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Eating Disorders

Are You Worried That You Or A Loved One Is Struggling With An Eating Disorder?

Do you or does someone close to you exhibit symptoms of an eating disorder, such as regularly avoiding eating an adequate quantity or variety of food, binge eating and/or purging? It may be that you notice a loved one obsessively worrying about his or her weight and/or body image or engaging in extreme self-criticism in relation to his or her body. Perhaps your college student has begun losing/gaining weight rapidly and/or withdrawing socially. You might notice a loved taking excessive trips to the bathroom and/or being in the bathroom for an extended amount of time. Or, if it’s you who is struggling, are you constantly judging your body shape and/or size, to the point that it interferes with your ability to enjoy and/or consume food?

If you are a parent you might notice your child losing weight or not gaining weight as expected. You might have noticed that your teen has stopped eating his or her favorite foods. Your once meat-eating loved one may have become a vegetarian for “health reasons,” but are you becoming concerned with his or her increasingly restrictive diet? Perhaps you or your loved one has become consumed with counting calories and/or will only eat after carefully reading nutritional labels. Your good intention to become healthier may now be spinning out of control, and no number on the scale seems to satisfy you. Maybe you can’t relax or enjoy social activities unless you have exercised, even if that means missing out on sleep or other commitments. Do you feel compelled to exercise even when sick or injured? Do you wish you could just eat normally and enjoy your life, without constant worry about food intake and what other people think of you?

Eating Disorders Are Incredibly Common, Serious Medical Conditions

Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are incredibly common, potentially devastating illnesses that affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and personalities. In America alone, over 20 million women and 10 million men suffer with an eating disorder and, even more shockingly, at least one person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result. Additionally, one in five people with anorexia nervosa will die of suicide. While popular culture depicts those affected as being primarily white, overachiever-type girls and young women, these insidious illnesses don’t discriminate when it comes to age, gender or background. Eating disorders impact pregnant women, mothers, fathers, grandparents, athletes, and individuals who look completely normal on the outside. Eating disorders often manifest during times of stress or transition, which makes it perhaps less surprising that one in four college students meets criteria for an eating-related disorder. Eating disorders can often be hard to detect, yet at least 1 in 20 adults exhibit key symptoms of bulimia, binge eating, or anorexia. The rates in children and adolescents are even higher with more than 33% of adolescent boys and more than 50% of girls having used unhealthy weight control behaviors, and struggles with eating can be a lifelong battle for many.

It’s important to note that problems with eating aren’t always (or even often) solely related to food. In many cases, someone who is suffering uses food as a way to gain some modicum of control over his or her life. Often, those suffering feel helpless, lost and extremely self-critical. Many have a negative body image. Some may realize that they need help, but are unsure how to get it. This confusion may manifest as extreme reluctance to address challenges with eating, and may elicit secretive and/or deceptive behavior. Often, an eating disorder can provide a sense of comfort, accomplishment and/or distraction when other aspects of an individual’s life feel out of control. Therefore, it can be very challenging and to some feel almost impossible to stop disordered eating behaviors without appropriate treatment. If you suspect that you or someone close to you has disordered eating, it is vital that you seek help immediately. As the above grim statistics indicate, these disorders can be life threatening and must be taken seriously. The good news is that an experienced eating disorder therapist can provide an assessment and help you or your loved one move toward recovery and a happier, less restrictive life. One of the most important parts of recovery is getting professional help at the onset of the illness, especially with adolescents and children. Studies show that getting help early can significantly impact prognosis and chances for recovery.

Eating Disorder Treatment Provides Support, Guidance And A Healthier Path Forward

Therapy is an essential component of eating disorder treatment, as well as working with a dietician, psychiatrist and/or physician. Eating disorders are most effectively treated with a team approach. It’s virtually impossible to successfully treat an eating disorder without the help of an experienced eating disorder therapist. I use evidence-base therapeutic models to help you on your journey to recovery, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based therapies, and family-based treatment. I’ll help you identify and implement coping tools to overcome challenges with eating and other stressors in your life. I’ll help you understand the psychological, social, and biological aspects of the illness and, throughout your therapeutic journey, I will work collaboratively with you to uncover and build upon your innate strengths so you may lead a more integrated and meaningful life. Using a strength-based approach, you can access your resilience and create balance in your mind and body.

