Disordered Eating Treatment

Eating Disorder Treatment for Women in Tennessee

The high prevalence of drug and substance abuse in women with disordered eating is no coincidence. Medical research suggests that a number of substances, including food, can impair decision-making and self-control, which are the foundation stones of addiction.In addition, many women who demonstrate symptoms of disordered eating also show signs of substance abuse. You can get help for these co-occurring disorders at the same time, but finding a rehabilitation center whose clinicians have the training and experience to supply addiction and disordered eating treatment is essential.

JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program is an addiction and eating disorder treatment facility in Tennessee that specializes in the holistic care of women. If you or someone you care about uses drugs or alcohol and shows signs of an eating disorder, we can help.

How to Know if Your Loved One Is Addicted

Eating disorders and addiction are two of the deadliest mental health disorders in existence, and the effects of each negatively influence the other, making both conditions worse. That’s why getting treatment for both at the same time is absolutely essential.

You may believe that the signs of addiction are obvious, but not everyone with an abuse disorder is homeless or broke. It can be hard to know if the person you care about is addicted to drugs or alcohol because the earliest signs of addiction strongly resemble nearly normal behavior. It can also be difficult to accept that your loved one is addicted, especially if she denies that drinking or drug use is a problem. Keep in mind that like eating disorders, denial is the most common trait in those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

If you’re not sure whether your loved one has a drug or alcohol problem, these signs may help you figure out if addiction treatment is necessary:

  • Your loved one lies about using or hides evidence such as bottles or drug paraphernalia
  • Your loved one’s physical health, psychological wellness and overall mood are clearly deteriorating
  • Your loved one doesn’t participate in the same activities or hang out with the same group of friends
  • Your loved one’s performance at work or school is suffering
  • Your loved one ignores responsibilities
  • Your loved one’s reputation is suffering because of legal problems or failed relationships
  • Your loved one spends more time and money on drugs and alcohol than ever before
  • Your loved one suffers withdrawal symptoms when she can’t drink or use drugs

Do any of these signs seem familiar? If so, then JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program can help.

Addiction and Eating Disorder Treatment in Tennessee

At JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program, we understand the clinical and biological traits of disordered eating. While it’s relatively easy to diagnose full-blown eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa, it’s more difficult to pinpoint the subtle forms of disordered eating that we all experience. We live in a culture obsessed with size, weight, exercise and diet. The pervasiveness of disordered eating affects everyone.

Since nearly 50 percent of individuals with an eating disorder abuse drugs and alcohol at a rate five times greater than the general population, it’s critical to treat the co-occurring disorders. Disordered eating and substance abuse are independently correlated and can result in cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, AIDS and even death.

JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program is a leading drug rehab treatment for women in Murfreesboro, TN that provides treatment for a dual diagnosis such as disordered eating and addiction.

Women suffering from an eating disorder and an addiction generally share similar characteristics, such as clinical depression, low self-esteem, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, guilt and fear of gaining weight. With our professional and insightful understanding of the difficulty in treating co-occurring eating disorders and addiction, our eating disorder and substance abuse treatment offers client-oriented, empathetic care for women suffering deep-seated psychological problems.

At JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program, we will help your loved one understand the clinical and biological aspects surrounding the dual diagnosis of an eating disorder compounded by an addiction. Additionally, our trauma specialists will also help them learn how to cope with the emotional and psychological effects of any past trauma they may have experienced to ensure an enduring recovery and a long, sober life.

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Types of Eating Disorders and Treatment Options in Tennessee

Eating disorders, similar to substance abuse, are influenced by genetic, psychological, environmental and biological factors. Like mental illnesses, eating disorders are complicated to understand and diagnose. Part of the problem is that they are not easy to see coming. Everyone has to eat to stay alive, but there are many different views of this life-sustaining activity. Information about nutrition, cultural customs and social conventions around food activities vary greatly.

While eating behaviors are part of everyone’s daily routine, people are not always aware of what affects those behaviors. Eating is part of a pleasure-seeking activity for some, and it’s a highly intellectual pursuit for others.


You may have heard the expression: Some people live to eat, and others eat to live. Everyone falls somewhere along this spectrum. Ultimately, all behaviors are influenced by emotion, stress, social factors and experience.

Avoiding eating disorders is not as simple as avoiding food. Abstinence is not an option here as it is with addiction or addiction recovery. Eating disorders can sneak up on people when they think they are just performing a necessary function. Understanding the connection between eating behaviors and emotional factors can help identify a potential eating disorder before it has a chance to take hold.

