Eating disorders are a behaviour around food and body image that often reflect deeper emotional issues. They are characterised by abnormal eating habits and negative body image. In the UK, eating disorders affect roughly between 1.25 and 3.4 million people, and the number of cases has increased in recent years. The most common eating disorder is bulimia nervosa, affecting 40% of people. We’re here to tell you that, you can recover, it is possible, and we want to help.
An eating disorder is when the food you eat cannot provide sufficient nutrients and calories to meet your needs, when the food you eat is harmful to your physical health or when you have an intense fear of gaining weight. If left untreated, they can adversely impact your physical and mental health.
Learning about eating disorders and their relationship to body image counselling can help answer some of the questions that you might have in mind. Plus, you will have a better understanding of how to get help and change your habits around food. You may be shocked to find out first, that eating disorders are nothing to do with food or eating or lack of eating.
What is eating disorder counselling?
What Causes an Eating Disorder?
A dysfunctional family relationship
The symptoms of an eating disorder
Going to the toilet after food (too often)
Losing weight or gaining weight quickly
Strange food behaviours and choices
Withdrawal / Isolation
Obsessively weighing self or foods
Looking physically ill
Types of eating disorders
Binge Eating Disorder
Do I have an eating disorder?
Treatment for eating disorders
As with any mental health disorder, treating eating disorders will depend on you and your particular situation. Eating disorders can be complicated to treat(but not always). The treatment aims to help you recognise the problem and take control of it. Eating disorders can be treated through a combination of treatments such as medical care, psychotherapy, CBT, support groups, etc., to bring positive change in life.
In the past, there was only one way to treat an eating disorder, and that was to use psychotherapy. Psychotherapy combines talking, listening and using creative activities to explore feelings, behaviours, and relationships. Today there are other ways to help people with eating disorders and offer support. A structured and supportive treatment plan can prove effective in treating an eating disorder.
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How to get help for an eating disorder
The most important thing is to get help because eating disorders can be life-threatening. People with eating disorders are at risk for medical complications and even death. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Some people find it helpful to seek support from others who have recovered from the similar condition. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a dietitian or psychologist who can assess your needs and recommend treatment options. You can also connect with others in this situation through local support groups or online forums such as Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Eating Disorder Anonymous (EDA), alongside your therapy with us here at Evolve, we are eating disorder specialists.
How Counselling can help eating disorders
Counselling and therapy can help clients with eating disorders understand the underlying issues that contribute to their disordered eating and empower them with strategies and understanding to overcome these challenges. It provides you with a safe space where you can get reliable and professional support. Eating disorders counselling can help with the following:
Types of therapy for Eating Disorders
Online therapy options
Many people with an eating disorder are afraid or ashamed to seek treatment. Fortunately, many online therapy options are available for those who need help.
Online therapy is similar to traditional face-to-face counselling. You can share your thoughts and feelings in non-judgemental space. You’ll have regular sessions with your therapist over the internet. You can use video chat during your sessions such as skype or zoom if you feel more comfortable seeing each other face to face.
It’s important that you choose an online therapist trained in treating eating disorders specifically and other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and relationship problems. It’s also important that you feel comfortable with the therapist and feel they understand your treatment needs and goals.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy for eating disorders aims to help you change these negative thinking patterns to improve your self-esteem and better manage your eating disorder. It works to help you understand how your distorted thoughts and feelings about yourself affect your eating habits.
It seeks to resolve conflicts from earlier life experiences that are causing problems now, such as feelings of low self-worth or depression, through talking about them with a trained therapist who will guide you towards resolving these issues. It’s useful for those who have lost control over their eating or exercise habits or have an unhealthy obsession with body shape and weight control.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy can be used in combination with other types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural or dialectical behaviour treatment. This type of therapy may be appropriate for you or your loved ones dealing with anorexia nervosa or bulimia. It also helps you learn healthy ways of coping with stress and anxiety.
Dialectal behaviour therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) aims to improve the quality of life for those suffering from mental health conditions. It is based on the concept that people have both good and bad mental states and that you can learn to regulate your emotions to live a more balanced life.
DBT works on improving relationships with others while teaching coping skills to manage emotions in difficult situations. This can involve learning how to better recognise triggers and warning signs that lead to intense emotions, identifying ways of coping with difficult situations, and learning how to become more aware of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.
It uses CBT techniques along with other forms of therapy, such as mindfulness training and yoga, to help people manage their emotions more effectively and build healthier relationships with others. DBT is effective for treating bulimia and binge eating disorder.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a popular form of psychotherapy for eating disorders. It’s based on the idea that your thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all connected, so if you change how you think about things, the way you feel will follow. CBT can help you transform your behaviour, overcome negative thoughts and feelings and improve your quality of life.
CBT is usually delivered face-to-face by a psychologist, psychiatrist or other specialist health professionals over 12-16 weeks. Cognitive therapy can be conducted as private therapy or group therapy. You will usually meet weekly with your mental health professional, who will guide you through the process of identifying negative patterns in your life and help you maintain a healthy weight.
CBT is usually short-term (10-20 sessions) and focuses on the here and now. You may be asked to keep daily food diaries or write down what you eat to help you understand your relationship with food. You might also be asked to keep track of negative thoughts or challenge unhelpful beliefs about yourself.
Finding hope in a hopeless place
Good health is not only the absence of disease but the presence of joy that allows you to enjoy life and cope with the challenges of life better. An eating disorder can be a serious experience that requires immediate attention. The main purpose of treatment is to restore your weight to normal and to help you be as healthy as possible.
Counselling helps to sort out the distorted perceptions, uncover your personal problems, sort out unhealthy relationships with food and discover possible solutions such as identifying how your low self-esteem affects your behaviour and modifying unhelpful behaviours. With effective eating disorder & body image counselling, you can find ways to accept yourself for whom you are, address your needs and achieve a satisfying relationship with food and yourself.
Question & Answers
EATING DISORDER COUNSELLING - FAQ
What are your approaches for treating bulimia?
We have an excellent track record of helping people recover from bulimia, this is one of our areas of speciality, we don’t use a one size fits all approach to any work we do, but we treat people, not labels, and we help them regain the relationship with themselves and then with food, which has been lost along the way.
What is binge-and-purge therapy?
We help people see the futility and damaging effects of binging and purging along with an emotional recovery of the mind and spirit, this is a holistic approach that helps behavioural change in the end. Behaviour cannot be the focus as it is is the solution to a deeper problem.
Do you treat recovering ED patients?
Yes we have many clients in recovery from addictions and eating disorders, short and long term, in fact we help people find recovery and work with them to grow their life long term.
What is your track record for treating bulimia patients?
We have 25+ years of working with eating disorders along with personal experience. I would say not many people have that level of experience and understanding of the real problem. We are helping people to recover daily. However nothing is guaranteed.
Do you accept referrals for bulimia therapy?
Yes we work a lot from referrals as people know our specialiaties and expertise working with ED's we have a passion to really help anyone struggling in this order based on personal experience and recovery.
About The Author
In their own words
I had therapy with Jason over the period of 9 months while struggling with a relationship break up. Jason helped me understand myself, my cravings and the darkness I experienced which has really helped me move on and feel free in my life, cannot recommend enough.
Jason really helped me with my eating disorder, I had been struggling my whole life and tried so many other ways to find help but they were all temporary solutions. Jason helped me see how much I contributed towards my own misery, and that I could live a life free of these struggles now.
This was a miraculous experience of seeing a deeper dimension of life. I saw myself as having the weight of the world on my shoulders and it only took a moment to see that it was all just imaginary, I saw myself in a new light, life got easier and more fun immediately.