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Eating Disorder Treatment Center Scottsdale Arizona

Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Scottsdale, AZ

There is often the misconception that eating disorders are only experienced by teenage girls that are afraid of “becoming fat” or that have a negative body image. However, eating disorders affect men and women of all ages, and people from all backgrounds and cultures.

Studies show that eating disorder issues have continued to increase over the last twenty to thirty years. It is estimated that 20 million women and 10 million men will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their life.

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is a serious mental condition that develops from a combination of psychological, biological, interpersonal and cultural influences, which result in an abnormal focus on food, weight and the body that interferes with one’s ability to function in life. Eating disorders affect one’s health, development, social interactions and psychological well being. Chronic and unaddressed eating disorders can sometimes lead to death. An eating disorder isn’t a fad diet or a diet that has carried on too long, nor is it a lifestyle choice.

Cause of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex and the initial developments of an eating disorder are influenced by a plethora of factors and vary from individual to individual. Such factors can include media and cultural influences, low self-esteem, abuse and neglect, bullying, loss, temperament, puberty, family issues, lack of emotion regulation, a genetic pre-disposition, sports and activities that place an emphasis on performance and the body.

An exact cause has not been determined but a general consensus among professionals agree that a combination of factors, such as psychological, biological, and environmental factors, all contribute to an individual developing an eating disorder.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are many different types of eating disorders. Due to symptoms varying from individual to individual, some individuals may be suffering from unique eating disorder symptoms. Here is a list of the most common types of eating disorders:

Bulimia Nervosa

People who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa will regularly engage in binge eating that will often happen discreetly and is quickly followed by periods of compensatory behaviors, such as purging, laxatives, and exercise. There is a lack of control when eating and poor body image.  A typical binge will involve eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat under the same circumstances in a short period of time (up to 2 hours).

Bulimia Nervosa can involve purging and non-purging behaviors. Purging involves the process of engaging in compensatory behaviors to make up for binge eating by excessive laxative, diuretic and enema use and self-induced vomiting. Non-purging involves periods of either intense fasting or dieting and/or extreme exercising. Click for more information about Bulimia treatment.

Anorexia Nervosa

Someone suffering from Anorexia Nervosa will often have an obsessive and irrational fear of gaining weight, refuse to maintain a healthy body mass index and display a distorted view of body image. Even though visibility underweight, someone suffering from anorexia will view themselves as overweight, even obese.

Sufferers of anorexia will limit the amount and type of food they consume at a time and during the day. This could result in forms of restricting by eating less, skipping meals or going without food for days.  This could also result in purging behaviors such as vomiting, laxatives, and compulsive exercise.  Due to severe restriction, there may be times when binge eating occur. Click for more information about Anorexia treatment.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is recurrent episodes of binge eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat under the same circumstances in a short period of time (up to 2 hours) at least once a week. Binge eating consists of eating rapidly, eating past feeling full or when not hungry and eating in secret. There is a lack of control when eating and feelings of guilt and disgust afterward.  BED is different from Bulimia in that sufferers do not engage in any form of purging or compensatory behaviors after a period of excessive eating.

Sufferers often feel intense distress and guilt about their eating habits. The feeling of embarrassment could often be a trigger to another period of binge eating and a progression of the illness. Click for more information about Binge Eating Disorder treatment.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination Disorder is when food is regurgitated. This can be re-chewed, re-swallowed or spit out. This occurs for at least a month and the behavior is very subtle that it often goes unnoticed. The individual also doesn’t appear to exhibit any distress while doing so.


Pica is an eating disorder that involves the eating of non food items. These items can include, hair, dirt, paint, gum, soap, paper, string, ice. This behavior occurs for at least a month and are developmentally inappropriate for one’s age. It is recommended to test for anemia, intestinal blockages and toxic side of effects of substances eaten.

Other Related Eating Disorder Issues

The following are not formally recognized in the DSM, but they can affect and impair an individual’s life. At times, these behaviors can lead into an eating disorder.


Orthorexia is an obsession with clean or healthy eating. The focus is on ingredients of food, eating a narrow range of food due to cutting out certain foods such as sugar, carbs, dairy and meat, fears if their safe or healthy foods aren’t available and consumed with thoughts of food.

Exercise Compulsion

Exercise is at most times viewed as a positive element of a healthy lifestyle. However, compulsive exercise is often a symptom of something much deeper going on. Signs of compulsive exercise include guilt when can’t exercise or take a day off, exercise when fatigued, sick or injured, focus on burning off calories, gives one permission to eat, a rigid schedule where life is scheduled around exercise, withdrawal from social activities and relationships.

Symptoms of Eating Disorder

People suffering from an eating disorder can display numerous symptoms. Signs and symptoms of eating disorders can range from one or many of the following:

  • Serious and constant weight changes and severe fluctuations in body weight
  • Structured and ritualistic eating such as eating alone, cutting food into small pieces or hiding (hoarding) food
  • A constant state of depression or lethargy
  • Changing from fasting to overeating over a period of time
  • Antisocial behavior such as isolating themselves and avoiding all social functions with friends and family
  • A constant fixation with cooking, food, and recipes but never partaking in the meals prepared
  • Will obsessively count calories and fat content of all foods
  • Constantly on a diet even though visibly underweight
  • Throwing up food
  • Spitting and chewing
  • Excessive working out
  • Denial of hunger, refusal to eat and making excuses to avoid meals
  • Distorted body image
  • Eating slow or fast
  • Headaches, dehydration, lack of concentration, constipation, dental problems, hair loss, stress fractures or injuries
  • Mood swings, excessive guilt and shame
  • Lying, stealing
  • Pleasing and controlling behaviors

