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How Can You Treat Eating Disorders

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Basic Principles Of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

How Do You Treat Eating Disorders?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is really simple to understand.

As a yoga teacher, meditator, and counselor, I really resonate with CBTs simple approach, and I find the approach can help me out too in my life.

Our mind and body are one. Our thoughts impact our behaviors. This is the fundamental assumption of CBT.

For example, if a person with low self-esteem thinks I am a total failure, ideally they will challenge themselves or develop new skills. But in most cases they easily give up and dont seek help.

Yet if this person is able to shift their thinking from I am a total failure to I am learning a new skill and failure is part of the process and doesnt mean I personally am a failure, then they will be on the path to healing.

CBT can help. Heres the basic diagram of CBT which shows how our thoughts and emotions impact our behaviors.

Do Any Medications Treat Eating Disorders

Medications may be prescribed to address relevant symptoms, such as anxiety or depression. But there are currently no drugs approved to treat eating disorders.

Some medications are known to cause weight gain, but patients wont submit to gaining weight without addressing the underlying psychological challenges prompting the disorder. This also hinders drug discovery due to participants in clinical trials.

Treatment Settings And Levels Of Intensity

Treatment for an eating disorder can take place within a variety of settings across outpatient, inpatient, residential or day programs, and involves a multidisciplinary team of providers. The at a minimum would comprise a mental health professional and a medical practitioner, and dietitians, other health professionals, and recovery support professionals may also be involved.

Treatment options for people experiencing an eating disorder within Australia include both private and public options.

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National Association Of Anorexia Nervosa And Associated Disorders

ANAD is a nonprofit organization that aims to help people with eating disorders get care and support.

They have several resources that you can use, such as:

  • Treatment directory: The ANAD treatment directory can help you find a treatment provider in your area.
  • Helpline: The ANAD helpline provides information, offers support, and gives treatment referrals. Its available Monday through Friday and on Sundays. You can leave a message after hours.
  • Support groups: There are several virtual support groups that meet on a regular basis.

National Alliance On Mental Illness

Treatment &  10 Strategies for Tackling Binge Eating Disorder

NAMI aims to offer education, support, and public awareness of mental health issues.

Some NAMI resources you may find useful are:

  • Helpline: The NAMI helpline provides information, support, and treatment referrals to those with mental health conditions. Its available Monday through Friday.
  • Support groups: NAMI offers support groups throughout the country for people with mental health conditions and their families.

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How Do I Find A Clinical Trial

Researchers at the NIMH conduct clinical trials on numerous areas of study, including cognition, genetics, epidemiology, and psychiatry. These clinical trials take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and may require regular visits. After an initial phone interview, you will come to an appointment at the clinic and meet with a clinician. Visit the NIMH Clinical Trials Participants or Join a Study pages for more information on participating in clinical trials.

To find a clinical trial near you, you can visit This website is a searchable registry and results database of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world. gives you information about a trials purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details. This information should be used in conjunction with advice from health professionals.

Indulge Without Overeating By Savoring Your Food

When you eat to feed your feelings, you tend to do so quickly, mindlessly consuming food on autopilot. You eat so fast you miss out on the different tastes and textures of your foodas well as your bodys cues that youre full and no longer hungry. But by slowing down and savoring every bite, youll not only enjoy your food more but youll also be less likely to overeat.

Slowing down and savoring your food is an important aspect of mindful eating, the opposite of mindless, emotional eating. Try taking a few deep breaths before starting your food, putting your utensils down between bites, and really focusing on the experience of eating. Pay attention to the textures, shapes, colors and smells of your food. How does each mouthful taste? How does it make your body feel?

Practice mindful eating

Eating while youre also doing other thingssuch as watching TV, driving, or playing with your phonecan prevent you from fully enjoying your food. Since your mind is elsewhere, you may not feel satisfied or continue eating even though youre no longer hungry. Eating more mindfully can help focus your mind on your food and the pleasure of a meal and curb overeating. See Mindful Eating.

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How Are Eating Disorders Diagnosed

Many people who suffer from eating disorders keep their condition a secret or won’t admit they have a problem. However, it’s important to get help early .

The first step is to see your GP, who can refer you to the appropriate services. A doctor or mental health professional will make a diagnosis.

There is no single test to determine whether someone has an eating disorder, but there is a range of evaluations that lead to a diagnosis, including:

  • Physical examinations: Disordered eating can take a toll on the body, so the doctor must first check the person is physically OK. The doctor is likely to check height, weight and vital signs . They may also check blood and urine.
  • Psychological evaluations: A doctor or mental health professional may talk to the person about eating and body image. What are their habits, beliefs and behaviours? They may be asked to complete a questionnaire or self-assessment.

