Here at Davenport Counselling, we help Clients to manage their weight, enhance their health and improve their lives.
Food plays an important part in our lives. Our personal relationship with food will change from time to time; eating healthier, having cravings, losing our appetite or eating too much, this is normal and can affect all of us from time to time. But eating disorders are very different. They can be detrimental to both physical and emotional health, and even be life-threatening.
Eating disorders are very complex conditions that can affect someone emotionally, physically and socially. We take eating disorders very seriously at Davenport Counselling. In the UK, more than 700,000 people are affected by an eating disorder, both men and women.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder, regardless of age or gender. There is no one reason why a person will develop an eating disorder; there could be a range of factors that have had an influence, including genetic, social, environmental, psychological and biological.
It has been suggested that eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental health problem. Eating disorders are serious, yet they are treatable and people can make a full recovery. The journey maybe long and is not easy, but it is possible to get help, fight the fear and get to the root cause of whatever triggered the eating disorder and take your life back.
Types of eating disorders
Anorexia nervosa causes a person to feel overweight, even though they may be considerably underweight. The desire to lose weight can lead to the person skipping meals, starving themselves and/or exercising excessively.
Bulimia can cause a person to feel as though they have lost control in their relationship with food. People with bulimia can fall into a cycle of eating excessively (binge-eating) and purging – through vomiting, over-exercising or using laxatives.
Body dismorphia, where what a person ‘sees’ and perceives themselves to look like is not what their body actually looks like.
Binge-eating disorder sees people experiencing a loss of control and overeating regularly. Sometimes described as compulsive eating, a person may rely on food for emotional support or use food as a way to mask difficult feelings. Affecting both men and women, binge-eating disorder is more common in adults.
Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)
In the past some people with disordered eating may have been diagnosed with EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). This was used in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 2013. Nearly 50% of all those diagnosed with an eating disorder were diagnosed with EDNOS and studies suggested that many of these did in fact have binge-eating disorder.
The DSM classification system changed in 2013 to ensure more people with eating disorders received a diagnosis that accurately described their symptoms and behaviours. EDNOS is no longer used as a diagnostic term and since the change, diagnosis will be anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder.
Spotting the signs
Eating disorders can be a way of coping with feelings of anger, sadness, depression, anxiety or worry. They are complex illnesses and there is no single cause that will apply to everyone. Anyone can be affected and situations will differ from each individual. However, if you are worried about your own health, or a loved one, there are several warning signs you can look out for, including:
- Skipping meals
- Commenting on their weight, even if they are of a healthy weight/are Underweight
- Weighing themselves repeatedly
- Avoiding eating situations, feeling uncomfortable eating in public or making excuses
- Only eating low-calorie foods
- Change in behaviour or personality
- Withdrawing from social situations or hobbies they previously enjoyed
- Using or mentioning ‘pro-anorexia’ websites
If you suspect a friend or family member has an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know what to do, but offer support. Be gentle in your approach and let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk. Your friend or family member may not know they have a problem, or if they do know, they may not be ready to seek help. Fear is a powerful thing and it can be difficult to see a way out of the dark place they are in. Try not to make assumptions and let them know you will be there to help when they are ready.
People with eating disorders may worry about talking to someone. If they suspect a problem, they may feel ashamed or embarrassed, which can make seeking help difficult. Fear plays a big part in eating disorders and even if the person wants help, they may be afraid of taking the next step. Recovery will mean changing eating behaviours which can be a terrifying prospect for someone with an eating disorder. While this can feel daunting, the aim of recovery is to fight that fear and regain a healthy attitude to eating and body image.
Whether the problem is more recent, or it has been around for a while, support and recovery is possible. If you are worried about anything, find someone to talk to, whether it is a friend, family member or even a professional. Remember you are not alone.
Counselling for eating disorders
The first port of call when seeking help maybe through your GP. Speaking up can feel scary and it takes so much strength to start the journey. If you are worried about going to the GP alone, ask a friend or family member to go with you if you can. If you are not ready to visit a medical professional or your loved ones, counselling is always an option. This gives you space to talk about what you are going through in a private, non-judgemental setting.
Treatment is available and recovery is possible. It will usually involve monitoring physical health, as well as taking steps to understand the potential psychological causes and effects. While treatment will depend on the individual and the eating disorder, common options include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Family therapy
With the majority of the population being overweight, people who have difficulty gaining weight can have a hard time finding people to empathize with them. It can be just as frustrating to not be able to gain weight as it is to lose it! At Davenport Counselling we understand this but before making any changes to your diet, we would recommend seeing your Doctor to rule out any medical reasons for your difficulty gaining weight. Your health and well being are our paramount concern.
Calories: Our bodies have a need for a set number of calories each day. This need is based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level. In order to gain weight, you will need to take in more calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight.
Nutrients: There are six essential nutrients that our bodies need to function; they are protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Each of these nutrients has its own function and is needed in different amounts. The way to get them is through the foods that we eat, and in some cases, by the supplements that we take. Your goal for gaining weight will be to eat a well-balanced diet.
At Davenport Counselling we believe in a holistic approach to weight management, using various techniques such as EFT (The Emotional Freedom Technique), to help with stress, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT, recommended by the NHS) Transactional Analysis (TA) and other proven psychological techniques, because weight management is rarely only about what we eat. There are many reasons why maintaining weight can be difficult, so we work with you as it is more often what is going on in your head, not just what is going into your mouth.