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Learn more about the results we get at Within

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Anorexia home treatment

Treating anorexia nervosa (AN) is often a tricky prospect. While weight restoration and recovery from this mental health condition are entirely possible, they often require tailored treatment from a team of professionals that cater to physical, mental, and emotional health.

Many people who struggle with AN wonder if it's possible to achieve anorexia recovery at home instead. But the answer is not entirely straightforward.

Patients dealing with an anorexia nervosa diagnosis should be treated by professionals, as the condition is widely considered one of the deadliest eating disorders, especially if it reaches the point where a patient requires hospitalization.5 But there are some eating disorder treatment programs that can be completed at home, and home remedies for anorexia that can help encourage a happier and smoother eating disorder recovery.

6
 minute read
Last updated on 
December 11, 2023
Anorexia home treatment
In this article

What is anorexia home treatment?

The idea of anorexia home treatment is still relatively new. It's a form of mental health care that uses technology to remotely connect patients with their treatment team and allow them to complete treatment programs from home.

Some treatment programs will utilize other tools to help a patient keep up with recovery at home, including books, worksheets, shopping lists, or pre-made meals. But in any case, a patient exclusively receiving at-home anorexia treatment should be at a point in their recovery journey where their disordered eating habits are at least partly under control, and they are not in need of regular medical supervision.

Professional treatment at home

At Within, our clients connect to their team of specialists via the Within app, which allows them to send messages, attend therapy sessions, access meals, and stay up to date on their treatment plan. Specialists at Within also use remote patient monitoring, using devices like a numberless scale and blood pressure cuff, to complete medical check-ins with each patient during their treatment.

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When to try anorexia treatment at home

Home treatment for anorexia nervosa is a revolutionary change in the eating disorder treatment model, allowing more patients to receive greater access to care. But this level of care is not appropriate for everyone.

Generally, at-home treatments for any type of eating disorder are only recommended in cases where a patient is considered medically stable. It's also usually important that eating disorder symptoms are at least relatively under control and the patient is not presenting any other signs warranting immediate concern or struggling with serious co-occurring mental health disorders.

You should also know when you should not try anorexia home treatment. This level of care is not recommended for anyone currently experiencing:3

  • Fainting spells
  • Low blood pressure or a low heart rate
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Significant hair loss
  • Suicidal thoughts

This is not a comprehensive list of issues that may indicate a patient is not ready for at-home care, so it's important to speak honestly and openly with your primary care physician, therapist, or psychiatrist, and to be honest on any intake forms a program asks you to fill out.

But if you are told you do not qualify for at-home care yet, it doesn't mean that will always be the case. Studies show that severe AN cases can initially be treated through inpatient care, with psychotherapy and nutrition therapy continuing at home.1,2

Anorexia refeeding at home

Anorexia refeeding at home is a process that can be difficult for both patients and their caretakers. It involves slowly increasing the amount of calories and types of foods consumed over time. Meal plans generally contain specific food categories, including dairy, fat, fruit, meat, starches, and vegetables, with a patient and their treatment team you and your team will determine while monitoring and helping you avoid a relapse.3,4

Anorexia refeeding can be especially challenging because many people with eating disorders have poor nutritional knowledge or have developed unhealthy eating habits over time. They may also experience anxiety about eating more food than they're used to consuming, which can cause a relapse.3,4

Anxiety about eating food can cause a relapse in anorexia nervosa.

In extreme cases, including those where a patient has been struggling for a long time or experienced significant weight loss, it's not recommended to treat anorexia at home in this way, as someone may run the risk of experiencing refeeding syndrome, a potentially life-threatening complication. That's why it's so important to reach out to medical professionals for guidance on how to best navigate the recovery journey.

8 Tips for anorexia recovery at home

Curing anorexia at home with no outside help is not recommended. The condition is dangerous, often borne of a complex combination of mental, physical, and emotional components which should be treated by mental health professionals.

