What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders occur in individuals of all ages whether they are male or female. An eating disorder is characterized by abnormal eating habits. It is characterized by eating too much or too little, accompanied by excessive concerns about one’s weight and body image. It often stems from or co-occurs with depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse.
There are millions in the United States that struggle with eating disorders. Statistics show that 90% are young adult women who have an eating disorder are struggling with either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
At Integrated Counseling and Wellness, we have a professional team that can help.
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Anorexia, Bulimia and Other Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by intentionally starving yourself due to the overwhelming belief that you are overweight. Those who struggle tend to develop an obsession with losing weight, thus they create dietary restrictions and participate in strenuous exercise routines. Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa are: emaciation, fear of weight gain, loss of menstrual periods and impotence in males.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by eating excessive amounts of food followed by cleansing the body. This “cleansing” is done by induced vomiting, diuretic or laxative abuse. Based on studies, 50% of anorexia sufferers will also develop Bulimia Nervosa. Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa are: loss of bone mass and muscle, brittle hair and nails, racing heart, erosion of dental enamel on teeth and severe constipation.
Treating an Eating Disorder
The first step to recovering from an eating disorder is admitting that there is a problem. The second is to set up a support group, such as a family member or close friend, who you can trust. Assembling a treatment team with Integrated Counseling and Wellness and working with a medical team to address any health problems caused by the disorder is the next step. They will help you develop a long term treatment plan and help establish strategies to ensure that you understand and learn healthier coping skills.
Emotional Do’s and Dont’s of Coping With Eating Disorders
-Be open-minded about every emotion you experience.
-Experience your emotions without fear or the need for control.
-Let yourself open up to the people you trust most.
-Allow interaction with others rather than food to comfort you.
-Avoid or control your emotions because they scare you.
-Worry that your emotions will make you fall apart.
-Allow others to shame you for expressing your feelings.
-Use food as a coping mechanism for negative emotions.
Avoiding an Eating Disorder Relapse
It is important to understand that a relapse is a natural part of the recovery process. Develop a healthy relationship with food by regaining a sense of hunger and fullness, and accept and love yourself for who you are. Watch for the following signs and seek help if needed:
- You find your thoughts returning to eating and weight loss
- You have feelings of shame or guilt after eating
- You feel the need to hide information from your treatment team
- You continue to focus on looking good rather than being healthy
- You believe that being slim is the key to happiness
- You continually have negative thoughts when looking in the mirror
- People close to you believe that your self-image is inaccurate
Eating Disorder Support Groups
When dealing with an eating disorder, remember that you are not alone. There are support groups near you. Find more information: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org or speak with your therapist from Integrated Counseling and Wellness about finding the right support group for you.