Adolescent Males & Binge Eating Disorder: Helping My Son

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Finding out your teenage son has binge eating disorder (BED) can be overwhelming. It is difficult to know where to start when you are processing that your child needs help.

There are several steps you can take to support your son, as well as organizations that
are available with resources and treatment.

How You Can Start the BED Treatment Process

When helping your child get treatment, the first step is to call a local facility or outpatient therapist to get an eating disorder assessment [1].

If this has already been done, and your son has been diagnosed with binge eating disorder, then a visit with his pediatrician or primary care physician is essential. This can help rule out any medical issues that may be the root of some of the complications that come with this disorder.

Getting your child into ongoing therapy, nutritional support, and psychiatric services can also help regulate mood, underlying mental health concerns, and get your child on a stable meal plan.

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Once the BED treatment process has begun, you can work on getting help as a family to learn how to best support your son, learn what eating disorders in males look and sound like within your child, and how the best resources for family of eating disorder sufferers.

The treatment becomes a priority for a while as you learn to navigate the treatment and recovery process. Eating disorders are truly disabling for teens and can feel like they are getting worse before getting better.

Getting Involved and Seeking Support

Getting involved in your child’s therapy and recovery process is essential for best treatment outcomes [1].

If you have decided that higher level of care is best for your child’s treatment, then attend the family therapy group options, family therapy sessions, family weekends, and engage your child by eating a meal at the facility with them to learn how eating disorder behaviors are managed. This will give you the skills you need to support the eating disorder sufferer once they return home.

Get treatment for yourself. Parents need a place where they can go to express fears, emotions, and grieve for their child. These are things that cannot necessarily be done in the beginning of treatment with your son. Having a safe place for you to gain knowledge and grow is extremely beneficial.

Educating Yourself on BED and Communication

Read. Read. Read. Check out any books at the library, read articles online, go to organization websites, like the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which is dedicated to education and knowledge for sufferers and their families.

Learn about eating disorders in males. Attend a peer support group, and talk with your child’s clinician for recommendations on educational workshops that you can attend. The more education you have, the better armed you are to manage your son’s symptoms.

Talk with your child about their treatment and their recovery. Set boundaries with them in your household on what the family will tolerate or not in terms of the eating disorder. Remember that your child is not an eating disorder, but your child has been taken hostage by an eating disorder. Your son is still in there, but talking and acting in the way their eating disorder would like them to.

Communicating your boundaries is helpful for all family members to be on the same page in terms of what is okay and not. It also allows the eating disorder to understand that as a family you will fight for your son, and not let the eating disorder ‘win.’

Reach out and offer support. Ask your child how you can help. Would they like you to take over their food prepping and serving in the beginning of treatment? Do they need help with relearning how to manage food in the house or at school? Do they need you to help them distract from urges by taking a walk, reading, or attending an art class?

Helping keep the lines of communication open and letting your son know you are there for them is significant in their recovery.

Additional Resources for Family of Eating Disorder Sufferers

There are various organizations available online with numerous resources and tools for parents and caregivers.

NEDA, mentioned above, works to provide education, knowledge, awareness and advocacy for sufferers and their loved ones. They hold annual conferences each year that are open to families [1].

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is another national organization that works to provide education and awareness to others about binge eating and weight stigma [2]. Their site lists resources for treatment, providers, and articles for those struggling with BED and their families.

In conclusion, being available for support, unconditional love, and treatment is essential in your child’s recovery process. It can be overwhelming and emotional for a parent to watch their child struggle, but if you are willing and able to get in the thick of it with them, the more connected and stronger you all will be. Treatment and help is available for you.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1]: Parent Tool Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved June 11, 2017, from
[2]: C., L., & A. (2017, April 27). Binge Eating Disorder Association. Retrieved June
11, 2017, from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on August 17, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 17, 2017.
Published on