I believe eating disorders manifest as a survival skill to cope with difficult thoughts, feelings, and a way to manage stressful life challenges. Eating disorders are complex mental health issues that affect individuals both physically and emotionally. Disordered eating can dramatically impact the quality of life due to severe obsessions surrounding food and weight when untreated serious health risks are implicated. Eating disturbances can include a wide range of behaviors included binging, restricting, purging, and overeating, which can ultimately damage an individual’s well-being. Eating disorders affect all genders and can occur at any stage of life, including childhood, adolescence, and young adults.
I work extensively with all eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-exercising, binge eating, diabulimia, over-exercise, compulsive overeating, ARFID, pica, emotional eating, and body dysmorphia.
Eating disorder treatment goals are unique to each individual, however, my overall goals as a therapist are to help my clients to end destructive behaviors (i.e., restricting foods, binge eating, purging, excessive exercise) and heal their underlying issues with food, weight, and body image. Sometimes goals may include: understand internal and external triggers to behaviors, develop healthy coping skills to manage behaviors, learn to express feelings appropriately rather than using food to regulate emotions, explore distorted or obsessive body image concerns and facilitate acceptance of self, address and resolve underlying mental health issues, enlist healthy social support, begin to identify a sense of self outside of the eating disorder, explore emotional and relational patterns that trigger eating disorder behaviors and compulsions, learn to manage anxiety related to food and body effectively, and maintain a recovery-oriented mindset.
TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS
Body Image Concerns:
The high consumption rates of social media coupled with image altering software at your fingertips there is an intense pressure placed on people to appear is specific ways. This puts strain on individuals causing, low self-esteem and body image concerns. Media, compounded with influence from family, friends and sociocultural factors can create chronic thoughts surrounding appearance. This may enforce ideas of fad dieting, obsessions with food and exercise, anxiety and depression.
Anorexia is a serious medical condition that can be a life-threatening eating disorder characterized by severe restriction of food, extreme weight loss, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image. It can lead to the loss of menstruation in females, as well as brittle hair, nails, and skin.
Bulimia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by binge behaviors, followed by an attempt to avoid gaining weight by purging what was consumed. There are varied methods of purging include forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, and extreme or prolonged periods of exercising.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is a serious, potentially life-threatening disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often quickly and to the point of discomfort) while feeling out of control during the binge, followed by shame, distress or guilt afterwards. Sometimes, individuals who struggle with Binge Eating may turn to yo-yo dieting as a way to manage weight gain. This can include restrictive dieting, leading to more binge or emotional eating behavior.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder
A person with OSFED may exhibit many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder, but will not meet the full criteria for the diagnosis of these disorders. People with OSFED commonly present with extremely disturbed eating habits and/or a distorted body image and/or overvaluation of shape and weight and/or an intense fear of gaining weight. OSFED is the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
Individuals with ARFID have developed problems with eating resulting in inadequate nutrition through their diet. This results in significant weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, or young children may not reach expected weight and growth charts for their age. There are many types of eating problems that may arise such as difficulty digesting certain foods, avoiding certain colors or textures of food, eating only small portions, having no appetite or being afraid to eat after a frightening episode of choking, vomiting or stomach pain. Individuals with ARFID typically don’t fear gaining weight nor have a distorted body image. It predominantly affects children and teens; however, some adults also struggle with the disorder.
Orthorexia is identified by a fixation or obsession to eat only “healthy” or “clean” foods, while sometimes avoiding entire food groups. Orthorexic eating styles are often praised by pop-culture dieting trends. An individual struggling with Orthorexia can feel isolated from or superior to people who may consume foods they view as bad or toxic. The most common form of Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy foods and planning one’s diet to the extreme to make sure that undesired foods and food groups are not consumed. Intense fear and anxiety result from perceived diet failures.
PANDAS is short for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. A child may be diagnosed with PANDAS when OCD behaviors follow a streptococcal infection, such as strep throat, or OCD symptoms become more severe. The symptoms normally have a dramatic onset and can include obsessive and compulsive behaviors in children. This can include the manifestation of obsessive behaviors with food and eating.
STOP BINGING AND END EMOTIONAL EATING
Food and feelings are deeply intertwined for individuals suffering from Binge Eating Disorder and emotional overeating. I can help you learn new ways to manage the out of control feelings around food. Eating becomes a survival skill for coping with stress and intense feelings like anxiety and depression. During and leading up to a binge, individuals have feelings of brief comfort or release while eating; it can feel like “comfort, vacation, numb out, or escape”. In the short-term, bingeing eases overwhelming feelings, but as the binge ends, comfort is replaced with shame, self-loathing, guilt, and feelings of helplessness. Equal to the emotional pain, the body is left in physical pain and extreme fullness, causing a sedative 'hangover' like effect. I have helped people who tried to control their eating for decades, turning to diets, fasting, and goals for weight loss, learn to break the binge-restrict cycle. Without help this cycle continues to repeat itself, creating a vicious cycle of self-loathing, dieting and bingeing. The binge and overeating can feel like an unbreakable obsession with food, body image, weight, self-loathing, and urges for more. I use a blend of interventions to help you reduce binge urges and develop an enjoyable relationship with food, body image, and mindful movement.
Please reach out if you need help with Eating Disorder Therapy and treatment. I can help you navigate towards recovery. My office is located in Claremont and it conveniently neighbors La Verne, San Dimas, Upland, Ontario, Glendora, Rancho Cucamonga, and other Inland Empire, Orange County, San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County cities.