Information and Resources

Looking for eating disorder information for yourself or a loved one in the Washington, DC metro area???

You’ve found the right place!

On this page, you will find:

  • Statistics
  • Signs and Symptoms to look for in a loved one
  • How to talk to your child about an eating disorder
  • Treatment information

Statistics About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

They are serious, biologically based illnesses that impact every organ system in the body, sometimes leading to irreversible physical health problems.

Eating disorders are not a choice or a fad.

Eating disorders are complex psychiatric conditions requiring specialized treatment.

Eating disorders affect males and females of all racial and ethnic groups, all shapes and sizes, and all ages.

Recovery is possible. Get help.

Worried about a loved one?
Here are some signs and symptoms to look for, if you think you’re loved one might be struggling with an eating disorder:

(NOTE: change in weight may occur, but is not always an indicator of an eating disorder. Individuals can appear healthy, and be engaging in very dangerous behaviors.)

  • hiding food
  • food disappearing or hidden empty wrappers
  • avoiding eating or lying about having “already eaten” or not feeling hungry
  • isolating themselves
  • making negative comments about body or weight
  • wearing baggy clothes
  • suddenly avoiding certain types of food or food groups
  • frequent trips to the bathroom
  • developing food rituals like cutting food into little pieces or eating foods in a certain order
  • developing rigid rules around exercise

If you notice any of these behaviors, it is important to act–early intervention is very important to successful treatment.

How to Communicate with Your Child About An Eating Disorder

  • Understand that eating disorder sufferers often deny that there is a problem.
  • Educate yourself on eating disorders
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Listen openly and reflectively
  • Be patient and nonjudgmental
  • Talk with your child in a kind way when you are calm and not angry, frustrated, or upset
  • Let him/her know you only want the best for him/ her
  • Remind your child that he/she has people who care and support him/her
  • Be flexible and open with your support
  • Be honest
  • Show care, concern, and understanding
  • Ask how he/she is feeling
  • Try to be a good role model- don’t engage in ‘fat talk’ about yourself
  • Understand that your child is not looking for attention or pity
  • Seek professional help on behalf of your child if you have ANY concerns

Taking Steps To Getting Help

For a list of DC area eating disorder treatment providers, visit our members page.

Two very importance things to know about seeking eating disorder treatment:

1) Early intervention is crucial for good treatment outcomes—the earlier you get help, the better!
2) Treatment should be conducted by someone who specializes in eating disorders.  Eating disorders are immensely complicated, and really require expertise.

Getting help for yourself or a loved one with an eating disorder can be overwhelming and involve difficult decisions around forming a treatment team and finding the right level of care. The right level of care will depend on a number of factors, including severity of symptoms, scheduling, location, and affordability.

There are many resources available in the Washington, DC area. Here are some key things to keep in mind when seeking treatment:

– “Level of Care” refers to tiers of treatment. Here are the common levels of care for eating disorders treatment, starting with the least intensive and ending with the most support:

Outpatient: Individuals (including psychotherapists, nutritionists, and psychiatrists, art therapists) who work in private practice. Most treatment professionals in private practice meet with clients 1-3 times a week, depending on severity of symptoms, and work.

Intensive Outpatient (IOP): Designed for individuals who need more structure than what can be provided on an outpatient basis, IOP usually consists of 3-5 hours per day, several days per week, at a clinic. Patients receive individual and group therapy, nutritional counseling, and support during meals.

Day Treatment/Partial Hospitalization: Day treatment or partial hospitalization provides additional structure by providing support and care all day. Patients return home at night. They receive individual and group psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and often psychopharmacological interventions, as needed.

Residential Treatment Center: Residential treatment provides 24 hour support, structure, and monitoring in a safe, home-like environment.  Patients receive individual and group psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and often psychopharmacological interventions, as needed. Residential stays tend to be 3-6 months, or longer.

Inpatient Hospitalization: Inpatient hospitalization typically is considered a short-term solution to stabilize patients who are medically at risk.  Patients spend 24 hours a day in a secure, safe hospital environment with support and supervision. They receive individual and group psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and psychopharmacological interventions, as needed.

How do you know what level of care is right for you or your loved one? Call an outpatient provider (see members page) and ask for a recommendation for level of care. The outpatient provider will ask you a few questions in order to help you take the right steps to getting help. She will want to assess motivation for recovery, presenting symptoms, presence of co-morbid medical/psychiatric disorders, age of client, and any other factors that aid in making this thoughtful decision.

– Payment and Insurance: While most individual treatment providers in private practice are not in-network with insurances, many insurances reimburse for treatment services. Talk to your treatment team about helping you get reimbursed for treatment, or find affordable options for treatment in the DC Metro area.


Virginia Department of Education handout for parents

National Eating Disorders Association,