However, if you're already receiving treatment at home, there are some home remedies for anorexia that may make the recovery process easier, including:

  • Practice self-compassion: Healing is a journey and takes time. Remember that biological changes can’t happen overnight.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food well: It may take longer than usual to eat your meals, but that’s okay. Use positive self-talk and give yourself as much time as needed to eat.
  • Avoid skipping meals altogether: Skipping meals can make you more prone to relapse or go back to compensatory behaviors like purging or excessive exercise.
  • Practice having meals together with people who can support you: Try to create fun rituals around eating with your family and friends.
  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently: Eat five or six small meals each day instead of three large ones.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Your body needs at least eight hours of sleep in order to have plenty of time to recover from the day’s activities.
  • Take up journaling: Share how you’re feeling with your team and caregivers.
  • Join a support group: You are not alone in this journey!

Remember: Recovery is a journey. It may have twists, turns, ups, and downs, but allowing yourself the grace to go through that process—even the unpleasant aspects of it—without feeling rushed or guilty about what your journey looks like is an important component of long-term recovery and self-love.

At home anorexia treatment

Anorexia home treatment at Within

Home treatment for anorexia nervosa is very possible when done alongside a professional treatment provider like Within Health.

At Within, we provide an intensive outpatient program (IOP) specifically designed for eating disorders, as effective as face-to-face treatment that is easily integrated into your daily routine. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT-E) are potent approaches that can be performed in the comfort of your home, targeting the underlying thoughts and beliefs fueling the disorder.

Within Health has a team of specialists that tailor your treatment plan. When needed, we send remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices to track your vital signs, have regular check-ins, apps to guide your diet, and have after-hours access during rough patches.

If you’d like help in overcoming your disordered eating behaviors with the support of a compassionate team of care providers, please reach out to Within now. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure your care is as personalized as the eating disorder itself. Full recovery is possible and can start today. 

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.

Resources

  1. Toman, I., Rye, P., Desy, J., & Ma, I. W. Y. (2018). Point-of-care ultrasound for the assessment of digital clubbing. The American Journal of Medicine, 131(11).
  2. Mehler, P. (2022, August 3). Anorexia nervosa in adults: Evaluation for medical complications and criteria for hospitalization to manage these complications\. UpToDate.
  3. Herpertz‐Dahlmann, B., Borzikowsky, C., Altdorf, S., Heider, K., Dempfle, A., & Dahmen, B. (2020). Therapists in action—home treatment in adolescent anorexia nervosa: A stepped care approach to shorten inpatient treatment. European Eating Disorders Review, 29(3), 427–442.
  4. Flütsch, N., Hilti, N., Schräer, C., Soumana, M., Probst, F., Häberling, I., Berger, G., & Pauli, D. (2021). Feasibility and acceptability of home treatment as an add‐on to family based therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa. A case series. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 54(9), 1707–1710.
  5. van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2020). Review of the burden of eating disorders: mortality, disability, costs, quality of life, and family burden. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 33(6), 521–527.

FAQs

Is anorexia refeeding at home possible?

Anorexia refeeding at home is possible but should only be done with the guidance of medical and nutritional experts, particularly in cases where a patient continues to lose weight or shows other signs of potential complications. It's important to speak to your medical team before trying to cure anorexia at home this way.

Are there home remedies for anorexia nervosa?

Home remedies for anorexia are available but are once again only recommended as supplementary care to professional treatment. But if you're looking to treat anorexia at home, technology has made that increasingly possible.

Our program at Within treats patients with anorexia nervosa from the comfort of their own homes utilizing our app and website and with remote monitoring medical devices like numberless scales and blood pressure cuffs.

Where can I find virtual treatment for anorexia nervosa?

Within offers a clinically proven, comprehensive method for helping you recover from AN from the comforts of your home. We provide remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices to track your vital signs, ongoing one-on-one and group therapy, nutritional guidance, and after-hours care.

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Further reading

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