Eating Disorder Treatment / Do I have an eating disorder? Do you feel uncomfortable with the way you look? Do you obsess with weight and numbers, calories, and exercise. Do you find yourself less motivated and less interested in things you once enjoyed. Do you hide food in strange places (closets, cabinets, suitcases, under the bed) and do you cut your food into small pieces, eat secretively, and avoid socializing with your friends and family. If you are severely restricting, starving yourself, binging on large quantities of food followed by purging, then you are experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder. There are different kinds of eating disorders. Anorexia involves self-starvation, over exercising, hiding food, binging and purging. The examples above are psychological signs. Mood swings, depression, fatigue, insomnia, all accompany eating disorders and they can be pretty harmful to your health and your psychological well being.
It can be really confusing to know whether you really do have an eating disorder. Some misconceptions about anorexia, bulimia and compulsive overeating exist. Some individuals think that they cannot be anorexic because they eat when they have to. Restriction of food and calories does not mean complete restriction for all sufferers. For some it means sticking to certain kinds of foods because they are ‘safe’ and limiting calories to below normal every day. For others this means fasting for a few days and then eating ‘normally’ for the next number of days and repeating the cycle. Another misconception is that some people think they don’t fit the category because they are on the high end of their healthy weight. People suffering with any eating disorder can be of any weight. The weight of a person’s body does not indicate their overall health, nor does it change the danger a person could be in.
There is the voice of the eating disorder and then there’s you. The eating disorder personality threatens the quality of your life and your health. It tells you that you have no will power, that you’re weak if you eat a little more than you feel you should eat. It’s like having your own constant battle and self-dialogue. You feel negative, you see things negatively and you just feel pretty guilty, ashamed, depressed, and irritable. For a person who has never experienced an eating disorder, the best way to understand the ‘voices’ is to imagine your own self-dialogue. Have you ever berated yourself for making a mistake? Have you ever had a hard time making a decision? Imagine that your own way of thought was constantly being questioned and poked at. All your thoughts about yourself and everyone around you was negative. Imagine that the only way of escaping those thoughts was to turn your attention towards food, weight, and eating.
It can be really scary to think of those things. There are different kinds of coping mechanisms which you can use when you feel hopeless and frightened. The first thing is to seek treatment because there are medical complications, not just psychological ones. A list of affirmations can be helpful to turn to when things seem out of control. Those can be placed somewhere close to look out and repeat daily. There are online support groups which can be a great resource for finding help and support from others who are experiencing the same thing. An eating disorder can be a very lonely thing to live with but it does not have to be something one experiences alone. There are other coping alternatives which are positive methods of dealing with stress and emotions, rather than turning towards self-destructive patterns. Some of the ways in which a person with an eating disorder can cope are writing in a journal, painting a picture, telling a person how you feel, calling a hotline, and staying in touch with others. It does not have be something one experiences alone. It is also helpful to make a coping bank of at least 5 things to do instead of turning towards symptoms. These can be addressed with a therapist, a nutritionist, a medical practitioner. There are options out there which can improve the quality of life and happiness of anyone who lives with an eating disorder. Anorexia can rob a person of fulfillment in many areas of a person’s life. A person’s talent does not become realized and relationships are affected in negative ways. Hobbies and special interests become ignored because everything becomes about the eating disorder and nothing else. This is not a way to live! Although it may seem scary at first to get help, it is one of the most important decisions to make when one is suffering from this demon.
Still want support to manage your eating disorder? Help is available. Call The Center for Growth to schedule with an Eating Disorder Therapist today. Call us at 215-922-5683 Ext. 100. We offer therapy in Philadelphia, PA, Ocean City, NJ, and Mechanicsville, VA, in addition to online therapy in both Georgia and Florida.
There are several different types of eating disorders that we at the Center for Growth, can help clients with. We are broadly categorizing the eating disorders into four main categories:
- Anorexia nervosa: This is a severe eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, and an intense desire to be thin. People with anorexia nervosa severely restrict their food intake, often to the point of starvation, and may engage in excessive exercise or other compensatory behaviors to control their weight.
- Bulimia nervosa: This is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors such as purging (vomiting), laxative abuse, or excessive exercise. People with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight, but they still have a distorted body image and a fear of gaining weight.
- Binge eating disorder: This is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating (eating large amounts of food in a short period of time) without the compensatory behaviors seen in bulimia nervosa. People with binge eating disorder may be overweight or obese, and may experience feelings of shame and guilt about their eating habits.
- Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED): This is a category for individuals who have symptoms of an eating disorder, but do not meet the full criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses. We strongly encourage people to seek out professional help. Eating disorders can have serious physical and psychological consequences and can even be fatal if left untreated. In the event that you decide to choose another therapy practice, we strongly encourage you to do your HW than your choosing any one
Eating disorder treatment typically involves a combination of approaches, including:
- Psychotherapy: This is a type of talk therapy that can help individuals with eating disorders understand and address the underlying emotional and psychological issues that contribute to their disorder. Different types of psychotherapy that are commonly used in eating disorder treatment include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family-based therapy.
- Nutrition therapy (this is outsourced): This involves working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to help individuals with eating disorders learn about healthy eating and develop a healthy relationship with food. Nutrition therapy may include meal planning, food preparation, and education about the role of nutrition in physical and emotional health.
- Medications (this is outsourced) : Antidepressant medications can be helpful for some individuals with eating disorders. Antidepressant medication is commonly used to treat co-occurring conditions like anxiety and depression.
- Hospitalization or Residential Treatment: In some cases, individuals with eating disorders may require hospitalization or residential treatment to stabilize their physical health and begin the process of recovery.
- Support groups: Joining a support group can be a beneficial part of treatment for many individuals with eating disorders. Support groups provide a place to connect with others who are going through similar experiences and can provide a sense of validation and understanding.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be needed for individuals with eating disorders who have developed physical complications from their disorder, such as muscle weakness or decreased range of motion.
It's important to note that recovery from an eating disorder is a process, and it can take time. It's also essential to seek professional help and guidance to ensure that the treatment is tailored to meet the individual's specific needs.