Eating Disorder Treatment

We understand the complexities you or your loved one may be facing with an Eating Disorder. We address the emotional, behavioral, and physical components of an eating disorder on an outpatient basis.

Our experienced multi-disciplinary eating disorder treatment center includes therapists specializing in eating disorder treatment, registered dietitians, and psychiatrists. We also collaborate with the client’s medical doctor for coordination of care to ensure client safety.

Eating disorder treatment includes:

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a health condition where you have an unhealthy relationship with food. This can mean eating too much or too little, or being overly focused on your weight or body shape. These disorders can hinder your body’s ability to get proper nutrition.

Roughly 9% of people around the world have experienced an eating disorder at some point in their lives.1

How an Eating Disorder Can Affect Your Mind and Body

Eating disorders don’t just affect the body; they also impact the mind. Here’s how:

Emotional Impacts

Eating disorders can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, or guilt about eating. Over time, you might become more withdrawn and feel isolated from loved ones.

Physical Impacts

Your body needs food for energy. When it doesn’t get enough, or when it’s overwhelmed by too much, it can result in a host of health problems. These can range from:

  • Heart issues 
  • Digestive troubles
  • Weakened bones
  • Life-threatening conditions

Root Causes: Beyond Just Food

An eating disorder can stem from a variety of reasons, some of which include the following:

  • Emotional Distress: Significant events like trauma or major life changes can trigger unhealthy eating habits.

  • Societal Pressure: Living in a society that values certain body types can make you feel pressured to look a certain way.

  • Biological Factors: Genetics are our blueprint. It’s estimated 28-74% of the risk for eating disorders comes from genetic heritability.

  • Other Mental Health Issues: Conditions like depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder might lead to the development of an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are often the result of several factors, making each person’s experience unique.

When to Seek Help

Knowing when to seek help is vital for recovery. Some signs include:

  • Being constantly worried about weight, body shape, or food
  • Seeing yourself as overweight, even if others say you’re thin
  • Avoiding eating in front of others or lying about what you eat
  • Forcing yourself to vomit or use laxatives after meals
  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, fainting, or irregular heartbeats

If you notice these signs in yourself or someone you know, it’s a good time to reach out for support.

Types of Eating Disorders

Let’s take a closer look at the various types of eating disorders, their characteristics, and their symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia nervosa  often restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat. This eating disorder is characterized by:

  • Weight loss
  • Difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature
  • Distorted body image

Some people with this eating disorder also exercise compulsively, purge via vomiting and laxatives, or binge eat. 

Anorexia Nervosa in Women

About 0.9% of women will struggle with anorexia during their life.2 For young women aged 15-24, the risk of dying from anorexia is twelve times higher than any other cause of death.3

Symptoms Include:

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level
  • Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
  • Feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food (more than most people would eat in one meal) in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse, or over-exercising.

Symptoms Include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating
  • Feeling out of control during a binge and eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It is characterized by eating an amount of food greater than most people would eat in a short period of time with no compensatory purging behaviors. 

An estimated 2.8% of people suffer from BED at some time in their life.4 Binge episodes lead to significant physical discomfort along with feelings of guilt and shame. Binge eating disorder is potentially life threatening and it coincides with common mental health disorders.

Symptoms of BED

Symptoms include:

  • A lack of control over eating during the binging episode
  • Marked distress, guilt, or shame regarding the binge eating
  • Eating more rapidly or eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating alone 
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or guilty


Orthorexia is an obsession with eating foods one considers “healthy” in spite of the physical and social repercussions. The person often categorizes food in rigid good and bad categories based on food quality and purity. 

People presenting with orthorexia go to great lengths to avoid specific foods perceived as unhealthy. In the process, they begin to experience health issues and diminished quality of life.

Symptoms of Orthorexia

Symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Having obsessive thoughts over the effects of the food you eat on medical conditions
  • Severely restricting the types of food you eat because so many foods are deemed unacceptable to your diet
  • Using significant amounts of probiotics, herbal remedies, and other supplements
  • Having irrational concerns about preparation of foods relating to food washing techniques and sterilization of utensils
  • Experiencing strong emotional reactions to food

Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorders (OSFED)

OSFED are characterized by variations of disordered eating that do not meet criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. 

People with OSFED symptoms can have severe health consequences or they can have eating disorders that have not progressed to a full diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.

