Eating disorders are quite complex mental health problems that involve an unhealthy attitude towards food.
Aside from the obvious physical effects, eating disorders can have significant impact on relationships, work, school and most areas of day-to-day life.
There are three main eating disorders:
Anorexia nervosa involves trying to keep body weight to a minimum, often through excessive calorie restriction and exercising a lot. With anorexia, body image is distorted and you see yourself as being overweight when in reality you were actually underweight.
Bulimia nervosa is also largely about controlling body weight but involves binging on foods and then purging (often through forced vomiting or using laxatives) to get rid of the calories. Most sufferers feel that they regain some control during purging, to the point that it can happen after every meal. Most people with bulimia are technically a ‘healthy’ weight but the combination of binging and purging can have strong physical and emotional effects on the body.
Binge eating also involves excessive eating but without the purging that accompanies bulimia. With this type of eating disorder, there is usually a lot of guilt and shame after binges. It’s not uncommon to make a genuine commitment to eating better or going on a diet for a while, before feeling the urge to binge again. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge eating often leads to quite significant weight gain.
Eating disorders can have genetic, social, psychological and environmental causes and there’s no one trigger for why they develop.
Some of the risk factors include:
- A family history of eating disorders and/or depression
- Feeling under a lot of pressure to be thin (whether this is peer pressure or expectations that develop because of your work or hobbies, for example)
- Having anxious or slightly obsessive tendencies Receiving negative comments about your weight or how you eat
- Experiencing traumatic life events such as bereavement
- Having difficult relationships with family and friends
- Being under a lot of stress in your life
If you have developed an eating disorders, you may feel that your weight is the only thing you can control in your life.
Medical treatment is essential to assess any complications that may have been caused by an eating disorder. This is true even for binge eating, which may not seem as unhealthy as anorexia or bulimia but can actually lead to a number of health problems.
For treatment to work, it’s important to really want to regain a healthy relationship with food and to address the underlying psychological reasons that triggered the condition.
Treatment for eating disorders include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy and family therapy. Medication can be used to boost your mood.
Hypnotherapy can also help to treat eating disorders alongside psychological treatments and medications.
With Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, you can also learn tools to change your eating habits so you can build a healthier relationship with food.
It can also help to uncover the reasons why an eating disorder has developed, including any situations that may have acted as a trigger.
Using positive suggestions, hypnotherapy can also help you to build a stronger relationship with yourself and encourage a greater sense of self acceptance.
Focusing on changing unhelpful and negative thinking patterns and helping you to react better to stress and anxiety can be helpful for your recovery.