Alternative Treatments for Eating Disorders

Alternative Treatments for Eating Disorders

Overview of alternative treatments for eating disorders

So many factors determine the treatment that should be applied to the various eating disorders. Whatever prescription the doctor gives depends mainly on the patient’s current situation and the particular eating disorder they are experiencing. How committed the patient is to getting well, and his or her personal history plays an important role in the recovery process.

In many cases, the physician will recommend a number of treatments including group counseling and medications. Some people also find solace in alternative treatments as a helpful boost to more additional therapies recommended by their physician.

Many patients suffering from eating disorders find these treatments helpful in improving their condition.

This article will explore and X-ray the alternative therapies used by patients in their journey to recovery from eating disorders.

What alternative treatments are effective in the treatment of eating disorders?

Before adopting any alternative treatment, it is of utmost importance that you consult your physician first. Your physician will conduct a physical examination that will help him assess the risks and benefits tied to that particular medication. They may also monitor your alternative treatments to point out potential problems and side effects.

The role of body awareness therapy

A particular study has identified body awareness therapy to be a very vital tool for the treatment of eating disorders. Body awareness therapy is a program that lays emphasis on awareness of quality movement. After undergoing treatment, people suffering from bulimia, anorexia, and other eating disorders noticed a reduction in self-awareness and body awareness. Some of the treatments outlined below also help with body awareness.

The role of yoga

Yoga helps in the reduction of stress levels and also enhances clearer thinking. Exercise done in yoga is of low impact and allows people to get in tune with their bodies. A particular study showed that women witnessed significant changes in:

  • Their sense of well-being and positive feelings
  • Reduced self-objectification
  • A reduction in poor eating habits
  • More positive body image

The aim of the study was to compare eating habits in women who did yoga and those who did not partake in the exercise.

The role of acupuncture

Acupuncture is credited to the Chinese. It is a form of traditional Chinese medicine. In this technique, the acupuncturist inserts sterile and fine needles into certain points in the body. The aim of this is to boost health. Studies have shown that combining conventional treatments for eating disorders with several sessions of acupuncture can cause a significant improvement in:

  • Physical health
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Social support and sense of control
  • Mental health

Many people prefer acupuncture because it is one treatment that has no need for drugs.

The role of relaxation therapy

Having a massage can help improve your own outlook on life and accelerate your recovery rate. Massage boosts the level of dopamine and serotonin. It also reduces the level of stress, anxiety and, depression.

In a particular study, women suffering from anorexia nervosa were treated to massage therapy twice weekly for five weeks. At the end of the session, they had:

  • Reduced stress hormones
  • Reduction in body dissatisfaction
  • An increase in the level of norepinephrine and dopamine

Similar benefits may also be derived from other relaxation therapies such as meditation or aromatherapy. A particular study X-rayed the benefits of mindfulness meditation. It was discovered that this therapy:

  • Reduces binge and emotional eating
  • Boosts self-acceptance
  • Relieves addiction, anxiety and pain management
  • Improves one’s awareness of body hunger cues

Data gotten from this practice is not consistent. The reason for this is that weight loss is dependent on many other factors.


Positive outcomes manifest in people who have access to the scientific and clinical evidence of their efforts.

In a certain pilot study, people suffering from different eating disorders found heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback useful.

Results of HRV  
Anxiety strongly decreased 47 percent
Anxiety somewhat decreased 35 percent
Neutral 17 percent

According to a review by Timothy Legg, the HRV biofeedback encourages slow meditative breathing by displaying your heart rate as a wave on a digital display. There may be a need for more evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of biofeedback.

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits to help you reach your goal

Knowing how to maintain good overall health is an important aspect of recovering from an eating disorder. Adopting healthy lifestyle choices and habits helps in the effective management of an eating disorder. Among such steps are:

  • Religiously following your plan of treatment
  • Practicing self-care habits such as sleep, regular exercise and intake of healthy meals
  • Taking out time to read self-help books
  • Engaging in social activities with family and friends
  • Taking your attention off the mirror and the scale.

Finding support

Use the services of professionals

A therapist, a medical doctor, or any other professional can assist you to draw up a new routine. You may also be referred to community services and resources for support and vital information.

If you have difficulty locating the right dietitian, then you may look at some online resources. A number of them are good and can help you create a healthy meal plan. One of these websites is Ask the Dietitian, authored by Joanne Larsen, a registered dietitian.

Connect with others

Establishing a relationship with other persons facing similar problems can help you or someone you know to remain motivated. You may also have a place to turn to when you are bothered with questions about the treatment or condition.

Many people are inspired by social media outlets. It allows them to keep a record of their experiences so as to evaluate themselves. Visiting the right online forums can also help. It allows you to connect with people that are facing similar challenges and get insights on how to conquer them.

Use media education to build your own support

People often draw up a wrong conclusion about media messages when they do not have the right tools to analyze these messages (especially the ones on social media). A particular study found that women who uploaded fitspiration photos on social media such as Instagram had a higher score for:

  • Compulsive exercise
  • Thinness
  • Bulimia
  • Risk of clinical eating disorder

People suffering from eating disorders need to educate themselves on the pervasive roles played by social media in reinforcing perfect body images. Becoming media literate is a step to understanding this phenomenon. It is at this point that you learn how to think properly about the images you view and understand that they are not necessarily realistic.

One review found that information-based, cognitive-behavioral, and psycho-educational therapies were least effective for improving body image and eating problems in college students.

However, the same review hinted that media literacy can counter those findings. It added that practices to reduce the risk of eating disorders including health education activities are crucial to helping college students develop body-positive images and healthy eating habits. You can visit Media Smarts for a series of key questions that’ll help you look at media with a critical eye.


When it comes to the treatment of eating disorders, no alternative treatment can be compared to traditional treatments. However, alternative therapies may be helpful to some people. Body awareness therapy as a form of alternative therapy can improve a person’s sense of self-esteem. Massage and yoga can also reduce the level of anxiety, stress and, depression.

Sharing your treatment regimen with your loved ones can also help accelerate recovery. Social support plays a big role in recovery. Ensure you consult your physician before adopting a new therapy. This will help you X-ray the potential benefits and of course, the side effects.

Recent posts

How to Handle Holiday Eating

How to Handle Holiday Eating

Holidays are fun. We have our family, friends, great memories, and great food all around us. But are they compatible with…