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Eating Disorder

What Is an Eating Disorder?

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Treating an eating disorder

An eating disorder is a mental condition in which a person forms a destructive, unhealthy relationship with the way they eat. These can begin small and seem inconsequential at first; if left untreated, however, they can blossom into dangerous, even life-threatening issues. If you think you’re struggling with an eating disorder, it is of utmost importance that you reach out for professional help.

Anorexia is when a person is so concerned with losing or keeping off weight that they go to extreme measures, such as drastically limiting their food intake, engaging in intense overexercise, or taking weight-reducing medicines or supplements, in order to prevent weight gain.

Bulimia refers to when a person regularly binges on large quantities of food, often in secret, and then “purges” or “counters” the overeating using unhealthy methods. These can include self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives or other weight loss medicines, and extreme dieting, fasting, or exercise.

Binge-eating, or bingeing, is the most common eating disorder in the United States. This condition involves regular overindulgence in food, even to the point of discomfort or distress, marked by feeling a lack of control over your eating habits. This leads to shame, guilt, or other strong negative emotions. This condition differs from bulimia in that someone struggling with binge-eating does not go on to counter or “fix” the damage of overeating in the way that someone with bulimia would. If you engage in behaviors like this once a week or more, you may have a problem with binge-eating.

Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder

The symptoms of an eating disorder can be difficult to spot, as many people who struggle with them do so in intense privacy. Because exercise, fasting, and dieting are normal and healthy to a certain extent, it can be easy for a person to hide an eating disorder under the pretense of simply being overly concerned with their physical shape. Possible signs that you or a loved one are dealing with an eating disorder may include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable eating around other people
  • Frequent, intense cycles of dieting, exercise, or taking supplements
  • Extreme concern with body and weight
  • Alarming comments about needing to lose weight
  • Engages in secret binges, eating large quantities of food at once and hiding it
  • Sporadic or disrupted eating habits
  • Developing food rituals in preparation and consumption
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Being preoccupied with eating food in a specific way
  • Only eating certain foods

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Treating an Eating Disorder

While eating disorders can become severe and life-threatening, they are also treatable. If you suspect that you or someone you love have an eating disorder, it’s of utmost importance to seek professional help. These conditions are firmly rooted in the subconscious mind and can be extremely difficult to address on your own. Our current medical understanding of how eating disorders work has allowed modern practice to develop effective forms of treatment for all kinds of eating disorders, allowing you and your loved ones to return in health and happiness to the life you want to live.

Eating disorders are rooted in deeply-held self-perception issues and can be connected to numerous emotional traumas or stressors. The most effective treatments address a patient with an eating disorder on a number of levels, from the psychological to the social. One of the most prevalent tools is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which works to help a person identify their thoughts and emotions as they occur from a less subjective vantage point. Doing this allows you to recognize destructive or triggering moments and navigate through them according to the values you wish to uphold. CBT can help you develop more positive outlets for your negative tendencies and regain control over your relationship with food.

Another important component of treating an eating disorder is to address your emotionally intense interpersonal relationships. If your family, friends, or romantic partner are affecting your mental health, they may be a factor in your unhealthy behavior. We offer family-based therapy to get to the root of what is often a complex interpersonal issue so that we can rebuild family dynamics in a more productive way.

How to Get Help With an Eating Disorder

An eating disorder can be an extremely personal issue, creating intense feelings of shame and self-loathing which make it difficult to reach out. Some people struggle with eating disorders for years before getting help; some never get help at all. If you think you might have an eating disorder, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get help. Although it might be scary to open up to someone about your problems, especially if you haven’t done so yet, this is the first step you must take in order to get to the root of your issue and achieve a happier, healthier future, unencumbered by the burden of this struggle.

Once you’re ready to get help, you might work with a nutritionist, psychiatrist, psychologist, or eating disorder specialist to find solutions for your unique circumstances. Most eating disorders benefit from a combination of personal therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and medications like antidepressants. Begin by reaching out to your primary care doctor, a personal therapist, or a recovery facility that you trust.

Treatment centers can offer exceptional benefit to people struggling with eating disorders because they tend to employ a wide array of staff with expertise in a number of fields who can help you address your issues on all fronts, from the medical to the psychological to the social. At Warner Park Recovery, we offer a dedicated program for recovering from eating disorders. Our experienced, compassionate staff understand the sensitivity of treating your unique condition and they work with you to guide you out of the darkness of your past and into the light of your future.

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