If you have an eating disorder or experience disordered eating, your life is likely governed by:
- a rigid set of rules for eating and exercise
- a view of your imperfections as cause for shame and self-hatred
- chronic fear of losing control
- other limiting rules and beliefs that are part and parcel of eating disorders and disordered eating
If you have an eating disorder you’re constantly preoccupied with your weight and body appearance. Your mood depends on what you see on the scales. You judge your worth by how much you weigh and how successful you are at staying on a diet. You may feel a lot of shame about your symptoms and about yourself. What probably started out as ordinary dieting has developed into a rigid pattern that now runs your life, taking up more and more of your focus, while other things like family, friends, and fun take up less and less.
An eating disorder can feel like your own private nightmare, one you may despair of ever escaping. While it’s true that eating disorders can be stubborn and that recovery can be challenging, people can—and do—get better! I know this from over 30 years of experience working with people with eating disorders. I’ve had the privilege of joining in their journeys of recovery, assisting as they discover self-caring, life enhancing solutions to the problems of living—problems they’d been attempting to handle with eating disorder symptoms.
It takes a village…
It is usual for me to work as part of a team when I treat eating disorders. Eating disorders deeply affect both mind and body; both need to be tended to if recovery is to be lasting. Just who is needed for a particular person’s team is individual to that person. Part of what I’ll do when we meet is help you make that determination and guide you to appropriate experts, which may include any of the following:
- Nutritionist: At minimum, a team typically includes a nutritionist who will help you re-establish normal eating patterns.
- Physician: You may have physical issues as a result of your eating disorder that need attention by an eating disorder-savvy physician.
- Psychopharmacologist: Some people will benefit from medication to help stabilize a mood or anxiety disorder.
- Couple or family therapist: Perhaps your eating disorder is affecting and/or being affected by important relationships in your life.
- Support group: For a number of people, a support group is important to supporting and sustaining their recovery. For some it’s a great way to enhance missing social skills that the eating disorder has been masking.
Up to 60% of adult American women may be eating in a disordered way, even if they don’t exhibit a formal eating disorder. What’s “disordered” may be behavior, such as eating to manage emotions, or regularly fasting for weight loss. Or “disordered” may refer to thinking processes or beliefs, such as believing that the numbers on the scale reveal your worth, or that you are “good” when you adhere to a diet, and “bad” when you don’t. The more disordered eating behaviors and beliefs you have, the more at risk you are for developing a formal eating disorder. But even if it never comes to that, these disordered beliefs and behaviors are personally limiting. They aren’t a foundation for a strong, resilient you.
The good news, whether you have a formal eating disorder or the pattern of disordered eating, is that neither is a life sentence, as multitudes of recovered people will tell you. You can start to invest in the rest of your life right now! I will be happy to partner with you in that journey.