3 Things to Know About Eating Disorder/ Disordered Eating Treatment

Jan 3, 2023

Eating disorder treatment is determined by your specific disorder and symptoms. It usually consists of a combination of psychological therapy (psychotherapy), nutrition education, medical monitoring, and, in some cases, medications.

There isn’t always a “cure” for these conditions. The emphasis of treatment will be on working toward recovery and preventing future relapses. To learn more about what eating disorders and disorder eating treatment can look like, here are three topics that we will cover in this article: levels of care, treatment team, and types of treatment.

holding hands, eating disorder treatment, care

What Are the Levels of Eating Disorder Treatment?

The list below is ordered from least intensive to most intensive treatment levels:

  • Intensive Outpatient/Outpatient. The patient is medically stable and does not require daily medical supervision. Additionally, the patient is psychiatrically stable and has symptoms under control enough to function in normal social, educational, or vocational settings while making progress in recovery.
    • What to expect: Appointments with dietitians typically last thirty minutes to an hour and may occur bi-weekly, weekly, or less frequently. They encompass nutrition education, goal setting, meal planning, collaboration with your healthcare team, and accountability for your meals.
  • Partial Hospital. The patient is medically stable, but the eating disorder impairs functioning, though there is no immediate danger. Needs daily assessment of physiologic and mental status. The patient is psychiatrically stable, but the patient is unable to function in normal social, educational, or vocational settings and engages in binge eating, purging, fasting, or very limited food intake on a daily basis, or other pathogenic weight-control techniques.
    • What to expect: Partial hospital programs typically include individual, family and group counseling, as well as medication management, nutritional counseling and meal supervision.
  • Residential. The patient is medically stable and requires no intensive medical intervention. Additionally, the patient is psychiatrically impaired and unable to respond to partial hospital or outpatient treatment.
    • What to expect: Patients live in the treatment centers. Programs typically include individual, family and group counseling, as well as medication management, nutritional counseling and meal supervision.
  • Inpatient. Patient is medically unstable as determined by unstable or depressed vital signs, laboratory findings presenting acute health risk, and/or complications due to coexisting medical problems such as diabetes. Additionally, the patient is psychiatrically unstable as determined by rapidly worsening symptoms and/or suicidal and unable to contract for safety.
    • What to expect: meal support & group meal times. In between meals and snacks, which occur every 2-3 hours, residents attend family or individual therapy, family visits, outings (if at that level), or group therapy. The meal plan is created with your dietitian and treatment team to ensure weight restoration during your inpatient stay. The focus, at first, will be getting you to a medically stable place, then weight gain to get you to a place where you feel strong and healthy.

What Does a Treatment Team Look Like for Eating Disorder recovery?

treatment team, group of people

Whether you start by seeing your primary care practitioner or some type of mental health professional, you’ll likely benefit from a referral to a team of professionals who specialize in eating disorder treatment. Members of your treatment team may include:

  • A mental health professional, such as a psychologist to provide psychological therapy. If you need medication prescription and management, you may see a psychiatrist. Some psychiatrists also provide psychological therapy.
  • A registered dietitian to provide education on nutrition and meal planning.
  • Medical or dental specialists to treat health or dental problems that result from your eating disorder.
  • Your partner, parents or other family members. For young people still living at home, parents should be actively involved in treatment and may supervise meals.
  • Additional therapists as required (yoga therapist, art therapist, etc.)
  • Case manager at your insurance company (if needed)

What are the types of treatment for eating disorder recovery?

Treatments for eating disorders vary depending on the type and your specific needs. Even if you don’t have a diagnosed eating disorder, an expert can help you address and manage food-related issues. Treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy: A mental health professional can determine the best psychotherapy for your situation. Many people with eating disorders improve with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy helps you understand and change distorted thinking patterns that drive behaviors and emotions.
  • Medications: Some people with eating disorders have other conditions, like anxiety or depression. Taking antidepressants or other medications can improve these conditions. As a result, your thoughts about yourself and food improve.
  • Nutrition counseling: A registered dietitian with training in eating disorders can help improve eating habits and develop meal plans. This specialist can also offer tips for grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation.

The best treatment approach is often a combination of all of these professionals working together to obtain a comprehensive treatment to address the physical, mental and behavioral aspects.

What Services Does Confidently NourishED Offer?

confidently nourished dietitian nutritionist

Our company, Confidently NourishED specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating, chronic dieting, and a weight-inclusive approach to nutrition care. We fall under the outpatient treatment level for eating disorder treatment. 

Here are two ways you can work with us: 

  1. Individual Sessions: Schedule an initial consultation and individual follow-up sessions. 
  2. Packages: Our packages range from 3-12 months with your choice of weekly or bi-weekly sessions. 
  3. Additional Services: Such as individual meal support, meal planning, or loved-one consults.

For more information about our services, click here.

Additional Resources

  • If you or a loved one are coping with an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline for support at 1-800-931-2237 (call or text).
  • If you are in a crisis and need help immediately, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line. Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7 support via text message to individuals who are struggling with mental health, including eating disorders and are experiencing crisis situations.
  • For more resources, click here.


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