Symptoms of OSFED

Symptoms of OSFED include:

  • Behaviors and attitudes indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Dressing in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refuseingto eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates)

Atypical Anorexia

Atypical anorexia is a common OSFED. Atypical anorexia often occurs when a person engages in restriction to the point of malnourishment to manage or lose weight. 

People with atypical anorexia have often lost a significant amount of weight and continue to manage weight through food restriction.

Symptoms of Atypical Anorexia

Symptoms of this eating disorder include:

  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Continuing to fear gaining weight even after losing weight
  • Distorted body image
  • Using extreme measures for weight loss such as fasting or excessive exercise
  • Disordered eating and weight-control measures interfere with everyday functioning
  • Unrealistic idea of weight


Our Eating Disorder Treatment at Alternative Options

At Alternative Options, we tailor our treatments to you, ensuring that you receive the comprehensive care you need. Here’s how our treatment works:

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is a flexible method of care. Instead of staying at a facility, you attend scheduled sessions and then return home or to work. This approach allows you to maintain your daily routines while receiving the support you need.

Benefits of outpatient care include:

  • Flexible Schedules: You’ll have appointments that fit your timetable, ensuring minimal disruption.

  • Diverse Therapies: Based on your needs, we provide a mix of individual, group, and specialized therapies.

  • Coordination with Doctors: We’ll collaborate with your medical doctor to ensure your safety and well-being.

Weekly Individual Therapy

Every week, you’ll have a one-on-one session with a therapist. These sessions focus on your unique experiences, challenges, and progress related to the eating disorder.

Benefits of one-on-one therapy include:

  • Personalized Attention: Your therapist gets to understand you, ensuring the strategies discussed are tailored to your needs.

  • Safe Environment: During these sessions, you can openly share feelings and concerns, knowing they remain confidential.

  • Progress Tracking: Regular sessions help monitor how you’re doing, allowing adjustments in your treatment plan if needed.

Trauma-Focused Approaches

Many people with eating disorders have a history of trauma. Studies show a strong correlation between PTSD, a condition caused by severe traumatic events, and eating disorders.5 This means that some people might develop unhealthy relationships with food as a way to cope with past trauma.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a therapy method used for people who have experienced trauma. It involves recalling traumatic events while making specific eye movements. This process can help change the way these memories affect you.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic experiencing (SE) is another therapy focused on trauma. It targets the physical reactions our bodies have after traumatic events. Sometimes, our bodies hold onto tension or stress from past traumas. This can affect our overall well-being and can even influence eating habits.

Nutritional Interventions

Nutritional interventions aim to help you build a healthy relationship with food and understand its role in your body.

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling involves meeting with a dietitian. This professional will guide you in understanding:

  • How different foods affect your body
  • What a balanced meal looks like
  • How to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues

During these sessions, you’ll also set goals. These might be related to meal planning or trying new foods. The goal is to make food choices that support your health and well-being.

Family Nutrition Education

Families play a big role in our eating habits. With family nutrition education, families can:

  • Learn about balanced diets
  • Understand the needs of a family member with an eating disorder
  • Learn how to support their loved one in making healthy choices

This type of education is beneficial for the whole family. It ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Food Normalization

Food normalization is about changing how you see food. The focus is on:

  • Accepting all foods without labeling them as “good” or “bad”
  • Understanding that balance in food choices is key
  • Building trust in oneself to make decisions about food

This approach recognizes that all foods can fit into a balanced diet. It also promotes a positive and relaxed attitude towards eating.

Supported Meals and Snacks

Facing food can be tough if you have an eating disorder. Supported meals and snacks provide:

  • A safe space to eat with the guidance of professionals
  • A chance to practice healthy eating habits
  • An opportunity to address any feelings or thoughts that come up during meals

During these sessions, you’ll have the support you need to eat and enjoy food in a relaxed setting.

Advanced Assessments

Advanced assessments are a series of comprehensive tests that delve deeper into understanding the causes, nuances, and intricacies of an eating disorder. They look beyond the surface symptoms to give a clearer picture of the disorder’s root. This aids in the creation of a tailored treatment plan.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing looks at specific genes, chromosomes, or proteins. In terms of an eating disorder, it can help determine if you have inherited genes that make you more susceptible to these conditions. 

Knowing your genetic predisposition can also help in crafting a treatment plan that is more aligned with your unique genetic makeup, potentially increasing the efficacy of the treatment.

