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Understanding and Supporting Eating Disorder Recovery

Updated: Feb 12


A blonde-haired woman sits on a couch with her knees up to her chest. She's wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeved white shirt. She's resting her face on her fist as she looks longingly outside of a window.

Did you know that 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime? Eating disorders can impact anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, body shape, weight, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. Each year, Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) serves as an opportunity to educate the public about eating disorders and rally support for individuals and families affected by this complex condition. EDAW will be observed this year from Feb. 26 to March 3.


Eating disorders encompass a range of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. Some common types include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder). Each of these disorders manifest in various forms, often making them challenging to identify in their early stages. This complexity is magnified by the multitude of factors contributing to their development.


Contributing Factors to Eating Disorders and the Role of Mental Health


Eating disorders are known  for their broader impact on sufferers—physically, mentally and socially. The complexity of eating disorders is further compounded by the fact that they often intertwine with other mental health conditions. Anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are some of the often co-occurring mental health issues that are intricately linked with eating disorders.


  1. Body Image and Self-Esteem: A negative body image or low self-esteem can significantly contribute to the development and maintenance of eating disorders. In a world dominated by societal pressures and media portrayals of the 'ideal' body, individuals, especially adolescents, are particularly susceptible.

  2. Trauma and Stress: Trauma, whether from childhood or later in life, can trigger disordered eating behaviors. The desire to control food intake and body size sometimes emerges as a misguided coping mechanism for managing the anxiety and stress associated with the trauma.

  3. Genetic and Biological Factors: There is a strong genetic component in eating disorders. Individuals with family members who have experienced an eating disorder are at a higher risk of developing similar issues. Changes in brain chemistry, hormones and nutrition can also contribute to the onset of these disorders.

  4. Cultural and Societal Pressures, Family Dynamics: Environmental factors, including cultural and societal pressures, play a significant role. Additionally, family situations and dynamics can influence a person’s relationship with food.


The relationship between mental health and eating disorders underscores the importance of a comprehensive, holistic approach to their prevention and treatment. Addressing underlying psychological issues alongside the physical symptoms of the eating disorder is crucial for sustainable recovery.


An array of nutritious foods that includes avocado, bell peppers, raddish, cheese, yogurt, rice, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber and lemon.


The Role of Nutrition, Therapy and Support Systems


  1. Nutritional Support: A major aspect of eating disorder treatment is to restore physical health through nutritional rehabilitation. Health professionals work to normalize eating habits and promote a healthy relationship with food.

  2. Therapeutic Interventions: Various forms of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Family-Based Therapy are integral to the treatment of eating disorders, focusing on challenging negative beliefs and behaviors.

  3. Medical Treatment: In cases where co-occurring conditions and severe physical symptoms require medical intervention, medication can be a part of the treatment plan under careful monitoring.

  4. Peer and Family Support Groups: Support systems often play a vital role in the recovery process, providing the individual with encouragement, understanding and a sense of belonging that can help counter the isolating nature of these disorders.


Nurturing the Path to Recovery


Efforts toward reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues, including eating disorders, can encourage individuals to seek the help they need without fear of judgment. Supporting individuals on their journey to recovery from an eating disorder requires compassion, patience and understanding.


At CTI-OK, we offer comprehensive, trauma-informed, compassionate care to our clients. Our highly trained professionals provide personalized plans for clients, with individual therapy, group counseling and family support. We understand the intricate link between eating disorders and mental health, creating a culture of support and effective treatment. If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, CTI-OK is here to guide you toward healing.


Contact us at (918) 384-0002, or fill out the contact form and we'll be in touch with you soon.

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