3 Steps To Prepare for Residential Eating Disorder Treatment


Eating disorder can have an impact on both one’s physical and emotional well-being. Eating disorder sufferers have inappropriate associations with food, their weight, or their looks. Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders can be treated, when remain untreated, this can lead to serious health issues in a person.

In America, 10 million boys and men and 20 million girls and women suffer from an eating disorder. Numerous intricate elements, including as heredity, brain physiology, personality, cultural and societal values, and mental health conditions, can contribute to eating disorders.

One of the highest levels of therapy for an eating problem is residential treatment, which is regarded as one step below inpatient hospitalization. In residential care, patients dwell at the institution, take part in a variety of therapeutic activities, and are continuously monitored by medical staff. For any patient who is medically stable but still needs close monitoring to address the symptoms of their eating disorder, residential eating disorder therapy is the best option. Purging, using laxatives, limiting one’s diet, or engaging in extreme activity are some of these signs.

girl with no appetite on a table surrounded with food

Residential treatment for eating disorders like bulimia nervosa, ARFID, OSFED, or anorexia nervosa comes in many varieties, at various treatment centers around the country. However, although the programs often differ greatly in their scope, incoming clients should be ready to make this change in their lives by learning more about what residential eating disorder treatment entails. It is possible to prepare for eating disorder treatment by taking three simple but important steps.

1. Have a dialogue with the treatment center before admitting

Residential treatment can be imposing; you’re taking a major step in recovery, but you’re also removing yourself from your daily life for a month or more – a bit of fear is totally normal. Thankfully, the staff at an eating disorder treatment center is used to helping nervous people please take the next steps. Most centers have dedicated admissions specialists who can outline the programs and assuage those anxieties, which means they are capable of sharing the details of their program. They say knowing is half the battle – the admissions specialists will be able to provide that knowledge to the potential client and their family.

They will not consider questions about the program or what to expect a bother. In fact, they will welcome such questions. Potential clients should ask about several things; among many others, they should ask about meal times and structures, exercise programs, what kinds of therapy to expect, living and bedroom situations, whether they will have a roommate, what kind of medical and psychiatric support will be available, and what privileges and privacy are allowed to the residents.

Most treatment centers can offer an information packet to upcoming residents to check out or offer a virtual or in-person tour. The information packet should contain all the fundamental information that one needs to know about the program that they are going to attend. Of course, there will be more questions in virtually every situation. The admission specialists or other staff can provide some clarification on the phone, but follow-up calls might be necessary to get to the bottom of more esoteric questions.

2. Make a list of questions to go over with the admissions team

It can be a little overwhelming to process all the possible information in one sitting. Before or after your first call with an admissions specialist, you should make a list of questions you have about residential eating disorder treatment. Some examples and FAQs include:

  • How long is the program? 30 days, longer, or a case-by-case basis?
  • What are the residential rooms like – are there roommates, shared bathrooms, etc.?
  • How often can the resident expect to be able to visit with loved ones?
  • What therapeutic methods are available?
  • What kind of medical support is there?
  • What is a day like at the facility for residents?
  • What is the surrounding location like?
  • What should the upcoming resident bring with them to the facility?
  • How does the staff at the facility measure progress in the program?

You should also consider specialty questions. For instance, you may wish to know if the center is female-only or adolescent-only, or whether the program is geared to service LGBTQ populations. If the program is serving a specific group, those attending might want to verify exactly how the process works—like if it is a program for women, does that mean that all the staff will be women as well?

It can be helpful to write out a list of questions beforehand, possibly over a period of days while the upcoming resident and their family ponder the treatment program. When they feel like they have a comprehensive list of questions, they can contact the program to get the answers they seek.

3. Make sure the person attending treatment asks questions, especially if they’re adolescent

Often, the one who is attending a residential eating disorder treatment program is being helped by loved ones to find their ideal center and prepare for recovery. Because eating disorders strike early, it’s not unusual for the upcoming resident to be a teenager or young adult patient. In these situations, it’s important for his or her voice to be heard above all others.

Whoever is going to be attending the program should have the opportunity to ask all the questions that they want to ask, preferably directly to the treatment center staff. They should be encouraged to create their own list of questions that they can then ask the treatment center staff. By ensuring that the one who is attending the program gets the information they want and need, the family can ease the transition to the residential facility.

By encouraging the upcoming resident to speak with the staff they will be interacting with later, the family can help the individual feel more comfortable with those that will treat them. Questions and conversation can be a wonderful ice breaker for the upcoming stay.

More on Eating Disorders…


Eating problems come in a variety of forms. Some people may suffer from several eating disorders. Types consist of:

Anorexia nervosa: People with anorexia nervosa severely reduce their calorie intake and sometimes even starve themselves. Any size body can develop anorexia. It is characterized by an obsession with weight loss and an unwillingness to consume the recommended quantities of food for your body type and level of exercise.

woman holding a spoonful of cereal

Bulimia nervosa: Those who have this disorder binge or overeat, or believe they did, in a short period of time. After that, they could force themselves to get rid of the calories in some other way, including by vomiting, using laxatives, or engaging in excessive exercise.

Binge eating disorder (BED): Those who suffer from this condition engage in compulsive eating habits. They consume a lot of food in a short length of time, or they think they have. However, they don’t expel food or burn off calories through activity after bingeing. Instead, they experience uncomfortable satiety and could battle despair, regret, or guilt.

woman eating burger


Eating disorder is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and social factors. When they feel that other elements of their lives are difficult to manage, some persons with eating disorders may resort to drastic methods to restrict their food intake or food groupings. Obsession with eating develops into an undesirable coping mechanism for difficult sentiments or emotions. Therefore, rather than being about food, eating disorders are more about finding appropriate ways to manage your emotions.


It’s not always possible to identify if someone has an eating issue based only on looks. An eating problem may affect anybody, regardless of height or weight. Eating disorders frequently have an effect on how people feel or connect to food, which is unrelated to their size or weight.

Different eating disorders have different specific symptoms. Given that eating disorders sometimes imitate diets, they can be challenging to identify. Or, someone who is battling an eating problem can be reluctant to discuss their eating issues. You could notice any of these general changes if you or a loved one has an eating disorder:

  • Mood swings.
  • Fatigue, fainting or dizziness.
  • Thinning hair or hair loss.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks after eating.
  • Unexplained weight changes or drastic weight loss.
  • Unusual sweating or hot flashes.

Other changes could include:

  • Solo dining or not wanting to eat with other people.
  • Withdrawing from friends or social activities.
  • Hiding food or throwing it away.
  • Fixation on food, calories, exercise or weight loss.
  • Food rituals (chewing food longer than necessary, eating in secret).


woman eating noodles in a bathtub

When all eating disorders are included, they can affect up to 5% of people and are most common in adolescence and early adulthood. A few, particularly bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, are more prevalent in women, although they may all happen to anybody at any age. Eating disorders are frequently linked to obsessions with food, weight, or form as well as anxiety related to eating or the results of consuming particular foods. dietary restrictions or avoiding particular foods, binge eating, purging by vomiting or abusing laxatives, or obsessive exercise are all behaviors linked to eating disorders. These actions may become compelled in ways that resemble addiction.

As a severe issue, eating disorders may harm both your physical and emotional health. Don’t be ashamed to ask for treatment if you believe you have an eating issue. Millions of Americans battle eating disorders on a daily basis. You can get healthier with the right medical attention and mental health treatment. Untreated eating disorders can impair your physical health over time and even pose a threat to your life. Speak with your healthcare practitioner to start safeguarding your well-being.

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