Diagnostic Testing

Diagnostic testing offers a detailed analysis of your current health condition in relation to the eating disorder. It includes:

  • Medical Tests: These are physical tests, including blood tests, to check for malnutrition, anemia, or any other conditions that often accompany eating disorders.

  • Psychological Evaluation: This involves discussing your feelings, thoughts, and eating habits. It helps in understanding the psychological triggers or underlying emotional issues connected with the disorder.

  • Physical Examination: This checks your weight, height, heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to assess the physical impact of the eating disorder on your body.

Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy sessions offer a space where you can connect with others who face similar struggles, learn from their experiences, and grow together. 

DBT Groups

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a kind of therapy that helps manage emotions and improve interpersonal relationships. In DBT groups, you can:

  • Learn coping skills for stress
  • Regulate emotions
  • Improve interactions with others

For those with an eating disorder, DBT can help manage the intense feelings associated with food, body image, and social settings.

CBT Groups

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on understanding and changing thought patterns that lead to problematic behaviors. 

In terms of an eating disorder, these groups aid in recognizing negative thought cycles around food and body image. With the support of the group, you can then develop strategies to counter these thoughts and adopt healthier behaviors.

Psychoeducation Groups

Knowledge can be empowering. Psychoeducation groups provide information about eating disorders, their causes, effects, and strategies for coping. By understanding the intricacies of these disorders, you become better equipped to confront and overcome them.

Self-Esteem and Body Image Groups

These groups address the core issues people with an eating disorder struggle with: self-worth and body perception. By discussing and challenging societal standards and internal beliefs, these sessions pave the way for healthier self-perceptions and increased self-worth.

Multi-Family Groups

Eating disorders don’t just affect the individual; they impact families as well. Multi-family groups allow families to come together, share their experiences, and learn ways to support their loved ones effectively. 

In this shared space, you can find solace in shared stories and gain different perspectives on recovery.

Meditation and Mindfulness Groups

The mind-body connection is integral to recovery. Meditation and mindfulness groups offer tools to calm the mind, center oneself, and remain present. This focus can reduce anxiety around food and cultivate a balanced relationship with one’s body.

Trauma Groups

Trauma groups provide a safe environment to discuss traumatic experiences, process them, and find ways to move forward without relying on disordered eating behaviors.

Medication Management

When treating an eating disorder, medication can can offer several benefits, such as:

  • Symptom Relief: Some medications can help reduce the intensity of symptoms related to eating disorders, like extreme anxiety about weight gain or the obsessive-compulsive aspects of the disorder.

  • Mood Stabilization: If someone is also experiencing mood disorders like depression or anxiety, medications can help bring balance.

  • Physical Recovery: Some medications can help address the physical repercussions of an eating disorder, such as restoring hormonal imbalances or addressing nutritional deficiencies.

At Alternative Options, the use of medication is always monitored and managed by experienced psychiatrists. Before prescribing any medication, a full evaluation is done to ensure it’s a fit for the patient’s unique needs. 

Medications are typically used alongside other therapeutic methods to offer a holistic approach to recovery.

Intensive Case Management

Navigating the challenges of an eating disorder can be overwhelming. That’s where intensive case management comes in. This approach ensures that every aspect of your recovery is organized, supported, and coordinated.

Benefits of intensive case management include:

Coordination of Care

A dedicated case manager collaborates with all professionals involved in your care, from dietitians to therapists. This ensures everyone is on the same page and working together for your recovery.

Personalized Support

The case manager understands your unique needs and challenges. They help identify resources, tools, and strategies to assist in your journey.


Regular check-ins with a case manager can help keep you on track. They are there to celebrate your successes and support you through challenges.

Resource Identification

A case manager can help you identify and access resources, such as support groups, educational materials, or specialized treatments.

With intensive case management, you’re never alone in your recovery journey. A dedicated professional is always by your side, helping you navigate the path to wellness.

Discover Holistic Treatment Tailored to You

Eating disorders are multifaceted, and no two journeys are alike. At Alternative Options Counseling Center, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Our commitment spans over two decades, having guided thousands toward a brighter, balanced future. Whether you’re an adult or an adolescent, our tailored treatments are designed to address the core of your struggles, not just the symptoms.

Get in Touch With Alternative Options Today

Reach out to Alternative Options and let us be your guide to recovery. We will work with you every step of the way during treatment to ensure healing and support.