Can Healthy Eating Go Too Far?
Clean Eating. Health-Conscious. Sustainable. Vegan/Vegetarian. Organic. Paleo. Keto. The list goes on and on to describe different focuses o
Has your teen’s relationship with food changed drastically? Are you worried about changes in your teen’s eating patterns or exercise habits? Perhaps, your teen has become obsessed with dieting, has started purging (self-induced vomiting), is overly focused on weight loss, or has expressed poor body image and hateful remarks about his or her body. Maybe your teen started eating in secret, refusing foods s/he once loved, or limiting foods eaten to only certain “healthy foods?”
Teen years are brutal. Self-esteem and peer-acceptance are challenged everyday and many teens desperately seek a solution to make them feel likable and worthy of love and attention. Some teens will act out, others will turn their struggle inward, leading to eating disorders and other similar struggles.
You may be confused to learn that your smart, successful, like-able and beautiful teen would resort to disordered eating or have poor body image and low self-esteem. It doesn’t make sense. However, eating disorders are most common in intelligent, high-achieving, and perfectionist teens and adults.
Though you may have expressed your concerns, your teen may not be willing to change or be in denial of his/her problem. They may feel safety and control from their eating disorder. They may fear weight gain, losing social opportunities, or their sense of self. Change is difficult when this is the case and professional help is necessary.
Incidence of teen eating disorders are on the rise regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic status. Sadly, Anorexia and Bulimia and other subtypes of eating disorders are being diagnosed in record numbers. Your child is not alone. There are thousands of families in your position right now and feel lost or confused about what to do or how to pursue treatment for their child.
Teens are more pressured than ever before to look fit or be thin. They feel pushed to achieve at high levels and many have to navigate extreme social pressures and bullying at school, as well as, on the internet. With stressors on the rise, teens are turning to eating disorders in record numbers to try to control their bodies and their environment, often unsuccessfully.
Millions of people will struggle with eating disorders during the course of their lives and most start in their teen years. The scariest statistic for these individuals is that if left untreated they may suffer greatly or ultimately die from factors associated with their illness or from suicide. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. However, research has proven that early diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders in the teen years significantly reduces rates of symptom relapse and increases the chance for full recovery over the lifetime. So, act now!
It is important to note that eating disorder diagnoses are not dependent on weight. Binge Eating Disorder and Anorexia were once thought to only include obese or emaciated individuals, respectively. However, we now understand that the effects of eating disorders can be devastating regardless if a person has endured a significant weight change or not.
This means that your teen does not have to be emaciated or obese to have an eating disorder. They may look “normal” and still could be struggling greatly. Mortality and major physical effects from eating disorders occur regardless of one’s weight or BMI.
You may realize that your teen’s eating disorder and/or body image is a serious problem, but struggle with the challenge of getting your child to see the severity of their issues or with navigating logistical issues, such as school. We understand this and our team will work to meet you where you are at. We offer evening and weekend hours and will work with parents to help you coach your teen effectively at home. We can also work with the school if needed.
If you think your teen needs help, then very likely s/he does, so don’t wait! Help your child be freed from the bonds of his/her eating disorder. Real control over body image and food is possible, but only in recovery.
The road to recovery may be bumpy and long, but total recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Thousands of people recover completely from their eating disorders and one’s chances improve the earlier they are treated and if their team is specialized in this form of treatment. You and your teen need to trust your team. Having the right group of professionals in your corner is essential to this process.
Since eating disorders are psychological, nutritional, and physical in nature it is important to have a multidisciplinary team approach to treatment. Our eating disorders team has over a decade of experience in the field and is comprised of a therapist and nutritionist who are both certified eating disorder specialists. We seek to provide the best possible care and as a result, will work with your medical or other outside providers to provide the highest standard of care.
Our team approaches treatment from a Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive or Mindful Eating perspective. We view recovery as more than just weight restoration, loss or maintenance. We treat the whole person and work with individuals, as well as, families to address the core issues contributing to the origins and maintenance of the eating disorder, as well as, the issues related to one’s identity and societal pressures which challenge the recovery process.
Our team will also provide support in your own environment. We offer meal support, family nutritional coaching, and in-vivo exposure therapies inside and outside of the office.
How do I know if my teen’s struggles with food, weight or body image are really an eating disorder?
During the intake phase of treatment, we will complete a thorough assessment to explore your relationship with food, weight, and body image. Based on the severity and nature of your presenting issues, we will provide an accurate diagnosis and make recommendations for continued care. Our team members are experts in the field and will accurately diagnose or rule out the presence of an eating disorder during this initial phase.
How do I find the right therapist or nutritionist for my teen?
You want to be sure that your providers are highly skilled and have lots of experience working with eating disorder diagnoses. Look for “Certified Eating Disorder Specialists” to work with you and your child. A lot of harm can be done if a provider is inexperienced or untrained in working with this population.
Further, the initial session is as much a clinical assessment as it is an opportunity for you and your teen to assess goodness of fit with your clinicians. The eating disorder treatment providers at Bayview Therapy are Certified Eating Disorder Specialists and also well connected with the local eating disorder treatment community. If we are not a good fit for you, we are happy to connect you with another specialist who is.
Treatment is too expensive.
Outpatient eating disorder treatment is a significant investment. This is true. However, it is far less costly than the medical expenses that will pile up as a result of ongoing eating disordered behaviors, the loss of relationships, and the cost of diet products or binge food. Further, higher levels of care can cost upwards of thousands of dollars per day, which compared to outpatient treatment, is significantly more.
As a result, we respect your investment in you or your loved one’s care. Our team offers competitive rates and works on a sliding scale to make sure that our clients can receive the care they need at a fair cost.
Will therapy still be effective if my teen is resistant?
It is very common for teens to be afraid of recovery or resistant to changing their behaviors. Many people who suffer with eating disorders feel as though their eating disorder is both their best friend and their worst enemy. They feel fused to the disorder and struggle to imagine a life without it. However, with help from a team of experts, they can break free and learn how to not just manage without their eating disorder, but thrive in their life.
If you or your loved one is in need of help for an eating disorder, disordered eating, and/or poor body image, we are here to help. Nutritional and Psychological outpatient therapy are available at our Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs offices.
Call us today at 954-391-5305 to speak with one of our eating disorder specialists for a free 15 minute consultation. We are currently accepting new clients and look forward to speaking with you!
For more information about our adult eating disorder therapy, psychological and nutritional services, click here.