Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, and Emotional Overeating are the most common eating disorders, but many people have unhealthy relationships with food and problems with body image. Although eating disorders affect women and men of all ages, teenagers and young adults are particularly vulnerable to their devastating effects. Current studies show that over 30 million individuals suffer from an eating disorder at some time during their lifetime, and that number is growing rapidly. When eating problems start to affect your thoughts and feelings about yourself, it is time to get help
Eating disorders can affect all aspects of one’s life. The earlier treatment begins for disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, the better the chance for full recovery. Therapy must encompass a broad spectrum of treatment, including the understanding that many individuals suffering from disordered eating also have a co-occurring mental health or psychological problem. When you also consider the medical problems and lasting physical effects of disordered eating, you can then understand why therapy with an Eating Disorder specialist is vital for recovery.
Ironically, Eating Disorders have little to do with food. For many, disordered eating, restricting food intake, binging, purging, and over-exercising become ways to control their environment. Most people suffering from eating disorders struggle with expressing feelings and emotions. Eating disorders are multi-dimensional and may include low self-esteem, a driving need for perfectionism, and a more intensive reaction to the pressures to be thin from our culture, the media, and our society. These disorders are not a passing fad or just a phase that one is going through. Eating Disorders develop over time, but the long-term consequences for health, productivity, and relationships are devastating and enduring.
Common Symptoms of Anorexia
- Restricted food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
- Intense fear of weight gain and obsessive behaviors or rituals to promote weight loss.
- Self-esteem overly related to body image.
- Denial and failure to recognize the severity of the problem.
- Over-exercise, purging, or other compulsive behaviors.
- Difficulty eating around others.
- Medical Complications including: Bone-density loss, low blood pressure, hair loss, hormonal imbalances, dizziness/fainting, and gastrointestinal problems.
Common Symptoms of Bulimia
- Frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food (Binging) followed by behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or laxative use.
- A feeling of being out of control with eating behaviors.
- Obsession with body image and fear of weight gain.
- Eating in secret or eating alone.
- A feeling that that some describe as a “high” after their binging/purging cycle.
- Denial that there is a problem.
- Medical Complications may include: decaying teeth, hormonal imbalances, hair and nail loss, severe dehydration, irregular heart beat/heart attack, esophageal and gastrointestinal disorders.
Common Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
- Frequently consuming large amounts of food without behaviors such as purging.
- Feeling embarrassed, guilty or shameful about eating habits.
- Eating when not hungry or eating to the point of feeling major discomfort.
- Feeling out of control during a binging episode.
- Eating alone or in secret to avoid judgement from others.
- Medical complications may include: heart disease, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal problems.
Common Symptoms of Other Disorder Eating Problems
- Eating to manage your mood when depressed or anxious.
- “Grazing” on food over the course of time, even when you are not hungry.
- Nighttime eating or awakening at night in order to eat.
- Purging or laxative use without binging.
- Losing a large amount of weight rapidly and unsafely.
- Symptoms that fit most of the criteria for anorexia and bulimia without the frequency of behaviors or a severe amount of weight loss.
If you or a loved one is currently suffering from an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food, it is important to remember that eating disorders are serious and can have dire consequences. Eating disorders exist in men and women and across all cultures. The prevalence of eating disorders in teenagers is growing at an alarming rate. Asking for help with this mental health issue is very difficult which is why it is important to see a therapist who has the experience and expertise to help you.
As a specialist in the treatment of Eating Disorders, I take a multi-disciplined approach to therapy. At the heart of treatment is learning why and how the eating disorder developed and learning skills to behave differently around food. By challenging the beliefs and thought patterns that have developed about food and weight issues, we will have a successful start in the recovery process. Therapy utilizes proven techniques, many of which focus on:
- Nutrition Management.
- Emotional Regulation.
- Family and personal relationships.
- Environmental and social pressures to be thin.
- Recognition of distorted thinking patterns about food and weight.
- Dealing with issues of control and perfectionism.
- Learning new skills to cope with symptoms and behaviors.
Successful treatment looks at the individual as a unique person and takes into account the diverse environment we all live in. I will help you discover ways to lift self-esteem, gain control of your life, and feel less depressed and anxious – and to stop using eating or food behaviors to do so. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) corrects errors in thinking and perception that lead to negative self-perceptions. This will allow you to learn new behaviors to replace the eating disordered behaviors. I utilize CBT along with integrative therapeutic techniques that will help you to change attitudes about food, eating, and body image. I will provide you help with poor eating habits and compulsive behaviors. Once change is achieved, treatment continues with techniques and skills to prevent relapse.