Struggling with Food and Weight
The purpose of food: To provide us fuel and nutrition.
What food has become for many: A daily struggle…A comfort…A reward…An escape…Anything, really, but it’s real purpose.
So many people struggle and feel overwhelmed with food and what eat in the pursuit of losing weight. Of finally seeing that “magic” number on the scale or wearing that “perfect” size.
When I ask people how many diets they have been on in their life, most say they have been on so many they have lost count.
They are so confused and frustrated with all of the mixed messages out there about food…..One diet says one food is “bad” and then another one says that same food is “good” and the key to finally losing weight.
Despite trying so hard and being so diligent…“white knuckling” it, depriving themselves of the foods they want….exercising hours at the gym….only to “fail” yet again when they can’t do it any more and give in..and eat..a lot. Gaining all the weight back and maybe even more.
Only they are not the failure. These diets are. They never work!
It is frustrating on so many levels to see so many people suffering…wanting so desperately to look a certain way…believing that once they do…they will finally be happy.
Everyone has their own personal history and reasons why they started having a dysfunctional relationship with food and why they continue to do so.
Sometimes the behaviors and the impact that this is all having on someone’s life goes well beyond trying a diet to lose weight. Sometimes it becomes all-consuming and crosses a line to where their entire life is at risk. In these instances, we say someone has an Eating Disorder.
What are Eating Disorders?
The short answer is: Eating disorders are illnesses.
They overwhelm the lives of those who have them.
They can result in death.
They make those who have them feel trapped and unable to stop doing them.
They make those who have them struggle daily with food, weight and body image.
They are all-consuming: they take over your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
What are they NOT?
They are not a choice.
They are not something you can just choose to stop doing.
They are not something you just need to have more willpower or be “better” at controlling your eating and exercise in order to stop doing them.
They are not something you have to continue struggling with…..
There are three main eating disorders:
Binge Eating Disorder
And, there is a 4th type: Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED).
People with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa tend to*:
- Feel bad about themselves and have low self-esteem.
- Be very critical of their bodies and of themselves.
- Be perfectionists and oftentimes they are the straight-A students and successful in just about everything they set their mind to.
- Believe their bodies are “never good enough” or “thin enough”.
- Say things like “ I feel fat”.
- Have an intense fear of gaining weight and of “being fat”.
- See themselves as overweight, sometimes even despite life-threatening malnutrition or semi-starvation.
- Deny that they have a problem, so they don’t come in or ask for help.
People with Binge Eating Disorder tend to*:
- Recurrently eat large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort)
- Feel a loss of control when they are eating this food.
- Experience shame, distress of guilt after they eat this food.
- Not try to do anything to “compensate” for the amount of food they just consumed (such as with bulimia nervosa)
- Eat large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eat alone due to being embarrassed by the amount they are eating
- Fear eating around others
- Withdraw from friends and activities
- Frequently diet
- Are extremely concerned with body weight and shape
- Are often “body checking” in the mirror for perceived flaws in their appearance
- Have low self-esteem
- Have fluctuations in their weight
People with Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED)*:
- Do not “fit” into any of the above 3.
- However, they struggle significantly with food and weight.
- Do have eating disordered behaviors.
- Are actually the majority of the people I see come into my office.
Eating disorders often occur together with other psychiatric disorders like:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Alcohol and other substance abuse problems
- WHAT IF I DON’T GET HELP?
Without treatment of both the emotional and physical symptoms of these disorders, Eating Disorders have many negative effects on: health, quality of life and relationships.
What I see most often is a false sense that “I am fine” and that “nothing bad will really happen to me” because sometimes people have been engaging in their behaviors for so long and nothing “really bad” has happened to them…at least physically…that they can see on the outside. They may even have “normal labs”, which is very often the case until your body is so ill that things really may be too far gone.
There are many PHYSICAL consequences of having an eating disorder. Some of the most common are:
- Cardiovascular/Heart problems
- Gastrointestinal Problems such as feeling full after eating very little, stomach pain and bloating
- Sleep problems
- Bone loss
- High Cholesterol
- Kidney Failure
- Compromised Fertility
- Death and other potentially fatal conditions can result.
Not to scare you…but to bring some harsh reality to all of this:
While all eating disorders carry some increased risk for death, Anorexia Nervosa is THE DEADLIEST psychiatric disorder, carrying a six-fold increased risk of death—four times the death risk from major depression. And if first diagnosed in your 20’s, your risk of death is 18 times that of healthy people your age. (WebMD, 2011).
The Most Common Consequences to Quality of Life and Relationships:
- Social Isolation/Loneliness
- Loss of Relationships
- Loss of Job
- More Irritable/Moody So Argue/Fight More With Others
- Financial Struggles (Paying for Food, Gym, Programs to maintain illness/medical bills)
- Drop out of school (can’t think clearly)
OK…SO ALL OF THAT WAS REALLY BAD NEWS, RIGHT?
THE GOOD NEWS IS: With proper care, those with eating disorders can resume suitable eating habits, and return to better emotional and psychological health.
RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!
2. WHAT IF I CALL YOU? WHAT HAPPENS?
Eating disorders clearly illustrate the close links between emotional and physical health.
So, first things first. I am not a medical doctor or a nutritionist. I focus on the emotional health side of things.
If we choose to work together, the first thing I will need you to do is get a complete physical by your general practitioner. I am more than happy to send over exactly what I want them to check out and send over to me (if you are ok signing a release for them to do that, of course!)
Once I get everything back from your medical doctor and everything looks ok….
We start with an in-depth Comprehensive Assessment Session. During that time, the foundation is set to jumpstart our work together. I will gather some very important information and the next time we meet, you will get a personalized binder summarizing everything we discussed and outlining an individualized plan based on your individual symptoms, situation, needs, and goals.
Please be aware that I want you to get better! To overcome all of your struggles with food, weight and body image once and for all. This sometimes takes a team effort. Your personal plan may or may not, therefore, include referrals to a nutritionist or a psychiatrist. These are always optional and up for discussion if I do suggest bringing them into your plan…but know that I have taken the time to find only truly qualified and knowledgeable ones great ones. Together we will be your “power” team helping you on your way to recovery!
READY TO START? HAVE QUESTIONS?
CALL ME PERSONALLY NOW: 925-252-5808
E-MAIL ME PERSONALLY AT: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Please note, these are not the diagnostic criteria nor are they a complete list by any means of all the signs and symptoms. For more comprehensive information, please visit: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org