Eating Disorder Treatment Programs for

Teen Girls

Eating disorders are serious conditions that can affect anyone at any age. However, teen girls are often more susceptible to these conditions due to bullying, weight shaming, and the mainstream media’s idealization of thinness in women.1

Teen girls with eating disorders should receive treatment as soon as possible, so that they may begin their healing process. Eating disorder treatment programs for teens can help them overcome their daily struggles and cope with their condition.

Teen Girls

Understanding

Teen Girls

with Eating Disorders

Eating disorders in teenage girls often stem from early childhood bullying and the public misconception that to be "cool" or "liked" means you must be thin and pretty.2 

Studies show that of American elementary school girls who already read magazines, 69% of them feel magazine pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. Meanwhile, 47% say that those pictures make them want to lose weight.3

Stats & Trends in Teen Girls with Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to understand teen girls suffering from various eating disorders. While it may seem like common sense that the practices associated with eating disorders are unhealthy and potentially dangerous, the brain of those suffering from these conditions simply doesn't see it this way. 

In many instances, teen girls have been conditioned from a very young age to believe that they are not enough and that their body doesn't meet the beauty standards. 

For instance, studies continue to show that children whose parents are overly concerned about their weight are at increased risks for modeling unhealthy attitudes and behaviors.

Teasing also plays a significant role in teen girls who suffer from various eating disorders. It is estimated that 40% of early adolescent and 28.2% of middle adolescent girls that fall into larger body categories were teased by both their peers and family members.5 

Unfortunately, teasing and bullying has led to an epidemic of eating disorders in teen girls, with approximately 13.2% of girls will suffer from an eating disorder as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).6, 7

Teen Girls

Eating Disorder Signs & Symptoms

A crucial part of finding treatment programs for teen girls is understanding the many signs and symptoms of disordered eating. While some teens may be more obvious with their actions, such as not eating during mealtime, others may be better at hiding their disorder. 

If you believe that your teen may be suffering from an eating disorder, you'll want to watch for the following signs and symptoms:8

  • Prioritizing activities revolving around dieting and weight loss
  • Preoccupation with weight (particularly weight gain), food intake (especially the elimination of food groups), and popular diet fads
  • Extreme concern with body shape and size
  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight (either up or down)
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Skin changes
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems 

Should you notice that your teen is suffering from any of the above signs and symptoms of an eating disorder, it's vital that you get them help as soon as you can.

Treating

Teen Girls

with Eating Disorders

It's important to remember that not all teen girls with eating disorders are the same. Not all eating disorders are the same, and not all eating disorder treatment programs for teen girls are created equally. However, with the right treatment and a tight-knit support system, recovery is possible. 

The first step in finding an eating disorder treatment program for your teen is to speak with their medical team. Their doctor will be able to help accurately diagnose which eating disorder they may be suffering from. 

The diagnostic process will require an extensive patient assessment, a complete medical exam, and laboratory testing to see how the body had already been affected by the patient's habits. 

Eating Disorder Treatment Programs for Teen Girls

Eating disorder treatment programs for teens provide an environment where teens can focus on their recovery with the support of a team of medical professionals, counselors, therapists, and facilitators.

During eating disorder treatment, the teen will receive treatment plans led by a team of medical professionals to create individualized treatment plans that address each patient's needs. The program aims to help teenagers stop engaging in disordered eating and harmful behaviors while also improving their physical and emotional health. 

Typical treatment programs include: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Psychological counseling
  • Medication assessment and treatment

Coping Strategies for

Teen Girls

with Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can cause considerable distress for those who suffer from them and those who love them. Due to the stigma and fear around having certain eating disorders, some teens are afraid to tell anyone they are struggling and won’t seek out the treatment they need.9 

This fear will only worsen your teen’s problem and make it more difficult for them to get the help they need. 

It’s essential to make sure that you give your child all the support they need, including talking to them about what is going on and allowing them to speak with you without fear of judgment.

Once treatment has begun, you must be an active member of the treatment team. You will want to ask questions and be as involved as you can in therapy to ensure that your teen gets the best treatment possible. 

