Eating Disorder Treatment in Grand Rapids

Eating disorders are mental health issues that involve a person’s lack of control in their relationship with food. This manifests itself in all sorts of ways. Some people suffering with an eating disorder eat too much. Others eat too little. Then, there are those who simply struggle with the physical act of eating.

The most common types of eating disorders include:

  1. Anorexia Nervosa
  2. Bulimia Nervosa
  3. Binge Eating Disorder
  4. Purging Disorder
  5. Night Eating Syndrome
  6. Pica
  7. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), previously known as Feeding Disorder of Infancy and Early Childhood
  8. Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED), previously known as Eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) now recognizes eating disorders as mental illnesses. However, eating disorders often have major impacts on physical health. If left unattended, these can lead to serious health problems or can even be fatal. It is important that during recovery the patient’s physical health is monitored. For adolescents and children with eating disorders, a pediatrician is normally involved in the medical care.

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Different Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are considered to be among the deadliest mental illnesses. Overall, it has 10% mortality rate, and carries the highest risk of death compared to all other mental illnesses. There are an estimated 30 million people who have or have had an eating disorder in the United States. Thankfully, eating disorder therapists are successfully diagnosing and treating various disorders every day. Due to the deadly nature of this mental illness, we can all take the steps to educate ourselves about making changes. This can lead us towards recognizing when others need help, and teach us to have a better personal relationship with food.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anoreixa Nervosa has two medically recognized types, the restrictive type and the binge/purging type. People with anorexia who are the restrictive type severely limit their food intake to avoid gaining weight. People who binge and purge, may cycle back and forth as if they are moving from anorexia to binge eating. It may appear that they’re eating regularly, but they will offset their eating by purging. In both cases, people struggling with anorexia are motivated by an intense fear of gaining weight, even if they become severely underweight.

Anorexia affects people of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds. Treatment for anorexia may require all levels of care, including inpatient treatment, residential treatment, partial hopitalization treatment and intensive outpatient treatment. However, anorexia treatment initially focuses on weight restoration and medical stabilization. This may include psychiatric care and supervision if necessary.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa has two types, purging bulimia and non-purging bulimia. People with purging bulimia will regularly vomit, use laxatives, or otherwise seek to expel food they have recently binged. People with non-purging bulimia will resort to extreme exercise or fasting in order to prevent weight gain after a binge. Though these behaviors are similar to binge/purging anorexia, the key difference is long-term weight restriction.

People suffering from bulimia tend to have a normal body weight or are overweight. Binging behaviors are pervasive, and though it is followed by adjustment behaviors, bulimics do not characteristically display long-term weight suppression. Though the similarities between disorders can make the symptoms hard to distinguish, an eating disorder therapist will be able to make the right diagnosis after a psychological assessment. Bulimia treatment usually involves nutritional counseling, restoring normal eating behavior, and possibly psychological or medical treatment.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is characterized by regularly eating large amounts of food, paired with a sense of helplessness to control the urge. Unlike bulimia, people who are binge eating do not pair their food consumption with any purging behaviors or exercise. This can lead to a vicious cycle of self-loathing; food becomes both the cause of the problem and a comforter for the pain.

Binge eating can lead to a variety of physical and emotional issues. Stress binge eating or nervous binge eating are usually paired with other anxiety issues. You may even suffer from depression or substance abuse along with binge eating. The goal of a binge eating disorder therapist will be helping you develop a healtheir relationship with food. Overcoming binge eating usually means finding other ways to feed your feelings. Once you learn to tolerate the feelings that trigger your actions, you can take your first step towards binge eating recovery.

Purging Disorder

Purging disorder is an eating disorder in which a person feels the need to constantly purge, regardless of how they’re eating. Unlike the cycle of binging and purging that accompanies bulimia, purging disorder focuses mainly on the purge. However, there is some conflict on how to diagnose this eating disorder, because it is not clearly defined. Although most purging behaviors make this disorder apparent, issues such as extreme exercise can be highly subjective. For this reason, it has been characterized among the OSFED categories.

The nature of this eating disorder also makes treatment a case-by-case situation. There is evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy, a treatment for bulimia that is generally successful, may work here as well. However, similar to someone struggling with anorexia, there is a prevalent fear of weight gain they stop purging. Thus, the goal of an eating disorder therapist in this situation is understanding the background of the client to best comprise a treatment plan.