Medication For Eating Problems

Eating Disorders: What you need to know about treatment

There are no specific drugs to treat eating disorders. However, you may be offered medication for underlying factors such as depression or anxiety. For example, you may be offered an antidepressant to help manage these feelings.

You should be offered medication alongside talking treatments. Medication shouldn’t be the only thing you’re offered. Your doctor will decide whether to offer you medication â you can decide whether you want to take it.

If your eating problem means you’re underweight, drugs are absorbed more quickly into your bloodstream. This could make any medication more harmful, or not as effective, as it should be.

See our pages on antidepressants, antipsychotics and psychiatric medication for more about these drugs.

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The Sessions Are Spread Out Across 4 Distinct Stages:

  • Stage 1: Therapist and client meet 2x per week and the priority is understanding the patterns and finding stable eating patterns. Theres also education at this point about survival mode which is what happens for many people with eating disorders.
  • Stage 2: Depending on the clients situation, additional targeted training modules and exercises are given to overcome specific challenges. Session frequency goes down to 1x per week.
  • Stage 3: Weekly sessions are still in place, along with training on dealing with negative thoughts.
  • Stage 4: Sessions are now bi-weekly as the client wraps up the program. Special emphasis is given to recovering from relapse at this point.

Ill give a bit more info on each of these stages below too

Overall, please note that CBT-E places special emphasis on both mental health and the health professional. Im especially talking about the bond between therapist and client.

We have to like each other basically! This is true for any eating disorder treatment plan.

Don’t Believe You Aren’t Worth The Cost

Treatment and recovery from an eating disorder can be expensive and time-consuming. Try not to get caught up in thinking that you are not worth the financial commitment that treatment may require. If money is an issue, talk openly with your treatment providers about it. There are often ways to get treatment that is less expensive.

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Treatments For Eating Disorders

There are different types of psychological treatments for eating disorders and you may be offered a combination of them. Medication should only be offered alongside other treatments.

Physical treatments like acupuncture, weight training and yoga should not be offered as a treatment for eating disorders.

Guided self-help programme

This is a programme where youll look at the thoughts, feelings and actions that you have in relation to eating. You should also have some support sessions to help you follow the programme.


This means you will learn about your symptoms and how to manage them.

Someone I Love Has An Eating Disorder How Can I Help

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Although the decision to seek treatment may seem extremely clear to a loved one, it can be difficult and overwhelming for the person struggling. It can help to research eating disorders to better understand the condition and empathize with their experience.

Helping someone with an eating disorder arrive at the decision to seek treatment can be a long process. It may involve asking the person about their thoughts and feelings, helping them admit that they have a problem, and reflecting on goals for their future that might make treatment feel necessary and important.

When discussing treatment, it can be valuable to share resources, such as mental health professionals in the area who take their insurance, and offer to attend an appointment with them. Encourage the person to get both psychological help and a medical exam. Later on, check in to make sure they followed through on the plan that you discussed.

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Eating Disorder Treatment Centers Could Treat Clients Intersectionally

Eating disorder treatment is often equipped to treat one type of client, and thats typically a client who is considered a majority in society in many ways. I think treatment centers need to hire staff that respect and affirm clients minority backgrounds and also need to be better equipped to accommodate clients with disabilities and to accept clients who may have difficulty finding treatment due to their genders or other aspects of their backgrounds. Everyone deserves affirming, accessible eating disorder treatment! -Kelly

Don’t Avoid All Situations That Make You Anxious

Recovery from an eating disorder requires facing situations that you may have been avoiding, such as eating certain foods, tolerating feelings of fullness, and tolerating feelings of anxiety when you do not exercise. Work with your treatment team to develop a plan to gradually face these situations.

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You Can Heal From An Eating Disorder

You do not have to live with an eating disorder. Complete the therapy appointment form to schedule an appointment or complimentary 15-minute phone consultation. You can see below for some types of eating disorders and eating and body image related concerns we treat at Best Within You Therapy & Wellness.

Eating Disorder Therapy Is Effective

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We know it can feel difficult speaking with a therapist about an eating disorder. One of our compassionate therapists will meet you where you are at. We do not offer a one size fits all treatment approach to eating disorders. We will personalize and tailor therapy to what you are needing. We will provide you with an empathetic environment to work through your eating disorder. You will work with a psychologist to help heal your relationship with food and your body. Each psychologist at Best Within You Therapy & Wellness has a unique specialty in eating disorder treatment. So, you will be matched with a psychologist that is the best fit for you.

