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Six Ways Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Can Improve Your Relationship with Food and Eating

If someone has an eating disorder, his or her relationship with food and the idea of eating, in general, is strained. Depending on the type of disorder, he or she may be obsessed with food and prone to episodes of binge eating or the individual may have negative feelings about food and avoid it as much as possible. None of these relationships are ideal. Fortunately, an eating disorder residential treatment program can help the individual to recover from the eating disorder and return to a positive relationship with food and eating.

What Is Residential Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that can affect a person’s life in many ways. Although several different types of eating disorders exist, they all involve a troubled relationship with food. While some people with eating disorders restrict their intake of food, others may eat large amounts of food in one sitting. Some people with eating disorders may also use unsafe methods, such as induced vomiting, to rid themselves of calories they consume. All eating disorders can lead to serious consequences, and in some cases, can even be fatal. As a result, it is important for anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder to take the issue seriously and enter a professional treatment program as soon as possible.

Residential eating disorder treatment allows patients to remain at an eating disorder treatment facility for the duration of their treatment program. It is different from a day treatment program, which does not require patients to stay overnight. Residential eating disorder programs offer several advantages to patients over other treatment program structures that make them preferable for many patients. Some of these advantages include:

  • A more intensive therapeutic experience: Residential eating disorder programs are immersive, allowing patients to focus all of their energy on their recovery. Day treatment programs, on the other hand, allow patients to return home, which can cause them to become distracted or face stresses that make recovering more difficult. Although some patients must utilize day treatment, many patients find the intensive experience of a residential program to be more effective.
  • Access to valuable resourcesResidential eating disorder treatment provides patients with direct access to a wide variety of resources on a continuous basis. For example, these programs may offer a range of treatment options, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, education, medical care and more. Most residential eating disorder treatment centers also have experts on staff to provide patients with the guidance and support they need throughout the treatment process.
  • A calm environment: Residential eating disorder treatment centers are designed specifically to serve patients who are recovering from one of these complex disorders. They facilitate a relaxing, comfortable environment that eliminates stress and improves the patient’s ability to recover. This can lead to a faster and more lasting recovery from the eating disorder.

How Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Improves Relationships with Food

Improving the relationship with food is one of the most important parts of treating an eating disorder. Here are six ways a person’s relationship with food and eating can improve as a result of residential eating disorder treatment.

1. Eating disorder residential treatment helps the individual understand what an appropriate relationship with food looks like.

In many cases, someone who has an eating disorder may not know what it means to have an appropriate relationship with food, especially if the individual has been dealing with the symptoms of the eating disorder for a long time. A residential eating disorder treatment program can help patients learn about the type of relationship they should have with food so they can identify the areas that need to be improved. For example, someone who struggles with anorexia nervosa may view food as an “enemy”. However, food is a necessity for living one’s life. Showing this patient the difference between his or her view of food and an appropriate view of food is the first step to improving this particular relationship.

2. Residential treatment programs provide nutrition education.

As a patient with an eating disorder, someone may have a poor relationship with food partly because he or she has had negative experiences with food in the past, such as weight gain. Nutrition education helps patients understand what types of food they need and what amounts are appropriate in order to get the most benefit out of this energy source. Once someone understands how he or she can best use food to his or her advantage, the relationship with food and eating will begin to improve.

3. Eating disorder residential treatment helps patients understand how their disorder developed.

Many patients who have been diagnosed with eating disorders do not understand how their disorders developed. Because they do not understand what went wrong in their relationship with food, it can be difficult to make improvements.

In most cases, residential eating disorder programs begin the treatment process by helping patients to identify the factors that led to the development of their eating disorders in the first place. Once patients are aware of these factors, they can understand why their relationship with food is suffering.

4. Residential treatment programs help patients take steps to resolve the issues that led to the development of the disorder.

After patients have been made aware of the issues that caused them to develop an eating disorder, they need to resolve these issues in order to improve their relationship with food and eating. Most residential treatment programs provide patients with therapies and other support they can use to complete this process. While in residential treatment, patients may participate in many different types of therapy according to a structured schedule. During therapy, patients will learn how to address their issues head-on and work toward a full and lasting recovery.

