What is it and why?
The commonly known Eating Disorders are:
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
However, eating disorders have many nuances, which makes the experience of each individual very unique. Despite the various forms and intensity, all eating disorders have one thing in common: it’s not about eating and it’s not about food. It’s about the relationship with food and what it represents. It’s about using food to regain a sense of control.
Eating disorders stem from unresolved emotional pain related to an incident or series of stressful/traumatic events. These may include:
- Peer/family/society pressure
- Being bullied
- Physical/sexual/emotional abuse
- Loss of a loved one or a significant relationship
However, some individuals may biologically be more prone to develop it.
Eating disorders are frequently accompanied by other emotional and mental distresses such as Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Bipolar, Personality, or Substance Abuse Disorders. Self-harm is another condition that at times co-appears. Additionally, individuals with an Eating Disorder often struggle with Body Dysmorphia, low self-esteem, emotional regulation, and perfectionism.
What are the Symptoms?
As a family member you may miss symptoms of an Eating Disorder in a loved one. This is common, as Eating Disorder behaviors produce an enormous amount of shame in the person who is suffering from it. Therefore, individuals with an Eating Disorder tend to be discrete with the behaviors. The behaviors include:
- Frequent consumption of large amount of food
- Avoiding eating in public (restaurants, work, school, family gatherings, etc.)
- Restricting food intake
- Excessive calorie counting
- Eating only certain types of food
- Self-induced vomiting
- Excessive exercising
- Using laxatives or diuretics
- Obsession about body shape and weight as well as weighing frequently
Eating Disorder behaviors interfere with day-to-day life activities. They are debilitating and control a person’s social, school, work and family life.
You may have heard of Disordered Eating and ask what is the difference.
Disordered Eating could entail all signs of an Eating Disorder, however the behaviors are less intense and frequent. Disordered Eating could be a pre-cursor to an Eating Disorder.
Treatment of Eating Disorders may require involvement of a psychiatrist and a dietitian. Family Therapy is also highly recommended. At times, higher levels of care such as residential or partial hospitalization may be needed. I have experience in diagnosing Eating Disorders and assessing for the required level of care.
How can I help?
As a person with an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating you may feel ambivalent about receiving treatment. After all, as destructive and harmful as an Eating Disorder can be, it was developed to help you cope with anxiety, shame, and sadness. You may have considered it the only constant friend who has helped you sooth emotional pain. It is hard to let go of an old friend without replacing it. I can help you make this transition possible. I meet you where you are at with your level of motivation for recovery. I work with you to process past pain, increase awareness for triggers, learn new coping skills to manage emotions, and become more assertive with your needs.
It’s has been said that shame is an indication that our values and behaviors are not aligned. I can help you to synch up the two.