In addition to individual therapy, studies show that patients who undergo family therapy as well have significantly lower rates of relapse than those who don’t. Through family therapy you can learn how to support your child or loved one through his or her recovery process. Eating disorders are extremely distressing to the person who has the eating disorder and also cause extreme worry and suffering for parents, grandparents, siblings and spouses. Family therapy is essential for children and teens and just as important for adults. I help families figure out possible factors that may be maintaining the eating disorder. Often family therapy involves learning how to handle conflict and tolerate intense or overwhelming emotions, which is often very helpful in a person’s recovery. It’s important for family members and loved ones to fully understand that eating disorders are not necessarily about food or weight, but are often indicative of a wider perceived lack of control and/or unhappiness. My family therapy sessions take a non-blaming approach in which families are encouraged to work as a team to support constructive changes that will help in the recovery journey and foster ongoing growth and healing for the family.

I have worked with eating disorder patients at all levels of care. I have worked at a well-known top pediatric eating-disorder center seeing patients as inpatients, partial –hospitalization, and intensive outpatients, providing individual, family, group, and multi-family therapy groups with successful outcomes.  I now treat eating disorders at the outpatient level of care. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to seek treatment if you suspect somebody close to you is suffering with a food-related disorder. Without adequate help, 33 percent of people with anorexia will die, 33 percent will recover and 33 percent will be in and out of recovery. The earlier you intervene, the greater your chance of successful recovery. I have, however, had successful outcomes with patients who are extremely ill who began their battle in the ICU. With the right treatment and a collaborative support network, there is a lot of hope for recovery. With your permission, I’ll work with your dietician, physician and your personal support team to help you or your loved one return to health. It’s important to remember that life can be so much better and more joyful without having to battle disordered or restrictive eating and/or purging.

Common disorders that I have expertise working with…

•Anorexia Nervosa

•Binge Eating Disorder

•Bulimia Nervosa

•Disordered Eating

•Atypical Anorexia Nervosa (weight is not below normal)

•Bulimia Nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)

•Binge-Eating Disorder (with less frequent occurrences)

•Purging Disorder (purging without binge eating)

•Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

•Unspecified Feeding/Eating Disorder

You still may have questions or concerns about eating disorder treatment…

I feel like I’m going to be blamed or judged.

Throughout history, there has been a lot of misconception about eating disorders. Much of this misinformation has resulted in blame being unfairly placed upon parents, family members or even the sufferers themselves. This blame is not only unhelpful, but also inaccurate. These illnesses are very complex and are influenced by a number of factors. Research now shows that disordered eating can affect a diverse array of people from all kinds of backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, etc. Genetics and a combination of other factors can set the stage for someone to be vulnerable to developing eating disorder behaviors. Living in our image-obsessed society does not help. I know parents and loved ones are not the cause of eating disorders but are very helpful to the recovery process. With me, you’ll never be blamed for this illness. Rather, I will work to relieve the pain at the root of the disorder, implement effective strategies to combat disordered eating and allow you or your loved one to return to a healthier way of living.

I’m afraid that my child will be mad at me if I force him/her into therapy.

Often, people struggling with eating disorders will insist that they are “fine” and don’t need help. However, dangerous eating disorder behaviors are actually, at some level, a cry for help. Once a sufferer begins working with an experienced therapist who understands the complexities of this illness, he or she often experiences great relief and typically gains hope for recovery. There is a lot of shame and suffering with eating disorders and knowing there is a lifeline can feel pretty amazing. Also, even if your child is “mad” at you for bringing him/her to see a therapist, it’s important to remember that eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses requiring immediate treatment. Research indicates that the earlier treatment is sought, the better chance of recovery and less life-altering consequences.

I’m not sure if my child/loved one has an eating disorder. Maybe it’s just a phase?

Eating disorders are not a phase. However, you may not know for sure if your loved one has an eating disorder. Often, people display secretive behavior and it can be difficult to discern what’s really going on. Also, you may be wary of placing the label “eating disorder” on what you view as potentially a developmental phase. However, whatever your level of concern, it’s important to take your loved one’s issues with eating seriously, seek treatment as early as possible and ensure that your child, spouse or loved one gains the help he or she needs to prevent the onset of a full-blown, life-threatening illness. As an eating disorder expert, I can help assess if your loved one has an eating disorder and what type of treatment he or she may need.

You Can Overcome And Recover From An Eating Disorder

If you’re ready to begin eating disorder therapy, I can help. Call 972-489-2658 today for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I can answer any questions you have. We can also set up an initial meeting where you’ll be able to relax in a comfortable environment and better understand the benefits of working with an eating disorder therapist.