adolescent eating disorder treatment

Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment

Read on to learn more about adolescent eating disorder treatment at J Flowers Health Institute and the options available for recovery.

Table of Contents

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a complex mental health condition involving eating habits. It often includes the distorted perception of body weight and shape. Eating disorders go beyond mere concerns about body image and may manifest as unhealthy obsession with weight control.

Adolescents with eating disorders have extreme thoughts and emotions about eating. Individuals with this condition experience significant disruptions in physical and mental well-being. That is why it is so important to pursue adolescent eating disorder treatment.

Different Types of Eating Disorders

There are several types of eating disorders, each with individual characteristics. It is important to stay informed about symptoms and effects for effective adolescent eating disorder treatment.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa refers to a fear of weight gain and distorted body image. People with anorexia drastically restrict food intake. 


This leads to excessive weight loss and malnutrition. These individuals may exhibit obsessive behaviors related to food and weight control.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder involves frequent episodes of excessive eating in a short time. What follows are the following feelings:
  • Loss of control
  • Guilt 
  • Shame 
  • Distress
Individuals with this disorder do not engage in compensatory behaviors as a habit.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa includes recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as these in order to avoid weight gain:
  • Vomiting
  • Laxative use
  • Excessive exercise

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID involves a limited range of food intake. People with this condition often have sensory issues and aversions to certain foods. Individuals with ARFID may have difficulties meeting their nutritional needs.
This may lead to the following symptoms:
  • Weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Impaired growth

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

OSFED is an umbrella term for eating disorders that don’t fit the criteria mentioned above. It’s important to note that eating disorders are complex conditions.
They can have severe consequences on an individual’s health and quality of life. Seeking professional help and appropriate treatment is crucial.

What Ages and Demographics are More Likely to Develop an Eating Disorder?

People with eating disorders vary across populations and cultures. Eating disorders can affect people of all demographics. However, there are certain individuals at higher risk of developing an eating disorder. These will be discussed below.


Research links more females to eating disorders. Males also experience eating disorders, although at lower rates.1


Eating disorders often emerge during adolescence and early adulthood. This is a time of significant changes in the following aspects:
  • Physical 
  • Emotional 
  • Social
Eating disorders may develop later in life as well.

Socioeconomic Background

Eating disorders can affect people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Factors such as these may affect the likelihood of eating disorder development:
  • Healthcare access
  • Culture
  • Social pressures 

Race and Ethnicity

Eating disorders occur in people of all races and ethnicities, though variations in prevalence and types among different backgrounds exist.2

Sexual Orientation

Research indicates that people of all sexual orientations may face this problem, but LGBTQIA+ individuals may face higher risks. This is due to factors like body dissatisfaction and social pressures.
Approaching this topic with sensitivity is vital. Focus on the following:
  • Individual needs
  • Providing support
  • Promoting empathy
This is helpful for adolescent eating disorder treatment.

What Puts an Adolescent at Risk for Developing an Eating Disorder?

Adolescents are prone to developing eating disorders due to many factors. That said, each individual’s experience is unique. Common contributors to the development of adolescent eating disorders include societal pressures and peer influence.

Societal Pressures

Adolescents face societal pressures and unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in popular media. Society’s body ideals can fuel dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance. This leads to the development of disordered eating patterns.3

Peer Influence

Peer influence plays a significant role during adolescence. Adolescents may compare themselves to peers.
This often results in pressure to conform to certain body ideals. Some individuals engage in unhealthy dieting behaviors. Peer groups that focus on diet or weight can lead to the development of eating disorders.

Family Dynamics

Family dynamics and relationships influence adolescent eating disorders. This includes food related factors affected by parental attitudes, such as the following:4
  • Dieting
  • Weight
  • Body image
Young women are more at risk of this family influence.

Psychological Factors

Some groups are more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder. This includes adolescents with challenges like the following:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • A history of trauma
Eating disorders can serve as a coping mechanism or a way to regain a sense of control in their lives.

Genetics and Biology

Biological factors like hormone issues may cause adolescent eating disorders. Also, evidence suggests that genetic factors can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Adolescents with a family history of eating disorders may be at a high risk of one themselves.5

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Identifying symptoms early is vital for adolescent eating disorder treatment. While symptoms can vary depending on the eating disorder, the following are common signs to look out for:

Negative Body Image

Adolescents with eating disorders have distorted self-image. Individuals may believe they are overweight or unattractive despite evidence to the contrary.

