Eating disorders are described as a persistent disturbance of eating behaviour or behaviour intended to control weight, which significantly impairs health or psychosocial functioning. The three main eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of their age, gender or cultural background. There is no single cause that can explain why a person develops an eating disorder. Rather, a combination of biological, psychological, familial and socio-cultural factors can make a person be more predisposed to developing an eating disorder.
Having an eating disorder can feel very lonely and isolating, as they are often kept secret from others. An eating disorder can be seen as a way of coping with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence, as a reaction to stress or trauma, and as a way to avoid intense emotions and to exert control. They are not simply “a lifestyle choice”, “a phase” or “a women issue”. They are complex and often life-threatening conditions, but people can, and do, get better.
Body image issues are a prevalent characteristic of people with eating disorders. Your body image is the result of your thoughts and feelings about your appearance. In people with eating disorders, these thoughts and feelings are often distorted (“If I’m thinner, I’ll be better – more likable – more successful”). People with a negative body image often resort to disordered eating behaviours, repeated dieting, or over-exercising in the hope to feel better about their looks. Their extreme fear of looking fat can lead to starvation, binge eating and/or purging behaviours.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a process that can take time; therefore it is important to be patient with yourself. You may feel quite confused about your eating disorder: It might give you a sense of safety and control when things get difficult, but you might also be aware that what you are doing is dangerous for your health and not what you really want in life. Crossroad Counselling and Psychotherapy offers eating disorder counselling based on Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, using a collaborative approach based on respect rather than confrontation. I will help you with normalising your eating patterns and developing healthier coping strategies. Treatment for eating disorders also involves working on your negative self-image. The last stage of your recovery from an eating disorder is to build your self-esteem and to deal with any underlying issues that may have played a role in the development of your eating disorder.