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  • Eating Disorder Therapy

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    Does Your Relationship With Food Control Your Life?

    Is your desire to be thinner or have the perfect body causing you physical and emotional distress? Does almost everything you do each day center around food and body image? Do you wish you could feel at peace within your body and mind and free yourself from constant self-scrutiny once and for all?

    When you are living with an eating disorder, your preoccupation with food, shape, and weight can feel all-consuming. Perhaps you experience intense anxiety over what, when, and how much you eat. To maintain control, you might hold yourself to rigid dietary rules and restrictions to the point of obsession. If you binge-eat or break your dietary rules, you may make up for it by purging or excessively exercising. 

    The physical fallout of your eating disorder could be affecting your quality of life. In addition to noticeable weight loss or weight gain, you might experience weakness or dizziness due to a lack of nutrition. Moreover, the way your body digests food may be impacted, leading to constipation, lack of hunger, or lack of fullness. Your eating habits could also be contributing to insomnia, fatigue, and brain fog that could potentially impact your job performance.

    If you equate your self-worth to your weight, you may feel ashamed and depressed when you are not at your desired weight. You may avoid social events when food is involved and refrain from telling others about your eating disorder. These habits, combined with the physical and psychological side effects of your disorder, could make you feel isolated and negatively affect your closest relationships.

    The good news is that therapy can help you overcome the behaviors that contribute to your eating disorder. With the proper treatment, you can effectively manage eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating and restore a healthy balance in your body and mind.

    Our Image-Obsessed Culture Perpetuates Eating Disorders 

    Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening mental health conditions that affect people of all races, genders, and socioeconomic classes. National surveys show that approximately 28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.[1] What’s more, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.[2]

    We live in an image-obsessed culture that places a high value on shape and weight. It’s common for us to compare ourselves to images of people on television and social media which have been touched up and do not reflect reality. Nevertheless, we convince ourselves that with the right diet or exercise routine we too can have that perfect body. When we fall short of this impossible goal, some of us struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with food and with our bodies. 

    There are several types of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), and Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED). A common misconception is that only women suffer from these disorders, as men can also be affected. Whereas women tend to strive for a thin body, men often strive for a perfect, muscular physique, which can also lead to disordered eating. People with BED often turn to food for emotional comfort to deal with intense feelings, as eating pleasurable foods releases dopamine. Although binge eating has an immediate anesthetic effect, it later leads to guilt and shame.

    Fortunately, counseling for eating disorders can help you shift your relationship with food and body image so that it is no longer the primary focus of your life. Research shows that approximately two-thirds of people who complete cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders have an excellent response to it.[3]




    Eating Disorder Therapy Can Be Your Pathway Back To Wellness 

    One of the challenges of overcoming an eating disorder stems from the fact that it is both psychological and physical in nature. When you are not fueling your body adequately or below your ideal body weight, it can impair your thinking and cause intense anxiety about food. Your behaviors may feel addictive and like you want to stop but don’t know how on your own. A therapist can help you identify and work to change your negative thoughts and behaviors related to food, shape and weight and stop the cycle of shame.

    At Saible Neuropsychology, we aim to give you a safe space to share your innermost thoughts about your eating disorder. We want you to feel comfortable discussing this subject without fear of judgment so that you can make strides in understanding and coping with it from day to day. We want to help you improve your relationship with food, to feel more present and comfortable in social situations involving food, and to feel better about your shape and weight. At your initial session, you will meet with your therapist to gather your background history and explore your reasons for seeking therapy. From there, we will suggest a specific treatment method for you based on your individual needs and goals.

    In ongoing sessions, we will explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to food, shape, and weight. Along the way, you will receive psychoeducation about eating disorders. We will help you understand the psychological needs that your eating disorder meets and suggest strategies for getting those needs met through healthier coping skills. For example, if your eating disorder stems from a need for control, we will work on helping you to feel in control of your life through healthier coping skills. Together, we will identify the mechanisms you have put in place that maintain your eating disorder so that we can work to eliminate them. While we may explore some of the reasons your eating disorder developed,  eating disorder treatment primarily focuses on changing your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in the here and now.

    The modality we use most often is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E). CBT-E is a one-on-one form of talk therapy conducted over twenty to forty sessions. Working in stages, we will actively work to change your behaviors and identify new ways for you to think about food. We will work on changing your pattern of eating and identify ways to “check the facts” and cope with anxiety that may come along with these changes. We will also work on identifying and eliminating other harmful behaviors that contribute to negative body image such as body checking and comparison. Together we will work on building a life outside of your eating disorder and finding joy in new hobbies and activities.  

    It’s a myth that people with eating disorders don’t recover. It will take commitment, but by working together with your therapist and changing your thoughts and behaviors about food and body image, a new way of living in the world is possible. 

    But you may still be wondering whether eating disorder therapy is right for you…

    What if I’m afraid to gain weight?

    We understand that it can be scary to seek therapy for your eating disorder. The idea of gaining weight can seem especially terrifying at first, but we will work up to it gradually. By the time we reach that step, you will already feel better about how you eat, look, and feel and will have learned to trust your body.

    My eating disorder defines who I am—I’m lost without it.

    You might have lived with your eating disorder for so long that it has become an integral part of who you are. When your thoughts and behaviors revolve around food, it can feel overwhelming —even disorienting—to consider a different way of living. But imagine how exciting it will be when you figure out who you are without it. After the proper treatment, you can find new ways to view yourself so that you will no longer be defined by your eating disorder.  

    Things are never going to change, so why bother?

    Right now, it may feel like nothing will ever change and you are doomed to live with an eating disorder for the rest of your life. We know that you have been doing the best you can with the skills you have, but sometimes you need to learn new skills to improve your situation. Eating disorder therapy is your opportunity to learn these skills so that you can feel happier, healthier, and more confident in who you are. 

    It’s Possible To Love Your Body And Feel Whole

    A better quality of life awaits you when you commit to overcoming your eating disorder once and for all. For a free, 15-minute consultation, please call us at (727) 565-2424 or contact us.

    Call to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our therapists!