Do these ideas or questions sound familiar?
Are you preoccupied with thoughts about your body, weight, shape and size? Are you going hell for leather at the gym and chastising yourself if you miss a session? Perhaps you are wedded to the bathroom scales and find yourself stepping on them several times a day and then berating yourself because you don't like what you see?
Do you constantly compare yourself to others; either in your world or the social media world? Do you have a chaotic eating style and find yourself going from one diet to another, only to feel disappointed when you haven't succeeded in what you have set out to achieve?
Perhaps you are investing in compensatory behaviours; such as taking laxatives, restricting food intake or self induced vomiting.
Maybe you are experiencing some shame and guilt around what you are eating? Perhaps other people are starting to express concerns about your weight loss/gain and eating behaviours? Have you started to align moral values to food? Maybe you find yourself avoiding meal times or pretending you have already eaten?
If any of this sounds familiar, you may have an Eating Disorder
It is estimated that over 700,000 people in the UK have some form of Eating Disorder (Royal College Psychiatrists, 2019), however it is suspected that there are as many cases that do not present to health services. The prevalence is much greater than is actually reported.
NICE (National Institute for Health & Care Excellence) define 4 main types of Eating Disorder, however it is recognised that it extends way behind this. All of them are serious mental health illnesses and must be treated by clinicians with specific training.
Eating Disorders can arise out of many factors and with an appropriately trained Eating Disorder therapist, you will start to piece together these things that have resulted in a chaotic relationship with food.
Some people with an Eating Disorder have a low self esteem and often this can lead to a poor body image. Common characteristics of low self esteem are:
We know that those with confidence and a good self esteem are generally more resilient and can find solutions to problems or can accept those things that they cannot change.
Very rarely is the root cause of an Eating Disorder about the way individuals look. More often than not, the root is that which taps into their sense of not being "good enough" and having to fit with the worlds unrelenting standards and the "idea" of perfectionism.
Eating Disorders cannot be treated with counselling alone and the idea of changing behaviours that have acted as a protective factor for a long time can be terrifying. As such, this type of therapy must be conducted by someone with appropriate and accredited training.
Eating Disorders for many are "useful" and now your therapist is suggesting we take that away!
As with any counselling intervention, the "One Size Fits All" approach does not work here, so the work will be very much tailored to your need.
Our work is very gentle and nurturing. We will work together to understand the nature of your Eating Disorder. We will look at yours and your family's relationship with food. We will look at how you have experienced your body over the years. We will spend time looking at your unhelpful thoughts and core beliefs about your body and food. Together we will work together to develop and grow your self esteem. This will be done with the use of Psychoeducation and information around Nutrition Rehabilitation. We will also work together to re-write your internal narrative about the way you view yourself and develop a new food script.
Unlike traditional counselling, the work will be structured and there will be regular activities to be done between sessions.
All the homework has purpose and has been carefully designed to improve your assertiveness, confidence and self esteem and thereby improve your motivation.
The homework also helps clinicians to identify any possible fears or barriers to change
Ultimately though the structure and homework is to support your process of breaking free from this way of being.
The Initial Assessment process is longer than a traditional counselling assessment. This is because eating behaviours take years to develop and it takes time to unpick and understand those behaviours and core beliefs.
Provide training and support around Eating Disorders. The centre is run by world renowned Psychologists and Psychotherapists whom regularly contribute to medical journals and higher learning around this important issue. You will also be able to find a therapist directory.
Beat has a helpline that is open 365 days a year. They offer support to individuals suffering and their carers. Beat regularly campaigns; raising awareness and increasing knowledge so that sufferers can be better supported.
Here you will find information on recognising and treating Eating Disorders best practice. The guidance is regularly reviewed in line with latest medical research and treatment outcomes. NICE produces guidance for central and local government and social care providers.
Internationally renowned for its research and treatment development. The trust provides a range of evidence based treatment packages which are tailored to individual need.