The following are some other ways you can help your teen cope with their eating disorder:

  • Talk to them: Be there for your teen. Make sure they know that the lines of communication are open, and you can be trusted as a safe space for speaking about what’s on their mind. 
  • Give them encouragement: Have realistic expectations of how their life will be as a result of their eating disorder. Encourage them to continue on their path toward recovery.
  • Set boundaries: Set clear expectations of them during treatment. Be firm but respectful in setting boundaries such as diet programs and eating out. 
  • Do your best to stay positive: When you are around your teen, try to make things as normal as possible. Keep your mood light and positive. 
  • Be consistent: Be consistent in your actions and your messages. Remain optimistic and optimistic in your messages. Do not let your teen or their eating disorder guide your behavior.

How to Help Your Teenage Girl with an Eating Disorder

If you suspect that your teenage daughter may be struggling with an eating disorder, talk with them about your concerns.

Even if your teen is hiding their eating disorder it is likely due to them feeling ashamed or being unable to communicate their need for help appropriately. Don’t take this behavior personally. 

Open lines of communication are the first step in helping your teen get the treatment they need. It is also crucial that you take a comprehensive approach to the issue, as many eating disorders are treatable with a combination of medication and therapy. 

Get your teen's doctor involved and see what they suggest as far as treatment options go. They may suggest a combination of inpatient or outpatient therapy, as well as counseling and educational classes. These forms of treatment will help your teen better understand what they are going through and ways they can better cope with their symptoms

How to Help

Teen Girls

with Eating Disorders

There are many things that you can do to help a teen cope with an eating disorder. Recognition is the first step, and whether you are a parent, family member, or friend, you must reach out to the person in question regarding your concerns. 

Ensure that you are speaking from a place of full understanding and acceptance of them and their situation, and that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being. 

If you are a teenager and are worried about your friend, start by speaking to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, or relative) who can assist you in providing support. 

If you believe a teen girl in your life may have an eating disorder, schedule a call and let our team of specialists help you find an appropriate eating disorder treatment program for your teen.

Frequently 
asked questions

Are All Treatment Programs for Teen Girls with Eating Disorders the Same?

No, eating disorder treatment programs for teen girls can vary in many ways. Some programs are more medically focused than others, while others may focus on eating disorders in a broader context. The type of program you select depends on what type of eating disorder your teen is suffering from and their stage in the recovery process.

Do All Treatment Programs for Teen Girls Include Nutrition Counseling?

Yes, nutrition counseling is a necessary part of eating disorder treatment programs for teen girls. Your team of medical professionals will carefully monitor your teen's nutrition intake and promote healthy eating habits.

How Long Do Teen Treatment Programs for Girls With Eating Disorders Typically Take?

There is no set treatment program length for teens with eating disorders, as each case is unique. Some teens with eating disorders may need to be in treatment for only a few weeks, while others may need to be in treatment for several months or longer.

Resources

  1. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. (2015, June 19). Research review: What we have learned about the causes of eating disorders – a synthesis of sociocultural, psychological, and biological research. Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
  2. National Eating Disorders Association. (2021, July 14). Statistics & research on eating disorders.
  3. Martin, J. B. (2010). The Development of Ideal Body Image Perceptions in the United States. Nutrition Today, 45(3), 98-100. Retrieved from National Eating Disorder Association.
  4. Andreyeva, T., Puhl, R. M. and Brownell, K. D. (2008), Changes in Perceived Weight Discrimination Among Americans, 1995–1996 Through 2004–2006. Obesity, 16: 1129–1134. Retrieved from National Eating Disorder Association.
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2016, September 1). Preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents. 
  6. Stice E, Marti CN, Shaw H, and Jaconis M. (2010). An 8-year longitudinal study of the natural history of threshold, subthreshold, and partial eating disorders from a community sample of adolescents. Retrieved from National Eating Disorder Association.
  7. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education. (2017, July). Eating disorders. 
  8. National Eating Disorders Association. (2021, July 14). Warning signs and symptoms.
  9. Wiley Online Library. (2008, February 27). Public Perceptions of Binge Eating and Its Treatment.
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