Once a specialist has been found, he or she will recommend drafting a treatment regimen that is customized to the woman’s financial resources, lifestyle, and existing obligations. A successful treatment plan encompasses a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Inpatient residential treatment in which ‘round the clock care is provided
  • Family therapy sessions with the chosen specialist
  • Eating disorder education through an outpatient treatment forum or through online resources
  • Medical monitoring – by the primary care physician or other qualified medical professional

It is important for family members and friends to understand that relapse is sometimes a part of the recovery path. Slipping in an eating disorder is common; it is how the disordered patient handles the obstacle that better determines success of the overall recovery regimen. Bouncing back from a slip is possible. In fact, a slip can often translate into a benefit in the disordered patient’s arsenal of relapse prevention tools.

For binge eaters, treatment exists in the form of Overeaters Anonymous exists as a viable 12-step program in which members share the common purpose of breaking self-destructive patterns of binge eating.

12-step programs that are classified as “open” welcome all members, including eating disordered patients, alcoholics, and addicts across the spectrum of mental disorders. 12-step meetings are free – the only cost is that of a small donation, if desired. Check local listings or request information from a physician or counselor as soon as possible.

What to Expect at Treatment

With so many eating disorder treatment options to choose from, it may be difficult to determine what exactly you should be looking for or what you can expect from your treatment. Here are some of the things you can expect to gain from your eating disorder treatment, no matter which option you choose:

  • Maintain and boost your self esteem. Self esteem is a big issue when eating disorders are concerned. You can expect your eating disorder treatment program option to address the issue and work to boost self esteem in all areas, including body consciousness.
  • Reality check. Eating disorders often leave individuals comparing themselves to an impossible standard. Rather than encouraging that, eating disorder treatment programs will help you to recognize reality and learn how to accept yourself as you are.
  • An anti-diet approach. Nutrition is the focus, not the deprivation that is inherent to dieting. Rather than focusing on weight, the focus is turned to correct portions and choosing healthful foods.
  • Identifying triggers. Eating disorders can be triggered by certain places, people, activities, emotions and other issues. Identifying what triggers you to revert back to negative eating habits will help you figure out how to avoid those triggers and learn how to deal positively with the ones you can’t avoid.
  • Practical therapeutic assistance. In therapy at your eating disorder treatment, you will learn practical ways to change your eating habits, to address eating disorder triggers and to handle stressful situations that used to make you use food in a way that hurt you.
  • Seek support. Family, friends and mentors can be invaluable during eating disorder treatment and these folks can be exactly what you need to keep you on track and remain accountable.

If you’re ready to find an eating disorder treatment near you, contact us at the mental health hotline number above.