First, if you or someone you love struggles, you are not alone. There can be a spectrum ranging from of chronic body dissatisfaction, chronic dieting, disordered eating all the way to an eating disorder. The causes are multi-dimensional and complex (biological, psychological, sociological). The chances of recovery increases the sooner you seek help. Body image is the mental representation that one creates in their mind, but it may or may not relate to how others see an individual. The skewed view that someone has of their body can affect people across the globe, where ethnicity, culture, gender/non gender, and age are affected.
I come from a non-dieting approach. I seek to walk alongside clients and their families to help them step into making peace with food and become more aware and empowered regarding body image (whether its becoming neutral, or having better days vs. loving your body) We can explore the underlying issues and help with tools to cope.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are copious numbers of eating disorders and, unfortunately, the statistics mentioned above don’t begin to scratch the surface. Here are few examples of eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa: People reduce the amount of energy intake required for their weight, age, gender, development and physical health.
- Bulimia Nervosa: Individuals consume large amounts of food, and then induce themselves to vomit to stop weight gain.
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Eating large amounts of food in small periods of time. Feeling guilt and shame frequently after eating.
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Children are not just finicky when it comes to this disorder, but they become malnourished because they restrict themselves from eating certain foods. ARFID can also appear in adults.
- Diabulimia: People with Type 1 diabetes purposely underuse insulin to control their weight.
Like other mental disorders and illnesses, care should involve a diverse team of experts or integrated care team. It’s recommended that professional caretakers include the following:
- Social worker
- Primary care physician
Due to the severe toll that eating disorders may have on an individual’s physical health, psychological therapy is not enough. It’s also important, if possible, to incorporate family therapy and support groups. Family-Based Treatment, according to NEDA, is a method used for patients who are minors.
In severe cases, higher levels of care may be necessary; the person suffering from the eating disorder.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder and need immediate help you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Help Line: 1-800-931-2237. An eating disorder is a serious medical and health concern that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.