5. Eating disorder residential treatment helps patients develop coping skills to deal with triggers.

After a patient completes residential eating disorder treatment, he or she will return to normal life. Unfortunately, most patients will eventually face triggers, which are feelings or events that make them want to engage in the behaviors associated with their eating disorders. If a patient is not able to deal with these triggers effectively, he or she may relapse, leading to a worsened relationship with food and eating.

During an effective residential eating disorder treatment program, a patient will learn coping skills that he or she can use to deal with triggers even after the program is complete. These skills help to ensure the patient maintains a full recovery and a better relationship with food.

6. Residential treatment programs help patients resolve co-occurring disorders that may affect their relationship with food.

Eating disorders are not the only issues that can have a negative impact on your relationship with food. For example, if a patient has anxiety or depression, he or she may use food as a way to escape from these issues or as a source of comfort. Many residential eating disorder programs offer treatment for patients with co-occurring psychiatric problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders. Addressing these issues can help to improve the patient’s relationship with food even further, ensuring he or she has a healthy relationship with food and that the patient is not using eating as a way to deal with mood swings, uncomfortable feelings or any other psychiatric concern.

Finding a Residential Treatment Program

Whether an individual has the symptoms of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or another type of eating disorder, entering an appropriate treatment program is the best way to deal with the disorder and begin on the path to recovery. However, not all residential eating disorder programs will provide patients with the same quality of care. In order to ensure the patient is receiving the best care possible for his or her needs, it is possible to consider all options carefully before enrolling in a program.

One issue to consider when comparing different eating disorder residential treatment centers is the length of the program offered. While some patients may be able to recover from an eating disorder quickly, others may need to remain in a facility for a longer period of time in order to prevent relapse. Patients should be sure the facility chosen will allow them to remain in treatment for as long as they need. The best facilities are those that will allow patients to recover at their own pace and reevaluate their needs throughout the program to see if a longer stay may be necessary.

Another issue to consider when comparing eating disorder treatment programs is the type of therapies used. In general, it is best to look for a treatment facility that offers a wide variety of treatment options, such as different types of counseling, medical care and alternative therapies. Patients should also look for a treatment facility that continues to provide support to its patients even after they have completed the treatment program. These services, which are known as “aftercare,” can dramatically reduce the incidence of relapse among people who have graduated from eating disorder treatment.

A third issue to think about when choosing an eating disorder treatment program is the facility’s reputation and success rate. The facility’s reputation provides information about how past patients have responded to treatment and whether they would recommend the program to others. Likewise, the facility’s success rate tells you how effective the facility’s programs have been at helping patients to achieve full recovery from their eating disorders. Potential patients can learn about a facility’s reputation and success rates by reading reviews from program graduates and/or contacting the facility directly to request information.

Let Monte Nido Improve Your Relationship with Food

At Monte Nido, our goal is not only to help patients eliminate the symptoms of their eating disorders, but also to help them develop a better relationship with food so they can live their best life. The experts at our facility understand how eating disorders develop and how they affect our patients. Using this information, we create customized treatment programs designed to meet the unique needs of every patient we encounter.

Monte Nido offers a wide variety of therapies, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, psychiatric care, medical treatment and more. We also offer nutrition education, exercise education and treatment for people who have co-occurring disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder or PTSD. Studies have shown the majority of patients who complete our eating disorder treatment programs report improved symptoms, even several years after leaving the facility. We offer treatment for all types of eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and more. Please contact us today at 888.228.1253 to find out how we can help you become fully recovered.

Melissa Orshan Spann, PhD, LMHC, RTY 200, is Chief Clinical Officer at Monte Nido & Affiliates, overseeing the clinical operations and programming for over 50 programs across the U.S. Dr. Spann is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and clinical supervisor as well as an accomplished presenter and passionate clinician who has spent her career working in the eating disorder field in higher levels of care. She is a member of the Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals where she serves on the national certification committee, supervision faculty, and is on the board of her local chapter. She received her doctoral degree from Drexel University, master’s degree from the University of Miami, and bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.