Significant Weight Changes

Rapid weight fluctuations may suggest an eating disorder. Adolescents may engage in these behaviors:
  • Extreme dieting
  • Restrictive eating
  • Excessive exercise
This extreme desire to control weight yields poor consequences.

Altered Eating Patterns

Adolescents with eating disorders may exhibit abnormal eating behaviors. These can include the following:
  • Strict food rules and rituals
  • Avoiding certain food groups 
  • Secretive eating
  • Intense guilt or anxiety after eating

Obsession with Weight

Constant discussions about weight or body shape may suggest disorders. Likewise, excessive food and calorie counting is often a sign. Adolescents may read food labels or collect recipes without actually eating.

Social Withdrawal and Avoidance

Adolescents with eating disorders may withdraw from social activities. They may avoid eating in public or make excuses to avoid meals or gatherings that involve food.

Physical Changes

Physical signs of an eating disorder can include the following:6
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Thinning hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Dry skin
  • Cold intolerance
In some cases, adolescents may develop lanugo (fine hair growth) on their bodies. This is a result of malnutrition.

Emotional and Behavioral Changes

Adolescents with eating disorders experience emotional changes that include these symptoms:
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsession with body image
Some may become too concerned about appearance. This can lead to avoiding mirrors or always seeking reassurance about weight and body shape.

Symptoms May Vary

It’s crucial to note that symptoms may vary among different types of eating disorders. If you suspect that an adolescent may have an eating disorder, seek professional help. Contact healthcare providers experienced in adolescent eating disorder treatment.

Why is it Important to Pursue Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect millions of adolescents worldwide. Without proper adolescent eating disorder treatment, the damages caused by eating disorders go unchecked. This can eventually lead to severe health defects and even death.

Impact on Physical Health

Eating disorders can have severe consequences on physical health. Some known risks associated with untreated adolescent eating disorders include the following:
  • Malnutrition
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Organ damage
  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Weakened immune system
With adolescent eating disorder treatment, individuals can address these physical complications. This can help in restoring nutritional balance and improving general health.

Psychological Well-Being

Eating disorders concern more than physical health alone. Adolescents with eating disorders often experience complex psychological symptoms.
These are some common psychological signs of an eating disorder:
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Other mental health issues
Proper treatment provides an opportunity to address these underlying psychological and emotional challenges. Treatment should help with developing coping strategies to improve psychological wellbeing.

Preventing Long-term Consequences

The longer an eating disorder goes untreated, the more difficult it becomes to treat. Waiting to get treatment poses a higher risk of developing chronic health issues. Seeking adolescent eating disorder treatment with priority reduces negative impacts on long-term health.

Improved Quality of Life

With adolescent eating disorder treatment, adolescents can regain control over their lives and rebuild relationships. They can engage in activities they enjoy without restrictions.
Without treatment, eating disorders affect the following:7
  • Relationships
  • Academic pursuits
  • General quality of life

Increased Chance of Successful Recovery

Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that need professional treatment. Prompt intervention and a comprehensive treatment approach increase the chances of successful recovery.

Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment: What to Consider

It’s important to provide effective support and communicate with adolescents who are suffering from eating disorders. Every person with an eating disorder is unique, and experiences and needs will vary.

Eating Disorders as Co-Occurring Conditions

Eating disorders may coexist with other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. As eating disorders are complex, involving a multidisciplinary treatment team is critical.

The Importance of Relapse Prevention Strategies

Treatment should focus on the physical health and safety of the individual. Eating disorders have a high risk of relapse. Developing relapse prevention strategies is crucial for sustained recovery.

How to Approach an Individual about Eating Disorder Treatment

If a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, it can be painful to sit back and watch. It is especially difficult if the individual is a son or daughter. 


Suggesting adolescent eating disorder treatment can be a sensitive topic. It is important to stay calm and supportive. Be open to having a conversation.

Above all, approach individuals suffering from eating disorders with the following:
  • Compassion
  • Empathy 
  • Non-judgment

Therapeutic Approaches Used in Adolescent Eating Disorder Treatment at J. Flowers Health Institute

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we understand the complexities of adolescent eating disorder treatment. Our bespoke healthcare is about putting the needs of the patient at the center. We use a range of unique approaches to address the challenges of eating disorders.

Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation

The most effective treatment possible needs a clear diagnosis. Our program ensures an understanding of each client’s needs. 


With a holistic approach, we reveal the causes of adolescent eating disorders. With expert care and support, we can develop effective adolescent eating disorder treatment plans for improved well-being.

Individual Sessions

We provide one-on-one therapy sessions with trained professionals. This is an essential component of adolescent eating disorder treatment. 


These sessions help adolescents with uncovering the underlying factors behind eating disorders. We also help develop coping strategies and work towards recovery.

Community-based Setting

We offer a supportive community where adolescents can connect with peers. Meeting people who are facing similar challenges can have a positive effect. It provides a chance to share experiences and gain insights.

Family-Based Treatment (FBT)

FBT is a very effective approach to eating disorder treatment. It involves participation of the entire family in the treatment process. We empower parents to take an active role in their adolescent’s recovery.

Collaborative Care

With our bespoke healthcare services, an individual gains access to a collaborative team of specialists. We are a team focused on addressing the true root causes of any issue. We are dedicated to providing personalized care across all dimensions of wellness.

Medical Monitoring

Adolescent eating disorder treatment often needs medical monitoring to address any physical complications. 


Fortunately, our Houston location has access to the largest medical campus in the world, and our facility is up-to-date with the most innovative medical treatment modalities.

Our professionals track the weight and other vital signs of patients throughout the treatment process. This is to ensure optimal comfort safety.


Providing adolescents and families with psychoeducation about eating disorders is essential. This helps in understanding the causes and effects of eating disorders as well as the treatment options available. It enables families to make informed decisions and take part in the recovery process.

Relapse Prevention

Recovery from an eating disorder is a journey that requires ongoing support. Our treatment equips individuals with the skills and strategies to prevent relapse. This helps in maintaining a healthy relationship with food and body image in the long term.
Through therapy and a continuum of care, individuals can develop resilience. We teach healthy coping mechanisms for a solid foundation in sustainable recovery.

Support and Guidance

Our adolescent eating disorder treatment provides individuals with a calm environment. J Flowers Health Institute is a supportive place to receive professional guidance and care.

How to Support an Adolescent With an Eating Disorder

Adolescent eating disorder treatment requires a sensitive and comprehensive approach. Here are some strategies to consider:


Educate yourself on eating disorders along with their causes and the treatment options available. This will help with understanding the challenges an adolescent is facing.

Open Communication

Encourage open communication by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment. Help your adolescent to feel comfortable discussing feelings.


It is important to practice empathy with an individual suffering from an eating disorder. Show unconditional love and support. An eating disorder is a complex mental health issue and an individual may be struggling.

Offer Help with Finding Treatment

To overcome an eating disorder one may need professional support. Offer help in finding suitable treatment options.

Promote Healthy Body Image

Promote a healthy body image. Help your adolescent by promoting self-acceptance. This can be done through invitations to practice self-care and fostering an appreciation for beauty that goes beyond skin deep.

Family Involvement

Eating disorders can impact the entire family. Consider involving other family members in the recovery process.
Attend group therapy sessions or family support groups. This promotes a united approach to adolescent eating disorder treatment.

Creative Outlets

Encourage an adolescent to express emotions through creative outlets. The following forms of therapy can provide a healthy outlet and serve as coping mechanisms:
  • Art
  • Journaling
  • Music

How Can J. Flowers Health Institute Help?

Adolescents face many challenges, and eating disorder treatment must be multifaceted. Our mission is to provide clarity and direction for lasting results in the treatment of eating disorders. This is achieved through comprehensive evaluations and collaborative care.

A Holistic Approach to Wellness

With our holistic wellness approach, we gain valuable insights to optimize tailored treatment. This includes life planning for adolescents with eating disorders. Counselors can provide coaching and gentle guidance for adolescents who want to talk about health goals.
We house a team of expert, compassionate clinicians who use the best practices in modern medicine to provide cutting edge care. When it comes to the treatment of eating disorders, our kind and caring staff provides the support you need to face challenges and make positive changes in your health.

Contact J Flowers Health Institute Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us today to learn more about our adolescent eating disorder treatment programs and how we can help.