Eating disorders are serious conditions that cause both physical and emotional damage. They involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors – following rigid diets, gorging on food in secret, throwing up after meal, obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. These negative thoughts and feelings fuel the damaging behaviors.
People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.
An individual suffering from an eating disorder or distorted body image may exhibit the following behaviors:
- Preoccupation with body or weight
- Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition
- Constant dieting, even when thin
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Taking laxatives or diet pills
- Compulsive exercising
- Making excuses to get out of eating
- Avoiding social situations that involve food
- Going to the bathroom right after meals
- Eating alone, at night, or in secret
- Hoarding high-calorie food
Changing the way you feel about your body is not easy. By working with one of our professional therapists you can explore the issues underlying the eating disorder, improve self-esteem, and learn healthy ways of responding to stress and emotional pain. Family counseling can also be effective for dealing with the impact the eating disorder has on the entire family.