Types of Eating Disorders

Education is the first step in dealing with any eating disorder. There are a number of behavioral disorders related to food, but only a few of them are well-known.


Most people are familiar with anorexia, the eating disorder that causes you to starve yourself. Many celebrities have struggled with or have died from anorexia including Karen Carpenter, the musician whose story was made into a movie several years ago. Tabloid versions of celebrity anorexia stories are published frequently including sensationalized photos of these beautiful people with sunken eyes and protruding ribs.

Anorexia is much more complicated than the latest cover story, however, and it accounts for more deaths than any other mental illness. The exact cause of this disorder can be difficult to pinpoint since each case is different. The common threads include:

  • Societal pressures
  • Puberty
  • Dieting
  • Peer pressure
  • Traumatic events
  • Personal tragedy
  • Genetics

Most cases of anorexia revolve around perfection issues, addiction and control issues. It is really not about the food. People suffering from anorexia are generally trying to escape some emotional pain by gaining control over themselves and their lives. They may develop a fear of not meeting the societal standard of thinness, and they often demonstrate their strength by withholding food from themselves.

Anorexia may start as a reaction to body image, but then it goes much further. If you suspect a friend or family members is suffering from anorexia, some behaviors to look out for include:

  • Lack of emotion
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Refusal to eat
  • Lying about eating
  • Denial of hunger
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Suicidal thoughts

Lack of nutrition and low body weight create serious health challenges. Teenagers, for example — an age group most affected by anorexia — are still growing and developing. These conditions can have devastating and permanent consequences. The physical effects of anorexia are serious and can be fatal. You may also notice these physical symptoms of someone struggling with anorexia:

  • Insomnia
  • Thinning hair
  • Constipation
  • Severe dry skin
  • Low blood count
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Fainting
  • Discoloration of fingers
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat

By the time someone has developed anorexia, they are powerless to change their eating behavior on their own. Anorexia can be treated, but professional counseling is required.


This eating disorder is often difficult to detect because it is not necessarily accompanied by severe weight loss. Similar to anorexia, bulimia revolves around a negative body image or low self-esteem, but sufferers usually maintain average body weight. They tend to binge and purge — eating large quantities of food and then vomiting or using laxatives to quickly expel what they have consumed.


Despite maintaining normal body weight, bulimia can have serious health consequences. The binge-purge cycle is extremely disruptive to natural body chemistry, especially in the digestive system. Negative health outcomes can include:

  • Chronic constipation or bowel irregularity
  • Gastric rupture
  • Tooth decay
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Tooth staining
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Irregular heart beat

The longer these conditions continue, the more damage is done. Eventually, the damage becomes permanent and affects vital organs. Bulimia can also be fatal.

The risk of death from suicide with bulimia is higher than when the condition is not present. About 80% of the people who suffer from bulimia are female. This disorder affects approximately 2% of the teenage population, and bulimia often co-occurs with depression.

Anorexia and bulimia are probably the two most recognized eating disorders, but they are not the only ones. Any eating behavior that causes distress can be considered a disorder. Here are some of the less common eating disorders:

Emotional Eating

If you’ve ever eaten a tub of ice cream or a whole package of cookies after a long, stressful day, then you’ve engaged in emotional eating, a behavioral disorder triggered by depression, stress and anxiety. For people clinically diagnosed with an emotional eating disorder, they not only make poor food choices, but they regularly reach for “comfort” food — or food that has high sugar and fat content — when confronted by upsetting or unexpected events.

However, emotional eating is more than just an unhealthy reaction to negative circumstances. Based on the inability to have learned how to cope with undesirable events, emotional eating represents an opportunity for a person to regain control of a situation by withdrawing into the solace food provides.

At our eating disorder rehab, treatment for emotional eating is based on addressing and resolving long-buried emotional issues that trigger such negative emotional responses. From experiential therapy to counseling, we can help women find positive ways to cope with psychological problems underlying an emotional eating disorder. With our organic, whole foods menu, we place the focus on nutrition and finding healthy ways to enjoy food.


Simply stated, orthorexia is an obsession with healthy eating and often extends to other good health practices. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like this would be a problem. A desire to improve your health through better food and stricter eating habits is probably a goal of many people. Sometimes, however, this desire gets out of control.

