Eating Disorder Help and Treatment – What to Expect
Individuals could be looking for help with the impact of food restriction, purging addictions, binge eating or overeating. As a Master Practitioner in eating disorders, I offer different treatment according to what is being experienced. Here are some basic guidelines on what to expect:
I will generally ask for someone’s weight, height and date of birth initially so I can assess the impact of undereating. If someone is underweight, it is vital that they have an eating plan in place and support in following this because it can be extremely difficult to do so alone. Being underweight can be challenging for the person concerned because they often feel split into 2 parts – a part that wants to get better and another that wants to lose more weight! Treatment typically involves helping the sufferer with this mindset to build on their capacity to manage the disordered part of them that can make them feel very anxious about eating and then guilty afterwards. As weight is restored, a person typically becomes stronger in the way they think and feel which makes their normal lifestyle more accessible again.
Self-induced vomiting is addictive and therefore it is really important to help someone learn to control this behaviour. Often people vomit to get rid of food they have eaten and once they can appreciate it is difficult to purge even half of what they have eaten, this can help them to review what and how they are eating. With a guideline on foods that promote emotional balance, they can learn to change the way they eat, minimise triggers for bingeing and consequently the urge to purge.
Some people are caught up in a relentless cycle of dieting to lose weight only to find that the pounds creep back on all too quickly. This can be extremely demoralising and many sufferers become fed up of diets although they feel they have no alternative for weight control. They enter into a relationship with food that is either very ‘clean and healthy’ or otherwise the complete opposite. With these clients, I introduce the idea of eating in a very different way, forever, regardless of the circumstances such as celebrations, holidays, evenings out, etc….. By learning to relate to food in a more forgiving way, the cycle of ‘feast or famine’ can evolve into one of moderation without restriction but with increasing choice over binge foods.
Some people develop the habit of eating too much on a regular basis. They may find that food has become the main reward in their life, losing contact with their physical body as they continue to grow and put on weight. Quick and convenient food options like takeaways and processed foods can further exacerbate their situation where they are consuming high levels of sugar that can lead to easy weight gain. Helping someone in this predicament to understand how food choice can influence weight gain can be an important first step in changing lifestyle in order to promote weight loss and an increasing sense of confidence and wellbeing.