In therapy, know that it wont just be about food. We also will talk about things like sleep, stress, friends, and family because we know you are more than your eating disorder. Additionally, we understand that the eating disorder is not just about the food. We will help figure out what is causing and what is maintaining the disordered eating. We will help you with tools and strategies to overcome your eating disorder. You do not have to continue suffering with your eating disorder, we have years of experience helping people overcome disordered eating.

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Eating Disorders Are Treatable

Its usually very difficult for people with eating disorders to get better on their own, so its important that you or the person you know finds professional help and support as soon as possible. The sooner someone is treated for an eating disorder, the better their chance of making a full recovery.

We know that gaining access to treatment isnt always as straightforward as we would like it to be, and you might find that youre faced with a wait before getting NHS treatment. In these instances, do remember the support services on offer through Beat. You could access our support groups online, contact our Helpline, open 365 days a year, or use HelpFinder, our online directory, to search for services near to you, including private treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment For Eating Disorders

A hallmark of CBT-E disorder treatment is the concept of transdiagnostic, or going across diagnoses. This refers to treating eating disorders in the plural, rather than just a singular eating disorder.

CBT-E disorder treatment holds that the core problem underlying all eating disorders is the over-evaluation of body image, willpower, and perfection.

In essence, the over-evaluation of body image, perfection and control makes up the primary cards supporting the eating disorder house of cards.

If you can target, address, heal, get treatment for and ultimately integrate the over-evaluation of body image, perfection and control, then the rest of the eating disorder cards will also come tumbling down.

For an example of what over-evaluation means, lets take into consideration how people form their self-esteem.

A normal person derives their self-esteem from a variety of ways, such as family, friends, skills, community support, goals, overcoming setbacks, etc.

A person who has an over-evaluation of weight, control and body image might exclusively judge her self esteem if she lost weight that day.

She might have friends, family, skills, etc But only eating, food and weight are what she bases her value on.

Because she only focuses on her weight, and food, this woman might skip family dinners. Or, she might stop caring about school or her relationships.

She might spend hours and hours exercising, counting calories, and looking at herself in the mirror.

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What Is The Outlook For People With Anorexia

Anorexia, like other eating disorders, gets worse the longer it is left untreated. The sooner the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Anorexia can be treated, allowing the person to return to a healthy weight although, many people with anorexia deny they have a problem and refuse treatment.

Although treatment is possible, the risk of relapse is high. Recovery from anorexia usually requires long-term treatment as well as a strong commitment by the individual. Support of family members and other loved ones can help ensure that the person receives the needed treatment.

What Are Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are serious, biologically influenced medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to ones eating behaviors. Although many people may be concerned about their health, weight, or appearance from time to time, some people become fixated or obsessed with weight loss, body weight or shape, and controlling their food intake. These may be signs of an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not a choice. These disorders can affect a persons physical and mental health. In some cases, they can be life-threatening. With treatment, however, people can recover completely from eating disorders.

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What Are The Treatments For Eating Disorders

Treatment plans for eating disorders are tailored to individual needs. You will likely have a team of providers helping you, including doctors, nutritionists, nurses, and therapists. The treatments may include:

  • Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy. Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioral approaches, which help you to identify and change negative and unhelpful thoughts. It also helps you build coping skills and change behavioral patterns.
  • Medical care and monitoring, including care for the complications that eating disorders can cause
  • Nutrition counseling. Doctors, nurses, and counselors will help you eat healthy to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers, may help treat some eating disorders. The medicines can also help with the depression and anxiety symptoms that often go along with eating disorders.

Some people with serious eating disorders may need to be in a hospital or in a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs combine housing and treatment services.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

If Youre Concerned About A Loved One

A friend or family member that has an eating disorder may not believe they need to seek treatment. They may also be defensive about topics like their diet and weight.

If youre worried that someone close to you has an eating disorder, speak with them openly and compassionately about your concerns.

Encourage them to seek treatment. If theyre scared or unsure, offering to go with them may be helpful.

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What About Other Types Of Therapies

Researchers continue to investigate the efficacy of other therapies that we discussed above. Below is a snapshot of some of the results:

  • ACT: A 2020 study assessed 99 women with residual eating disorder symptoms and body image problems. At a 2-year follow-up, women who had received 12 sessions of ACT had fewer symptoms than those who didnt receive ACT.
  • CRT: A
  • small 2015 study assessed DBT for treating anorexia nervosa. It found that specifically targeting skills like flexibility, openness, and interpersonal skills may be helpful in treating this disorder.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy: A 2016 paper reviewed 47 studies of psychodynamic psychotherapy for treating eating disorders. It noted that while studies are scarce, the available data supports the use of this therapy for eating disorders, particularly for anorexia, but noted that more studies are needed to test its effectiveness.

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