The manifestations of orthorexia are not necessarily physical. Following extreme eating guidelines has been shown to relieve a lot of chronic illnesses and cut down on the need for pharmaceutical intervention. The problem happens when these eating practices take over your life, similar to addiction. The symptoms of orthorexia include:

  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety

Well-meaning people who are trying to protect their health and improve their lives can develop orthorexia without realizing it. It can sneak up on them as they become more involved in their dietary issues and tighten their own eating restrictions. A loved one experiencing orthorexia may exhibit such signs as:

  • Thinking about healthy food for more than three hours a day.
  • Constantly planning your entire menu at least a day in advance.
  • Feeling a sense of virtue about what you eat rather than experiencing pleasure in eating it.
  • Noticing a decreasing quality of life as quality of diet increases.
  • Increasing strictness with yourself.
  • Experiencing an increase in self-esteem from healthy eating.
  • Refusing foods you used to enjoy.
  • Becoming condescending to people who do not eat the way you do.
  • Eating out less frequently because it is too hard to follow your eating regimen.
  • Feeling guilty when you “cheat” on your diet.
  • Experiencing a sense of total control when you follow your diet.

If two or more of these signs apply to you, you could be developing orthorexia. The more signs that are present, the more likely it is you have a problem. Orthorexia requires a professional diagnosis and treatment. You will not be required to abandon your healthy diet, but through behavioral therapy, a better balance between your mental and physical health can be achieved.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

Developmental delays, short stature, decreased muscle tone and emotional difficulties are all symptoms of Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). In this very rare genetic condition, these severe symptoms are accompanied by an insatiable appetite that often leads to morbid obesity.

Only one of about every 15,000 people have PWS, but it is one of the most common diseases treated in genetic clinics and is one the most common genetic causes of obesity. Most people with PWS are born with it, but it is possible to develop PWS as a result of certain brain injuries as well.

Although PWS is not common, the eating disorder portion of this condition can help develop a greater understanding for eating disorders in general and how the brain handles hunger. The genetic flaw in PWS patients is in the hypothalamus which is where feelings of hunger and fullness are processed. In PWS, there is a constant feeling of hunger which cannot be satisfied, leading to extreme overeating and weight gain.

How the brain processes hunger has not yet been fully understood. People with PWS do not benefit from any known appetite suppressants. They also tend to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorders that are not related to food. Some aspects of PWS could help medical professionals develop a better understanding of eating disorders in general.

Night Eating Syndrome


This eating disorder is associated with poor mood regulation and sleep patterns. It involves not waking up hungry in the morning but instead overeating throughout the night. This type of eating pattern results in agitation and insomnia. Recent studies have shown that this behavior results in hormonal changes that represent serious health challenges.

Night time levels of melatonin are greatly decreased in nocturnal eaters while their levels of leptin, which should increase at night, remain steady. Cortisol is also elevated throughout the day in people who eat at night instead of during the day. The results of these changes are poor quality of sleep with disturbances throughout the night and little or no deep restorative sleep.

Nocturnal eating behaviors also contribute to weight gain. At least 10% of people seeking treatment for obesity have night eating disorder, which translates to around 10 million individuals. Non-obese people can also develop night eating disorder, but it is less likely. A direct relationship between this eating disorder and obesity has not been clearly established. In some cases, night eating syndrome develops into obesity. In other cases, the obesity comes first.

There are several symptoms of eating disorders like this one you could look for. If you think a friend or family member has night eating syndrome, consider the following questions:

  • Does your loved one eat more food after dinner than at dinner?
  • Does your loved one have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
  • Does your loved one get up during the night to eat?
  • Does your loved one eat a lot of carbohydrates, especially at night?
  • Does your loved one wake up stressed out about how much food they ate the night before?
  • Does your loved one wake up in the morning with no appetite?
  • Does your loved one experience guilt or anxiety while eating?
  • Does your loved one eat multiple times after dinner and before breakfast?
  • Does your loved one wait to eat breakfast until several hours after waking up?

If you answer affirmatively to several of these questions, and this behavior has continued for at least two months, you may have night eating syndrome. It is important to seek help for a professional diagnosis and treatment.


Pica is defined as the ingesting or mouthing of non-nutritive substances. Eating or putting things in your mouth that are not food is normal behavior for children under two and is fairly common among people with developmental delays. Beyond that, this behavior is considered abnormal and dangerous, and an underlying cause should be sought.

