Eating Disorder Treatment
Eating disorders and disordered eating are often rooted in trauma or underlying mental health conditions. They are considered harmful coping behaviors that usually develop in childhood. There are several types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating; oftentimes people with eating disorders also struggle with mental illness. Here at Sabino Recovery, we understand that in order to successfully treat eating disorders, the diagnosis must be for the whole person and not just address the eating disorder symptoms. This is why we offer a variety of mental health services, comprehensive treatment plans, and psychological treatments that are individualized for each of our residents.
Some people may have disordered eating behaviors that don’t meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. For example, someone who frequently over eats when stressed may not seek treatment because their behavior doesn’t qualify for a diagnosis of binge eating disorder. Another example is people who are focused on body image, body weight, or eating a restricted range of foods but do not meet the full criteria for a diagnosis of anorexia.
Why is Our Eating Disorder Treatment Program Right for You?
Prior to treatment, every potential resident is screened to ensure that we can maintain their safety while at Sabino Recovery. Before entering treatment, every potential resident goes through a screening process to make sure that they can stay safe and healthy at Sabino Recovery. If a potential resident requires a higher level of medical care, we ensure they receive the care they need. When they are admitted, residents go through an integrative medical and psychiatric evaluation that provides the basis for their eating disorder treatment.
For those residents with a diagnosed eating disorder, we include a nutritional assessment and regular medical appointments in the program. Each treatment plan is customized to each person’s unique needs. Residents are educated about healthy lifestyles and encouraged to challenge their ingrained behaviors while being fully supported in their recovery. We offer consistent medical monitoring, mealtime support, and after-meal monitoring when necessary.
Sabino Recovery’s team is highly experienced in the field of eating disorders and trauma. Our Physician’s Assistant has a degree in dietetics and is well versed in intuitive eating and nutritional consultation. Our Clinical Outreach Specialist has over 7 years of experience working with this specific population and collaborates with the clinical team with her background in nutrition and dietetics. Our Registered Dietitian has over 30 years in the field of eating disorders and trains dietitians in the treatment of eating disorders. Our Lead BHT (behavioral health technician) has over 20 years of experience working in eating disorder treatment centers, and our Neurotherapist began her career working exclusively with people with eating disorders.
Finding New Ways
At Sabino Recovery, we offer the resources and cutting-edge therapies that treat eating disorders by addressing the underlying cause. Studies suggest that trauma-focused treatment can benefit those battling eating disorders. Trauma interventions such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are types of psychotherapy that can help people heal from the symptoms and emotional distress resulting from disturbing life experiences that can lead to eating disorders.
Taking advantage of neuroplasticity can help rewire the neural pathways in the brain and change these harmful behaviors. Integrated therapies work to dissipate feelings of shame and help to reinforce the strong person amidst the struggle. At Sabino Recovery, it is our job to reconnect residents with their sense of self-worth. We can all fall prey to the illusion that physical perfection exists and is attainable. The narrative can be rewritten. Many people with eating disorders may carry the fear that they are a failure if they don’t achieve perfection and that they haven’t lived up to expectations because they’ve lost control. It’s important to shift perspective away from false ideas of others’ perceptions and into the knowledge that it’s possible to be whole, happy, and safe in your own skin.
People suffering from anorexia nervosa tend to view themselves as overweight or obese, even though they are often underweight. People who struggle with anorexia weigh themselves frequently, diet rigorously, exercise to exhaustion, and may use laxatives or emetics to eliminate “unwanted” calories. Restrictive eating leads to a lack of nutrients in the body which causes emaciation, where the body begins to break down its tissues.
Common examples of emotional symptoms of anorexia are social disengagement, a lack of feeling, impatience, or an inability to comprehend the gravity of the situation. People may be wary of eating in public and create food rituals, such as chewing a particular amount of times before swallowing. People suffering from anorexia become preoccupied with weighing themselves repeatedly as they are terrified of gaining weight and will not accept a healthy or average weight.
A profile of the risk factors for anorexia includes:
- Being extremely concerned about weight and appearance; paying more attention to it
- Being diagnosed with an anxiety condition in childhood
- Having a poor self-perception; body dysmorphia
- Having issues with feeding in infancy or early childhood
- Having particular social or cultural perspectives on health and beauty
- Obsessing over perceived flaws
Low body fat levels mean that a person can appear to be ill. Their body slows down to conserve energy. For women, this might result in missed periods. Pains and symptoms such as dehydration, abnormal heart rhythms, stomach discomfort, poor blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping are also possible. Symptoms also include:
- Lanugo hair due to extreme malnutrition
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Brain impairment over time
Anorexia generally develops in adolescence or early adulthood. While women are statistically more likely to develop it, this could be a skewed number due to a lack of self-reporting in men who can also struggle with anorexia.
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of compulsive overeating and binge eating followed by a purge. These compensatory actions often take the form of laxatives, fasting, vomiting, or excessive exercise. The result is a lack of control over the need to consume and the need to make themselves sick to avoid gaining weight. Those diagnosed with bulimia consume excessive amounts of food in uncontrollable outbursts. Bulimia nervosa sufferers might be slim, average weight, or even obese. Eating binges might occur many times each day for months on end.
There are a host of emotional issues related to eating disorders. For example, people with these disorders frequently have poor body image and body dysmorphia, which lead to low self-esteem. In addition, people suffering from eating disorders feel out of control of their behaviors, feel guilty or shameful about eating, and distance themselves from family and friends.
Other symptoms include:
- Chronically inflamed and sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
- Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
- Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
- Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
- Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
- Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals), which can lead to stroke or heart attack
The physical toll that bulimia takes is significant. It can include organ damage, such as damage to the digestive system or teeth worn out by repeated vomiting. In many circumstances, the rapid depletion of electrolytes in the body that results from purging can lead to serious medical problems such as cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, and even death. A swollen, painful throat, as well as persistently enlarged glands, are other symptoms. Those with bulimia tend to be around average in weight or might be much heavier.
Those who suffer from binge eating disorders lose control over their eating. Their meals are rushed, and they consume a lot of food in a short time. They may eat even when not hungry; even when uncomfortably full, they may still have the compulsion to eat. People may feel guilty after a binge. Unlike those with bulimia, they don’t try to purge the calories they have consumed. People with binge eating disorders may express shame and embarrassment following a binge. They will often eat alone or in secret to escape humiliation. At Sabino Recovery, we treat the symptoms and behaviors associated with eating disorders while addressing the root trauma that perpetuates the cycle.