A Comprehensive Guide for Understanding and Managing Eating Disorders

Managing Eating Disorders


Eating disorders are the maladaptive psychological behaviors and cognitive patterns that affect a person’s eating habits. We at Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic have seen it often: a large number of our population suffers from eating disorders. The majority are teenagers, especially females. According to an estimate, almost 28 million Americans have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their life.


A brief introduction to eating disorders

Eating disorders are a group of psychological conditions that lead to the development of unhealthy eating habits. They may start with an obsession with food, weight, or body figure.

In severe cases, eating disorders cause serious health consequences and even death if left untreated. Eating disorders are one of the serious mental illnesses. People suffering from eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include;

   Severe food restriction

   Overeating

   Voiding

   Vomiting

   Excessive exercise


Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is probably the best-known eating disorder.

It usually develops during adolescence or early adulthood and affects women more often than men (10). People with anorexia often believe they are overweight when they are dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid certain types of food and strictly limit their calorie intake. The most common symptoms of anorexia nervosa are;

   Very restricted eating habits

   Intense fear of gaining weight

   Significant influence of weight or shape on self-esteem

   Distorted body image, including denial of being severely underweight

   Constant desire to be thin and unwilling to maintain a healthy weight

However, it is essential to note that body weight should not be the main focus when diagnosing anorexia.


Identifying the causes of eating disorders

Identifying the cause of eating disorders could be tricky for a therapist. Sometimes multiple factors play the cause of an eating disorder. Additionally, several external factors, such as social or cultural trends, affect teens drastically.

Therapists use therapeutic techniques which allow them to assess the cognitive pattern of the patient. Moreover, they can use assessment tools that reveal the person’s unconscious beliefs and personality traits.

Psychotherapy is an effective tool that allows patients to gain more insight into their faulty beliefs and thought processes. 

Here is a brief discussion of the common causes of eating disorders that therapists diagnose:

Mental health

Risk factors for mental health can include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and childhood trauma.

Social stressors such as bullying and peer pressure.

Body image

Risk factors related to eating behavior and body image may also be associated with developing eating disorders. These may include:

   Body dissatisfaction

   Feeding, eating, or gastrointestinal problems in young children

   Permanent weight loss

   Weight-related jokes and comments criticizing weight

Family dysfunction

It has been recognized as a cause of eating disorders for a long time. However, families do not simply cause eating disorders. They could install faulty disbeliefs that, in turn, may serve as a basis for the onset of an eating disorder.

Common causes of significant eating disorders


People with anorexia nervosa restrict their food intake, fear gaining weight, and have a distorted view of their weight and health. A low body mass index (BMI) – essentially being underweight – has been identified as a risk factor.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating and binge eating, has several established risk factors. These include:

   The belief that thinness equals attractiveness (ideally thin internalized)

   Negative body image (body dissatisfaction)

   Feeling pressured to lose weight

   Do a cosmetic treatment


Binge eating disorder

Binge eating is similar to bulimia nervosa but without the purging aspect.

One study noted that the following factors were associated with binge eating in adulthood among girls:

   Youth body dissatisfaction

   Symptoms of depression

   Self-degradation


Hospitalization for treating eating disorders

Medical management at the inpatient level is critical. Many patients require monitoring of vital signs, intravenous fluids, tube feedings, medications, and laboratory tests.

Because hospitalization is costly, it is usually short-term. Many patients remain hospitalized until their condition is stable enough to continue at a lower level of care.

If necessary, it can also include other specialists, including those offering individual therapy sessions. Station units are usually associated with a complete hospital or related. The hospital can provide access to various medical experts such as heart disease experts, neurologists, stomach-narrow diseases, and other medical experts.


Nutrition and medical feeding

Hospital staff will also provide basic nutritional information and consultations, and nutritionists will develop a meal plan. Suppose a person is not eating enough to gain or maintain weight. In that case, doctors and other treatment team members may recommend medical feeding, which involves inserting a tube through the person’s nose into the stomach.

Tube feeding

The tube can then deliver nutrients directly into the stomach. Medical catering is one of the unique services that hospital care can provide.

Assisted feeding

Another type of support that hospitalization can provide is meal support. Staff will usually monitor all patient meals to offer support and monitor intake.



Ultimately, the best way to determine whether a person needs inpatient eating disorder treatment or hospitalization is to be evaluated by a mental health specialist. Eating disorder specialists will be able to assess the situation;

   Medically

   Psychologically

   Historical information

Hence, if you or your loved one suffers from an eating disorder, do not hesitate to professional seek help. Eating disorders are treatable with proper care and attention. Contact us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders can have various causes, including genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Stress and societal pressures often play a role, but they are not the sole causes. A combination of genetic predisposition and emotional triggers can contribute to the development of eating disorders.

Can Stress Cause Eating Disorders and Depression?

Yes, stress can be a contributing factor to the development of eating disorders and depression. When people experience high levels of stress, they may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as overeating or undereating, which can lead to eating disorders. These conditions often co-occur with depression.

How Do You Stop Stress-Induced Eating Disorders?

Stopping stress-induced eating disorders involves a multi-faceted approach. Seeking professional help from therapists or eating disorder specialists is crucial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and stress management techniques can help individuals develop healthier coping strategies. Building a strong support system and addressing underlying emotional issues are also essential.

What’s the Connection Between Stress and Eating Disorders?

The connection between stress and eating disorders is intricate. Stress can trigger emotional eating or restrictive eating patterns as coping mechanisms. These behaviors may escalate into full-fledged eating disorders, highlighting the significant link between stress and these conditions.

What Therapy Is There for Eating Disorders?

Several therapies are effective for treating eating disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family-based therapy (FBT) are commonly used. Each therapy approach focuses on different aspects of recovery, from changing negative thought patterns to addressing family dynamics.

How to Manage Eating Disorder?

Managing an eating disorder involves seeking professional help, adopting healthier eating habits, and addressing underlying emotional issues. Therapists and nutritionists can provide guidance, and support groups can offer a sense of community. Recovery is a gradual process, requiring patience and determination.

Can an Eating Disorder Be Diagnosed as Stress-Induced?

Yes, an eating disorder can be diagnosed as stress-induced. High levels of stress can trigger or exacerbate eating disorders, and mental health professionals can diagnose these conditions as such. It’s essential to seek a thorough evaluation to understand the specific factors contributing to the eating disorder.

How to Prevent Eating Disorders?

Preventing eating disorders involves promoting positive body image, fostering a healthy relationship with food, and addressing emotional well-being. Encouraging open communication about body image and self-esteem, especially among adolescents, can play a significant role in prevention.

Where to Get Treatment for Eating Disorder in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, individuals seeking treatment for eating disorders can turn to reputable facilities like “Positive Reset Mental Health Clinic.” Additionally, consulting with mental health professionals, therapists, or contacting local eating disorder support organizations can provide valuable guidance on treatment options.

Is EMDR Therapy for Eating Disorders Effective?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy has shown promise in treating eating disorders, especially when trauma is a contributing factor. While its effectiveness may vary for each individual, EMDR can be a valuable part of a comprehensive treatment plan.