Do you deliberately try to limit your food to influence your shape and weight?
Does thinking about food, eating and weight make it hard for you to concentrate?
Are you afraid of losing control of your eating? Are you afraid of gaining weight?
Do you often have episodes of feeling out of control when you eat?
Have you ever made yourself sick or taken laxatives to try and lose weight?
Do you exercise in a ‘driven’ way to try and lose weight or change your shape?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions you may be suffering from an eating disorder and may benefit from our counselling services to help you with the way that you think and feel about eating, weight and yourself.
What Is An Eating Disorder?
To start with one of our Therapists will meet with you to find out about the nature of your eating issues. They will ask you what you eat and when, whether you binge, purge and exercise and how you feel about your weight and body shape. They will also ask you about other aspects of your life including your physical and mental health in order to get a complete picture of how things are for you. Finally, they will discuss with you what you would like to change and what you would like to stay the same to ensure that the treatment plan they develop fits exactly with what you need and feel able to work on.
Depending on your goals your Therapist will then help you to adjust your current eating pattern and behaviours. This may include keeping a diary of what you eat, strategies for reducing bingeing and purging and ways of increasing your calorie intake in a tolerable way if this is what you would like to do.
Next your Therapist will help you to identify the thoughts and feelings that are maintaining your eating problems and then modify them so that they support a healthier attitude to eating, weight and shape.
You will then work with your Therapist to identify the factors that have led to the development of your eating disorder and either resolve these factors or temper their influence so that you can move forward with your life and no longer need your eating disorder to support you.
The final stage of counselling will involve a period where your Therapist supports you to live without your eating disorder, helping you to address the normal slips and occasional relapses that inevitably occur when you are working to overcome such a problem.
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An Eating Disorder is a problem that involves unbalanced eating habits that are so erratic and/or restrictive that they interfere with a persons physical and or mental health. There are three main types:
Anorexia Nervosa usually develops in adolescence and early adulthood. The defining features of Anorexia Nervosa are as follows:
‘Anorexia’ is not the same as ‘Anorexia Nervosa’. ‘Anorexia’ is a medical term for lack of appetite and subsequent weight loss (usually the result of a physical problem). People with ‘Anorexia Nervosa’ do not lose their appetites but instead intentionally override hunger cues in order to restrict their intake and lose weight.
Anorexia Nervosa is 10 times more likely to occur in women than in men and BEAT (The British Eating Disorders Association) estimates that 1-2% of young women are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa at any one time.
Bulimia Nervosa usually develops in a person’s late teens. The key features of Bulimia Nervosa are:
90% of Bulimia Nervosa sufferers are women and it is estimated to be five times more common than Anorexia Nervosa occurring in approximately 8% of women.
A diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is given to individuals who experience some of the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa and/or Bulimia Nervosa but do not fulfil all the diagnostic criteria for them. For example, you may be bingeing and purging but not frequently enough (i.e. twice per week ) to fulfil criteria for Bulimia Nervosa or you may restrict your food intake but your weight might be above the cut off point for Anorexia Nervosa (Body Mass Index of 17.5).
The most common Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specific is Binge Eating Disorder. Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by episodes of frantic eating (bingeing) large amounts, which are not followed by purging. It usually develops between the ages of 30-40 years.
An Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is the most common type of eating disorder occurring in approximately 4-6% of the population.
Although a significant physical and emotional problem, Obesity is not currently considered to be Eating Disorder, however its cause and treatment are similar. The debate regarding its inclusion as an Eating Disorder continues.
There is no single cause of an Eating Disorder; however, underlying most is low self-esteem. A person develops an Eating Disorder in order to cope or compensate for feelings of worthlessness often reasoning, ‘I may be defective but at least I can be thin’ or ‘People will like me more if I am thin’. An Eating Disorder also commonly occurs when a person feels out of control in other aspects of their life e.g. during major life changes including adolescence and leaving home for the first time. A poor self-image makes it harder for someone to adjust to the changes demanded during these periods leaving them vulnerable to the development of an Eating Disorder; their shape and weight become the only thing that they feel they can control.
Although the thin ideals promoted in the media are often blamed for the development of Eating Disorders it is only those who are already vulnerable as a result of low self-esteem and confidence that will be influenced by these.
The most effective treatment currently available for an Eating Disorder is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). As such it is recommended by the government body NICE as the treatment of choice to aid recovery.
Cognitive Emotional Behavioural Therapy for the Eating Disorders: Working With Beliefs About Emotions by Emma Gray (nee Corstorphine)