Eating Disorder Therapy Techniques

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is highly effective in treating a number of mental health disorders, including eating disorders. CBT is an integration of two originally separate theoretical approaches to understand and treat psychological disorders; the behavioral approach, and the cognitive approach. Each client will learn cognitive strategies in addition to exposure therapy, and the importance of Mindfulness-Based Awareness Training (MBAT) and how to apply it daily. Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention: Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a form of behavioral therapy that provides an effective treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders. Exposures are conducted in order to ensure generalization of treatment gains. With exposure therapy, those suffering from eating disorders will be able to “habituate” to the fearful trigger, which results in decreased anxiety and increased mental health and happiness. Types of Exposures:
  • In-Vivo or Live Exposures– These are real-life experiences that provide the sufferer with a live experience of confronting that which they fear. Through clinical support and coaching from the therapists, clients are able to engage in a fear or situation while learning the skills and tools to overcome the trigger.
  • Imaginary Exposures– These exposures are done through writing and reading techniques. This is usually used when In-Vivo exposures cannot be performed.
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is an empirically based psychological therapy technique that uses acceptance and mindfulness, combined with commitment and behavioral changes, to increase psychological flexibility. Through this flexibility, clients are able to come into contact with fears, anxiety, physical sensations, and memories and gain the skills to re-contextualize and accept what has transpired, which allows them to make necessary changes in their lives.
  • Psychoeducation: Education about eating disorders is one of the most important components of the initial phase of treatment. When clients and their families have a clear understanding of how eating disorders affect the brain and how it manifests itself, they are better prepared to face the challenges eating disorders present. The Gateway Institute provides critical education to help minimize unintended reinforcement, and firmly establishes tools that can help facilitate the healing process in a productive manner.
  • Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy: Using the advances made in the treatment of eating disorders over the past 10 years, The Gateway Institute incorporates the most current techniques in its treatment programs. Some of these advanced treatments include Mindfulness Based Behavioral Therapy (MBBT). In our practice, we have discovered that a comprehensive treatment strategy that we refer to as Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy improves treatment response. In MBBT we incorporate informal mindfulness training along with exposure and response prevention (ERP) and a writing intervention with both behavioral and mindfulness components that contribute to treatment effectiveness.
  • Behavioral Therapy Combined With Medication: Though behavioral therapy may be the most effective treatment in terms of long-term management of an eating disorder, research indicates that combining both CBT and medication may be beneficial for overall success. Medications considered for the treatment of eating disorders are usually antidepressants know as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which are often effective without severe side effects. The Gateway Institute works with skilled and experienced psychiatrists to find the right combination of medication to effectively treat eating disorders when necessary.
  • Coordinated Dietician Care: Gateway clinicians will support clients with coordinating care with their dietician to help provide the

Types of Eating Disorder Treatment

  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adults: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program for adults utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of eating disorders. After a thorough assessment of each client, a treatment plan is designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. This plan is implemented over 3 weeks and includes 45 hours of individualized treatment.
  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adolescents: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of adolescent eating disorders.
  • 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Children: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week eating disorder treatment program utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of child eating disorders.
  • Weekly Program: For clients whose symptoms do not require the Intensive Treatment Program, The Gateway Institute offers eating disorder treatment programs with weekly sessions or multiple sessions each week, depending on need.
  • Bi or Tri-Weekly Program: for those not able to do the intensive but need more support than just weekly sessions, an option would include 2-3 weekly sessions.
  • Customized Treatment Program: These options include a 3-week eating disorder intensive therapy program, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly options.

Eating Disorder Treatment Programs

Due to the complexity of eating disorders, a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and a multi-faceted regime is needed to set the patient on the road to healing and recovery.

Treatment plans often involve addressing the underlying influences and function of the eating disorder as well as developing support, facing fears and developing a relapse prevention plan. Also, to assist the person in facing the road to recovering their health and well-being, treatments are often individualized and tailored to meet the unique needs of every patient.
A multi-disciplinary team of professionals that are used to address eating disorders is usually made up of a therapist, dietitian, medical doctor and psychiatric provider. The team works together in providing education, support, and recommendations that best support the individual in their recovery journey. A regime of complete care will include the following:

  • Therapy – the patient will undergo various forms of psychotherapy, such as group, family and individual therapy. Therapy is vital to addressing the underlying causes of the eating disorder, developing a roadmap for recovery and a fundamental element of treatment. The various therapies will also include better-coping skills to help with emotional regulation, developing healthy relationships, food exposures and building a relationship with food and their bodies.
  • Dietitian – a dietitian will ensure that the patient’s weight stabilizes and work towards restoring and maintaining a healthy weight and BMI. The work will also include a guide to forming normal and intuitive eating habits and develop a personalized meal plan.
  • Medications – some medications may be prescribed to help with mood regulation and body image distortion to assist the patient with getting the most out of their treatment.
  • Monitoring and Medical Care – medical monitoring is important to provide education and aid in the resolution of medical concerns that were consequences of the eating disorder.

Treatment options vary from outpatient support groups to inpatient hospitalization based on the severity and needs of the individual. The first step to treatment is awareness and the willingness to get help.

Eating Disorder Treatment — More Information

For more information on these eating conditions, click below.

It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from an eating disorder to also be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Treating co-occurring conditions simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from anxiety. Common anxiety disorders that are often associated with eating disorders are listed below.

The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.