The items that people suffering from Pica commonly eat or try to eat vary greatly and can include:

  • Clay
  • Laundry starch
  • Dirt
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Ice
  • Sand
  • Coal
  • Stones
  • Plastic
  • Paper
  • Pebbles
  • Wood
  • Plaster
  • Hair
  • Chalk
  • Paint chips
  • Feces
  • Fingernails
  • Pencil erasers
  • Lead

The physical danger of ingesting some of these items is obvious. Pica can result in poisoning, infectious disease, ulcers, bowel perforations, constipation and other serious, life-threatening problems. The psychological causes of eating disorders like Pica are less obvious. It seems to be related to stress, nutritional deficiencies and brain chemical factors that are not fully understood.

Pica is probably under reported and diagnosed in the US. It is rare and most commonly seen in children and those with developmental delays. Pica is more common in adults outside of the US, especially in highly impoverished areas of the world. The treatment for Pica involves medical interventions as well as behavioral and psychological therapies.

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

Some people develop an eating disorder that does not strictly conform to the criteria of any specifically identified disorder. For instance, a person may have all the warning signs of eating disorders like anorexia but not symptoms like the loss of menses or not going below normal body weight — even if significant weight loss has occurred.

These people who almost have a diagnosable eating disorder fit into a separate category. Their behavior around food is not healthy and most likely indicates an underlying mental challenge like low self-esteem, depression, anger or emotional pain. They could remain at this level for a long time, or they might progress to a full-fledged case of anorexia or bulimia. EDNOS will not, however, resolve on its own. Treatment is required.


Rumination is a condition in which food is regurgitated and re-chewed, either to be swallowed again or spit out. However, the regurgitation of the food is not accompanied by retching, gagging or nausea. The action seems to be initiated by certain tongue movements and muscle contractions.

People who suffer from rumination do not report any sour or bitter taste. This behavior usually takes place within a few minutes of eating and can continue for a couple hours. It happens daily for months or even years.

Like other eating disorders, rumination has physical and psychological components. Some of the physical effects can include:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Choking
  • Dental issues
  • Bad breath
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Gastric disorders
  • Weight loss
  • Growth failure
  • Aspiration
  • Pneumonia
  • Death


The mortality rate for people with rumination is 5-10%. That rate increases to 12-50% among people who are institutionalized.

The psychological causes of rumination are not fully understood. It has been connected with abnormal mother-infant relationships, boredom, chronic family trauma and genetics. Rumination also tends to reinforce itself through pleasurable sensations. The positive feelings a person derives from ruminating reinforces the behavior, similar to an addiction.

Types of Treatment for Eating Disorders

All eating disorders have a physical and psychological component, and they need to be treated on both levels. It is important to recognize that eating disorders can be treated and overcome with the right support and commitment.

Since an eating disorder affects all aspects of life, treatment should be holistic. Behavioral therapy, family counseling and nutritional education are all important parts of recovering from an eating disorder. In addition, recovery needs to be monitored by a physician who can treat the physical effects of the disorder to help restore total health.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective modalities for eating disorders. This part of the treatment will focus on changing the dangerous eating and other associated behaviors that may be detrimental to good health. Individual counseling may reveal an underlying mental health illness that is a contributing factor to the eating disorder. Treating any underlying mental illnesses is crucial to the success of overcoming an eating disorder.

Group counseling is imperative for developing an appropriate support system during treatment for eating disorders. Members of the group are experiencing the same types of challenges and can learn from one another. Strategies for changing detrimental eating behaviors and developing new healthy eating habits are discussed. Most importantly, however, bonds are formed between people with similar viewpoints and a safe haven is created for sharing fears.


Since many eating behaviors are learned or inherited, family counseling is important to successful recovery. Family units often share eating habits and cultural backgrounds that affect their relationship with food. This connection is especially important for young people struggling with eating disorders because often their family is involved or even in control of their eating habits to a certain extent.

Get in Touch With JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program


The best way to avoid an eating disorder or to help a loved one get the treatment they need is to learn more about these challenges and how they can be treated. If your loved one also suffers from addiction, our experienced clinicians can treat both disorders at the same time.

Look into a treatment center for eating disorders, like JourneyPure Women’s Professional Program. We are a leading treatment center for women that provides dual diagnosis treatment for addiction and eating disorders.

Contact us today to learn more or for help staying on track with your recovery program.

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