Early Intervention: Eating Disorders


Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are eating behaviors which are extreme changes in eating. A person with an eating disorder may severely reduce or increase food intake or may have extreme concerns about body shape or weight. Eating Disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), or Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED).

Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia Nervosa:

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain, and a negative body image related to size, weight and shape. The person may feel that they look fat even though they are at a healthy body weight. The individual may be obsessed with restricting caloric intake. Behaviors may include self-induced vomiting, exercising compulsively or abuse of laxatives or diuretics, in order to remove water retention or digested food from the body quickly. With Bulimia a person may binge-eat (eating a large amount of food in a short period of time) and then purge (or use one of the behaviors mentioned above to eliminate the caloric intake).

Binge Eating:

Binge Eating is recurrent overeating when not hungry and often eating until extreme fullness. The binging episodes may be marked by distress and lack of control followed by feelings of shame, guilt and depression. It occurs on average once a week over three months. According to the Alliance for Eating Disorders half of the risk for developing Binge Eating Disorders is genetic.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders involves abnormal thoughts and behaviors related to food, eating or body image, but not to the full criteria for Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorders.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder:

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) symptoms include nutritional deficient weight loss and interference with psychosocial functioning due to nutrient restriction. Individuals may display a general lack of interest in eating or food, food avoidance based on sensory characteristics or concerns about adverse consequences of eating unrelated to body image or weight.

How may a caregiver gain support?

There are several organizations which may help provide support.

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing programs and activities aimed at outreach, education, early intervention, and advocacy for all eating disorders. What are Eating Disorders: Their comprehensive referral and help line provides free support and referrals. The Alliance also offers direct low cost lifesaving treatment to underinsured and uninsured adults in our community through Psychological Services. Local support groups can be found on their website. Click Here.

How may a parent/caregiver gain access to this service?

For the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness contact: 866-662-1235 or via email at: [email protected]; For their referral and helpline Click Here.

National Alliance on Mental Health of Palm Beach County:
Mollie Wilmot Center – Palm Healthcare Pavilion
5205 Greenwood Avenue. Suite 110,
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

Adolescent Teen Support Group: All genders and open to those who are 13-17 and in need of support. Pre-registration/intake required prior to attending. Please call: 561.841.0900 Facilitators: Lorraine Mari, PhD and Sharon Glynn, LPN Monday Afternoons 4:30-6:00pm

NAMI Palm Beach County
(561) 588-3477 (not a crisis line)
(561) 588-3499 (Fax)
Email: [email protected]

Crisis Lines
Jerome Golden: (561) 383-5777
South County: (561) 637-2102

NAMI’s National Information Helpline
(800) 950-NAMI (6264) or Email: [email protected] or Text: 741741

Connecting with others on the NAMI discussion groups can be a great way to manage recovery, find support and learn more about mental health conditions. For their website and to create an account Click Here to participate.

Recommended websites, videos, books on this topic:

Allianceforeatingdisorders.com: For the Alliance For Eating Disorders website: Click Here

Nami.org: Learn more about eating disorders on National Alliance on Mental Illness website:  Click Here

Nimh.gov: The National Institute of Mental Health website: Click Here

Questions or observations parents should consider before selecting a provider for eating disorders?

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness provides a webpage on questions to Ask for Outpatient Treatment and In Patient Treatment Programs specifically for those seeking treatment for eating disorders. For the website Click Here


National Institute of Mental Health. National Institutes of Health U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Eating Disorders: About More than Food

Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness Information on Eating Disorders.

National Alliance on Mental Health Eating Disorders Overview nami.org/Learn-