Whilst working in the UK, I specialised in treating people with various eating disorders and it has since been a particular interest of mine. I was also part of a multi-disciplinary team who developed an award winning intervention program to support people who suffered from over-eating and obesity.
Eating disorders are characterised by unhealthy and irregular eating habits, coupled with intense distress about body weight or shape. People who have eating disorders struggle with eating inadequate of excessive food intake and it ultimately damages their physical and/or emotional wellbeing. The most common eating disturbances include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. It occurs in both men and women, young and old, rich and poor and people of all cultural backgrounds are affected.
Eating disorders are complex and the causes are multi-faceted. It is often associated with significant psychological distress and it is not uncommon that people may also suffer from other difficulties such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, personality disorders and medical complications.
Evidence suggests that early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the severity and duration of an eating disorder. Unfortunately, people go to great lengths to conceal, disguise or deny their eating behaviours and this means that there can often be a considerable length of time between onset and time of first treatment.
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Treatment often entails a multi-disciplinary approach with input from a psychologist, a nutritional expert and a medical professional. In psychotherapy, the focus is often on changing distorted thinking patterns and unhealthy behaviors. Exploring and understanding the causes of your relationship with food and your body, problem-solving, stress management and treating the co-morbid conditions such as depression, anxiety, and personality difficulties are often indicated. Family or systemic therapy can be very beneficial. There is also increasing evidence that Mindfulness is an effective intervention strategy to help people with unhealthy eating behaviours.
The best results are achieved by a tailor-made intervention, a good relationship between you and your therapist and commitment to make some changes.