What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders occur when a person becomes preoccupied with the food they’re eating, often because of an underlying preoccupation with the size of their body. For example, someone with anorexia will severely limit the amount of food they eat in a day, usually in order to lose weight or maintain a low weight. Someone with bulimia may limit the amount of food they eat and then eat a large amount of food, after which they will try to compensate for the food they eat through exercising, vomiting after eating (called purging) or using laxatives.
What causes eating disorders?
Eating disorders can be caused by a variety of circumstances and can often be an expression of underlying anxiety or depression that a person feels. Some people develop eating disorders after going through a traumatic event. For others, eating disorders represent an attempt to gain control in a world where they feel they don’t have enough control.
Eating disorders can also develop in response to unrealistic body size standards and our society’s preoccupation with thinness. In the media and social media we are constantly flooded with images of extremely thin people, who are often glamorized as meeting our society’s ideal of beauty. This preoccupation with thinness can lead people to become obsessed with making their body conform to this ideal.
How are eating disorders treated?
Because eating disorders are physiological as well as psychological, it is important that someone with an eating disorder receive treatment from a medical doctor in addition to psychological treatment from a therapist. In fact, most people with eating disorders benefit from seeing a medical doctor to monitor their physical health, a therapist to help them change their views about their bodies and/or food and to help them resolve any underlying issues that may be contributing to the disordered eating, and a dietitian nutritionist to help them re-learn how to eat in a way that best suits their needs.
How can therapy help?
Therapy can help people with eating disorders change their views about their bodies and/or food, ultimately allowing people to change their behaviors and learn how to nourish their bodies. With these three kinds of treatment, people with eating disorders can ultimately change their behaviors and learn how to nourish their bodies.
Is there hope for me?
Yes! Many people all over the world recover from eating disorders when they get the right treatment and support. I have helped many of my clients unpack the disordered belief systems around food and body that they have come in with and go on to lead healthy, happy lives.