Night Eating Syndrome

Night eating syndrome is similar to binge eating disorder, however it is not necessarily paired with over eating. Instead, people dealing with night eating syndrome feel a loss of control of their eating behaviors and struggle with guilt and shame over their eating. Many people suffering from night eating syndrome do happen to be overweight, and in many cases, may actually be binge eaters.

People with night eating syndrome typically eat the bulk of their food during the evening or night hours, while eating little to nothing during the day. Night eating syndrome is generally associated with college students and dieters who restrict themselves during the day, only to crash and compensate for their hunger at night. Night eating syndrome treatment involves counseling that is focused on establishing a healthier relationship with food.


Pica is an eating disorder that is characterized by the compulsive need to eat items that have no nutritional value. This can be items not typically thought of as food, but it is usually a problem due to eating nonfood items. This can be paint, objects on the floor, or even feces. This eating disorder usually occurs in children, but can also affect pregnant women. This condition is usually temporary, but can lead to serious consequences if left unchecked.

People with intellectual impairments are the most likely to suffer from this condition long-term. People may also develop this eating disorder due to other mental health conditions such as schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is then used as a coping mechanism.

Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is characterized by people who severely limit their food intake, but is not due to a preoccupation with body image or weight gain. Instead, someone with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder may appear to just be a picky eater who takes it to extreme levels. Specifically, there tends to be a strong aversion to particular foods, which can result in choking or vomiting. As a result, this can lead to significant weight loss or nutritional deficiencies. This can also affect day to day life and activities, and in some cases, this can result in a dependence on feeding tubes or nutritional supplements.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder represents an estimated 32 to 53 percent of all individuals with eating disorders. This is because, many clients do not fit neatly into a typical category for an eating disorder. This means, permutations of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating are classified under this category. Other lesser known eating disorders, such as purging disorder and night eating syndrome, are considered to be under OSFED. Though some people with OSFED may have a less severe diagnosis compared to other eating disorders, many still suffer with severe symptoms that occur with eating disorders.

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Do You Have an Eating Disorder?

Concealment or denial is common among people suffering from an eating disorder. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to detect in others. However, if you are concerned that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, there are some telltale signs you can watch for.

Common signs of someone suffering from an eating disorder:

  1. Dramatic weight loss.
  2. Makes frequent comments about feeling ‘fat’ despite apparent weight loss.
  3. An inability or an avoidance to having meals with other people.
  4. Feelings of guilt about being hungry.
  5. Noticing irregular patterns with eating in your life.
  6. Chronic fatigue or weakness that limits your ability to engage is physical activity.
  7. Obsessively thinking about food or body image issues daily.
  8. Feeling like food or body image issues are ruling your life and actions.
  9. Constant desire to purge, binge, excessive exercise, or inspect your body.
  10. Experiencing difficulty concentrating on other tasks.
  11. Anxious reactions to issues or concerns surrounding food or body image. This can include trembling, sweating, getting flushed, or your heart racing.
  12. A preoccupation about your eating disorder behaviors affecting the people around you.

Eating Disorder Help Near Me

Like all patients with mental illnesses, people suffering from eating disorders can’t just snap out of it. It takes help and the courage to seek it out. An eating disorder therapist can give you that help. Psychotherapy helps identify the psychological stresses that may have contributed to the onset of the eating disorder. This means addressing pertinent issues such as the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that led to the development and maintenance of the eating disorder. This may also mean tackling issues with anxiety, depression, poor self esteem, lacking in self confidence, or difficulties with interpersonal relationships. Through talking and other techniques, this process reduces the feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, negative body image, and guilt to help our clients to develop their life skills.

Building a trusting relationship with an eating disorder therapist is the basis of psychological treatment. The treatment ultimately aims to empower the client to realize their own resources to overcome their difficulties. If you or someone you know needs help, Call HCH Therapy and Counseling today. A counselor can help you build the skills and techniques necessary to survive an eating disorder and help you with recover.

If you are facing a medical emergency, please reach out the National Eating Disorder Association helpline at (800) 931-2237. They are available until 9PM, Monday through Thursday. For crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day.

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Get in Touch Now!

HCH Therapy and Counseling provides help for eating disorders. My aim is to make all the mental health services I provide both accessible and affordable. I accept many insurances, and have variable payment options based on financial need. I also participate in community education efforts to reduce stigmas that pertain to mental health by engaging in multiple forms of outreach — from community suppers to free workshops.