Eating Disorder Treatment

Yes, you CAN reach long-lasting recovery. Let’s talk about it.

It’s about so much more than food.

Shame, trauma, perfectionism, fears, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, toxic relationships, neglect, unavailable or inconsistent emotional nourishment, and more can leave many people stuck in unhealthy eating patterns. Disordered food relationship or unhealthy compensatory behaviors can evolve from attempts to self-soothe or tame unspeakable thoughts and feelings. 

Although many people believe that eating disorders are an issue exclusive to young women, the truth is that anyone can be affected.  They can be found among people belonging to all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, religions, abilities, sexual orientations, lifestyles, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, it is impossible to tell if someone has an eating disorder based on their appearance alone.  Contrary to the misguided belief that one has to be super skinny, there are many people who have eating disorders even if they are within their normal body weight.  

Eating disorders are highly complex, and the causes of their development are not fully understood. Risk factors include a combination of distorted body image, experiencing a mental illness like depression, a history of trauma, media influences, family dynamics, struggles with obsessions or compulsions, and genetic predispositions. All of these things and more can lead to a disordered relationship with food and feelings of guilt and shame related to eating and body image.

Your experiences and feelings are valid! We see you. We support you. We want to help you regain control and revitalize your body and mind so you can lead a happier, more empowered life.

Our Approach

River Oaks Psychology is a trusted provider of comprehensive, evidence-based treatment for eating disorders, including but not limited to anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder (BED) avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and atypical forms of eating disorders. We are wholeheartedly committed to the full spectrum of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors among all genders. Our online outpatient program connects you to an eating disorder specialist via our secure, HIPAA-compliant video platform. Each case is highly individualized and treatment is tailored to your specific needs wherever you may be in your recovery journey.

Why receive ED treatment online with River Oaks?

What are the different Eating Disorders?


Anorexia is characterized by extreme calorie reduction and intentional malnourishment. Symptoms may include a hyperfocus on body weight, size, and shape, intense fears about gaining weight, emotional dysregulation, obsessional thought patterns, low self-worth, anxiety, depression, and difficulty with perfectionism or rigid behaviors and beliefs. Experiencing a history of trauma also makes one more likely to develop anorexia. People struggling with anorexia typically struggle to maintain an appropriate body weight based on their height, age, stature, and physical health – but anorexia can also be diagnosed as atypical in individuals not experiencing weight loss if all other criteria is met. Therefore, it is impossible to diagnose someone with anorexia by appearance or weight alone. Many people with anorexia restrict calories and/or restrict the types of foods eaten, but individuals may also exercise compulsively and/or purge the food they eat through intentional vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or other methods. In all cases, the individual is not receiving adequate nutrition. Left untreated, the malnourishment over time is often life-threatening.


Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person has regular episodes of eating a very large amount of food (binging) during which the person feels a loss of control over eating. The person then uses different methods to compensate for the binge, such as purging the food through induced vomiting or using laxatives, to prevent weight gain. Other methods of compensation can include fasting or excessive exercise. Unlike anorexia, the individual may be consuming normal amounts of nutrition during times they are not binging/purging. Nonetheless, there are serious medical consequences that can result from bulimia, including cardiovascular problems, permanent damage to the digestive system, organ failure, and more. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a person has bulimia. This is because people with bulimia are often at a healthy weight and binge and purge in private when friends or family members are not around.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by episodes of rapidly eating an abnormally large amount of food in a short period of time while feeling of loss of control during the episode and significant shame and guilt afterward. Binge eating often occurs at times of high stress, anger, loneliness, or feelings of emotional neglect. At such times, binge eating is used as a way to cope with or distract from challenging emotions that feel unmanageable to the person. Unlike bulimia, the binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of compensatory behaviors. It’s important to understand that Binge Eating Disorder is much more complex than “emotional eating,” or choosing comfort foods when feeling overwhelmed. With this disorder, the compulsive binges are fueled by significant mental health symptoms, often including emotional dysregulation, trauma, impulsivity, anxiety, depression, and obsessional thinking.


Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, often shortened to ARFID, is an eating disorder in which a person seriously limits the type or amounts of food consumed. Avoiding or restricting food consumption is often due to hypersensitivity to the texture or taste of food, irrational concerns about adverse consequences of eating certain foods, or other types of personal discomfort with eating that leads to a lack of willingness to consume a variety of foods. ARFID is more serious than simply being a “picky eater.” Many people struggling with ARFID have significant struggles with psychosocial functioning and often experience malnourishment or dependence on nutritional supplements to meet its energy needs. Unlike anorexia, there is no apparent distress with body shape or size or fears about gaining weight. Individuals with ARFID are not restricting calories due to body image concerns but rather are restricting the types of food consumed due to highly selective eating preferences.

Other Eating Disorders

Sometimes an individual may struggle with an eating disorder that does not meet the exact criteria for one of the diagnoses outlined in the DSM, but still exhibits a high degree of severity that requires professional treatment similar to treatment for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, or ARFID. For example, an individual may have atypical anorexia, bulimia with episodes of binging that looks different from the standard criteria, purging disorder (recurrent episodes of purging without binge eating), night eating syndrome, or other problematic eating behaviors. These types of eating disorders can be just as serious as the others and may even have a higher degree of complexity. Treatment must be tailored individually for the person and their unique symptoms.

How can therapy help with Eating Disorders?

Therapy is an extremely important part of recovering from an eating disorder. One of the main reasons why therapy is so helpful for eating disorder treatment is because therapy allows for a safe, non-judgmental space with a dedicated, trained professional who will compassionately listen and understand the complexities of your unique journey. Many people with eating disorders struggle with self-expression, making emotional regulation difficult. Through therapy, people are able to practice talking about their feelings, thoughts, and experiences as it relates to personal stress in their lives, their body image, and their relationship with food. Having the entrusted support from a therapist can provide reassurance for a person and help them gain confidence in their ability to manage their eating disorder.

Therapists are also trying to help people identify any negative thoughts associated with their eating disorder and to recognize when their disorder is affecting their ability to function. People are able to gain insight into the roots of their eating disorder as they discuss the underlying issues that may be causing their disordered eating behaviors. Through this process, therapists help people learn how to recognize their triggers in cope with them more effectively, leading to a healthier emotional state.

In addition, therapy can help an individual learn how to recognize their own body’s needs. Through therapy, an individual can recognize the signs of hunger and fullness and learn how to respond to their body rather than denying their physical needs. It is important to recognize that food is not the enemy, and in fact is essential to optimal physical and mental health. Therapy typically emphasizes the need to look at the big picture and appreciate the calming, comforting and enjoyable aspects of food. Ultimately, the process of therapy can help individuals make treatment-oriented food choices, choose reasonable amounts of food, schedule regular meals and snacks, and reduce food-related anxiety.

Other therapeutic goals might include addressing any other underlying conditions, such as depression or anxiety, or healing from trauma, which may have been compounding eating disorder symptoms in a person’s life. Learning healthy coping strategies to deal with these mental health struggles and making the lifestyle changes can help people with eating disorders live more balanced lives and establish healthier relationships with food.

Overall, therapy can be an incredibly valuable tool for helping an individual cope with and recover from an eating disorder. By offering a safe space to talk, identify underlying issues, and develop healthier coping strategies, therapy is often a necessary component of one’s recovery journey. At River Oaks Psychology, we want everyone to feel welcome here no matter where you may be in your journey. If you have questions about eating disorders or your relationship with food, please reach out to us. We would be honored to connect you with our eating disorder specialists who can help you make sense of your experiences. You matter. You’re never alone. And we really care about you.