Eating Disorder Nutrition Counseling for Teenagers

Support for parents and teenagers using a family-based treatment approach to at-home eating disorder recovery


Struggling with an eating disorder as a teenager is so, so hard.

Unfortunately, it’s also becoming more and more common. Between triggering social media messages, pressure to be perfect, and a culture that pushes some pretty disordered beliefs about food and bodies, it’s no wonder so many teenagers struggle with eating disorders. 

While an eating disorder is absolutely life-altering, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. In fact, catching and treating an eating disorder early on can greatly increase your chances of a full recovery. 

Parenting a teenager with an eating disorder can feel like an insurmountable challenge, but we’re here to help.

Because of the nature of most eating disorders, you as a parent might feel like your child has turned into a completely different person. Their thoughts and behaviors might seem totally out of character all of a sudden, leaving you wondering what the heck happened, and struggling to figure out how to help them. 

All of this is normal. Our dietitian nutritionists are trained to help you and your teenager through eating disorder recovery as part of a team that also includes a therapist and a primary care doctor.

You might even think recovery is impossible for you.

We offer nutrition counseling for teenagers as part of a family-based treatment approach for eating disorders.

Although having a diagnosis can be useful in guiding recovery, it’s not required to seek help. If a teenager is struggling with food and body, that’s reason enough to reach out.

We work with teenagers ages 13 and up (and their families) who struggle with any of the following:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Avoidant-Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Orthorexia nervosa
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)
  • Avoiding certain foods or food groups (like sugar or carbs)
  • Disordered eating
  • Experiencing guilt about eating 
  • Feeling out of control around food
  • Obsessively counting calories or macros
  • Yo-yo dieting

How nutrition counseling works as part of family-based treatment

Step 1:

Reach out and get matched with a dietitian

Fill out this appointment request form to tell us what your teenager struggling with, where you’re located, what times you’re available, and if you’re looking for an in-person appointment in Raleigh, or virtual nutrition counseling.

Step 2:

Confirm your appointment, fill out the required paperwork, and verify your insurance benefits

Once you’ve filled out the appointment request form, we’ll reach out via email within 48 business hours with available appointment times, an introduction to our practice, and more about your dietitian. When you confirm an appointment time, we’ll schedule the initial appointment and send you forms to fill out prior to your session. 

Before your first session, you’ll reach out to your insurance company to confirm your in-network benefits (if you have Blue Cross Blue Shield) or out-of-network benefits (if you have Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, or another insurer). Most Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans cover nutrition counseling in full, but it’s always best to check. 

Step 3:

Have your initial nutrition counseling session

Both the teenager and at least one parent must be present for the initial session. Your dietitian will likely spend some time talking to you together, and some time talking to each of you separately. 

During the initial session, your dietitian will introduce themselves, share more about our practice and office policies, and make sure to answer any questions you have. Then, they’ll ask you lots of questions to get a sense of who you are, what you’re struggling with, and what your goals are for nutrition counseling. By the end of your initial appointment, you and your dietitian will agree on some long-term goals and a plan for reaching them. (Of course, all of this is subject to change — and often does! — as you continue to work together.)

Step 4:

Implement family-based treatment with the support of your dietitian

Because eating disorders are so complex, your dietitian will probably want to meet with you weekly (at minimum) to start. This way, you get the support you need to start the recovery process.

Although each case is different, the family-based treatment approach typically works best when the dietitian meets with the parent(s) and teenager separately. In some cases, the teenager may work with one dietitian in our practice while the parent(s) work with another dietitian in our practice.

You’ll have a standing appointment time(s) (for example, 4 PM on Thursdays), and each week you’ll take small steps towards your long-term goals.

Nutrition counseling is a process, not a quick fix. You won’t get much out of just a couple sessions. Most clients work with us for at least four months, and many stay for over a year.

What is family-based treatment for eating disorder recovery?

Family-based treatment (FBT), also known as the Maudsley method, is an evidence-based approach to the treatment of eating disorders, particularly for adolescents and young adults. FBT aims to empower parents or caregivers to play an active role in supporting their child’s recovery. There are three phases of FBT.

Phase One: Weight Restoration/Re-feeding

In the initial phase of FBT, the focus is on restoring the client’s weight to a healthy level and/or restoring their nutrition status. Parents are responsible for providing the appropriate foods in appropriate amounts (which your dietitian will determine with you and guide you through). Parents are also responsible for ensuring that their child eats a sufficient amount of food, including foods they may be afraid to eat, and monitoring them to prevent any compensatory behaviors like purging or over-exercising.

Phase Two: Returning Control to the Client

Once the teenager’s weight is stabilized and their nutrition status is restored, the focus shifts to gradually returning control over eating to the client. Your dietitian will work with the whole family to empower your teenager to make their own food choices and manage their eating behaviors, while still providing support and structure.

Phase Three: Establishing a Healthy Relationship With Food

The final phase of FBT aims to help the client develop a healthy adolescent identity, which includes a healthy relationship with food and a positive self-image. Your dietitian will work with your teenager towards intuitive eating, while they continue to work with their therapist on establishing a healthy adolescent identity outside of their eating disorder.

Fees and Insurance


85-minute intake: $215*


55-minute intake: $195*


55-minute follow-up: $140*

*This is a discounted rate only for clients paying out of pocket on the day of service. It is not the full rate billed to insurance plans.

Ruby Oak Nutrition dietitians are in-network providers with most Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans. Many plans cover nutrition counseling at little or no to you.

To verify whether your insurance benefits cover my services, call the phone number on the back of your insurance card and use the script provided here.

Our dietitians are considered out-of-network providers for Cigna, Aetna, United Healthcare, and other insurance plans. That means you’re responsible for payment at the time of service. Many clients are able to get some reimbursement from their insurance companies after submitting receipts (AKA superbills) for nutrition counseling.

Check out the FAQ page for more about billing and reimbursement.

Work with us

Virtual nutrition counseling

Available across several states in the US, via a HIPAA-compliant video platform. Our dietitians are licensed in North Carolina, Georgia, and Montana. We can see clients virtually in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont.

Raleigh, North Carolina nutrition counseling

Limited appointments are available at our Downtown Raleigh office, inside Current Wellness: 219 S. East Street, Raleigh, NC, 27601