A Guide to Eating-Disordered Behavior


You may have found this page because you’ve noticed a change in the behavior of your teen or young adult. Perhaps you notice that your child is anxious, withdrawn, and/or showing signs of extreme perfectionism. These can all be factors that lead to your child engaging in eating disordered behaviors.

Eating disorders cover a wide range of behaviors including food restriction or extreme calorie-counting, binging and purging, extreme exercise, and other habits.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) lists the following common symptoms of an eating disorder:

* In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns

* Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting

* Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)

* Appears uncomfortable eating around others

* Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)

* Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals

* Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)

* Withdrawal from usual friends and activities

* Frequent dieting

* Extreme concern with body size and shape

* Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance

* Extreme mood swings

These habits and behaviors are actually coping skills, although negative ones, to manage one’s thoughts and emotions.

In group skills classes at Balance & Potential, I conduct classes geared toward processing emotions and experiences and practicing positive coping skills. We deal with what the negative behavior is covering up, in other words, what your teen is coping with. This may be extreme black-and-white thinking, emotional dysregulation, and what are typically the teen’s very high expectations of themselves.

Individual sessions are a requirement for classes. In individual sessions, we explore your teen’s judgments about themselves to better understand how those attitudes affect them. Individual sessions provide space to recognize what may be unconscious thoughts. From their perspective, your teen’s eating disorder stems from their desire to be a healthier, better version of themselves. We work to get to the root of that desire and redirect their energies into a balanced lifestyle and regulated emotions.

An eating disorder can be a very lonely disorder, and talking through these issues can help lessen isolation. Group classes teach positive coping skills that are consistent with scientifically-proven adherent-DBT practice. DBT therapy not only can stop the negative behaviors and thoughts, but crucially, can replace them with healthy coping skills. This therapy is not a band-aid to fix behaviors, but the building blocks of skills that your teen can use for the rest of their lives!


5755 North Point Parkway,
Suite 79

Alpharetta, GA 30022

(678) 644-0039

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