Do You Struggle With Eating Disorder Symptoms?
Food seems to be a constant battle. Much of your thinking each day revolves around food and weight. You consciously and relentlessly regulate what you eat in order to control your shape or size.
Maybe you eat emotionally or compulsively, using food to calm or soothe yourself. Maybe there are times when you try to compensate for what you’ve eaten by restricting your intake, exercising, or engaging in other purging behaviors. It all feels so out of control.
You’re so uncomfortable with your body that you aren’t living your life.
Food and weight take up so much of your brain space, but you just don’t see a way out.
Disordered Eating Is Normative
While eating disorders have a genetic component, many turn to eating disorder symptoms as a way to cope. You might have noticed that despite the downsides, engaging in eating disorder symptoms offers you some relief. So many of us struggle with trauma, difficult family dynamics, anxiety and stress – and we develop strategies over time to help us get by.
You’ve also probably noticed that we live in a culture that actually celebrates disordered eating. Whether it’s a multi-billion dollar diet industry, social media weight-loss challenges, toxic fitness messaging, the medical weight-loss complex, or just family members who praise you when you lose weight – we’re influenced by so many people and systems that all seem to encourage disordered eating. This can make it that much more challenging to recover.
We get so many messages about food and eating and our bodies, all of which interfere with our natural abilities to feed and care for ourselves. We hear about what to eat and what not to eat, good foods and bad foods, how often and intensely we should be exercising, how we should look, and what we should weigh. It’s hard not to buy into these messages.
But they separate us from our wisdom around how to eat and how to move, take care of, and occupy our bodies. For those who have marginalized identities – people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, those who are aging or disabled, and more – this separation can be even more pronounced.
You’re not alone in this. At Gatewell Therapy Center, our specialized eating disorder providers have worked at all levels of eating disorder care with thousands of people just like you. Our advanced expertise and team approach can help you return to a healthier relationship with food and your body.
Eating Disorder Therapy Can Help You Rewrite Your Food And Body Story
At Gatewell Therapy Center, we believe:
- No foods are “bad.”
- Food is more than just nourishment – it’s pleasure, comfort, family, culture, connection, and home.
- All bodies should be accepted, respected, and free.
- All people can pursue health and well-being.
- Your issues with food or your body are not your fault.
- Your body is wise.
- You don’t have to be at war with your body.
- You can return to your innate acceptance of – and wonder about – your body.
- You are capable of healing.
Our eating disorder therapists are here to help you understand why you developed an eating disorder, what function the symptoms serve, and to work toward coping in a healthier, more sustainable, and life-affirming way. We can help you reduce the amount of time you spend thinking about food and criticizing your body, and we can help you return your focus to what matters to you most.
What To Expect In Eating Disorder Therapy Sessions
At Gatewell, eating disorder therapy is an all-hand-on-deck approach. We offer individual therapy, group therapy, and nutritional assessment and counseling. We also work closely with primary care providers, psychiatrists, and other professionals to make sure you’re getting the wraparound care you deserve.
Your first session is an opportunity to share your concerns and what you brought you to us. We’ll get a sense of what’s going on and the severity of your symptoms and struggles. We may have you complete self-report measures, and through our specific eating disorder assessment process, we’ll gather a lot of information through this first meeting. We’ll be able to make some treatment recommendations at this time.
How Eating Disorder Therapy Can Help You Heal
We’ll develop an individualized plan to help you heal. That might include individual sessions, group therapy, consultation with a registered dietitian, meeting with a primary care provider, and any other elements that will give you your best shot at recovery.
As a foundation, Gatewell’s eating disorder counselors actively promote the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size® in our clinical work. Above all, our team is committed to respecting, accepting, and liberating all bodies.
Some of the other approaches we use include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps you explore and challenge disordered thoughts about food and weight and work toward engaging in healthier behaviors.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which targets emotion dysregulation and offers you a wide range of skills to turn to instead of eating disorder symptoms.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which helps you defuse from your eating disorder voice and instead move toward more values-aligned behavior.
- Family-Based Treatment (FBT, also known as the Maudsley Approach), which empowers you, the parent, to help your teen recover from eating disorder symptoms.
Together, these approaches can help you spend less time thinking about food, learn other ways to cope with distress and regulate your emotions, and focus on living your values and achieving your goals, free from the watchful eye of your eating disorder.
Gatewell eating disorder therapy providers also work with parents and families around food and body issues presenting in children. Whether it’s picky eating or a burgeoning disorder, early intervention is best; parents/guardians are the best allies in prevention and treatment. Our therapists consult with parents and families around their children’s difficulties with food, incorporatingEllyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility and Family-Based Treatment.
But You May Still Have Concerns About Starting Eating Disorder Therapy. . .
I have some symptoms of disordered eating, but I don’t think it’s bad enough to need help.
Many people who have eating disorders underestimate the severity of their concerns. If you’re spending a significant amount of time each day thinking about food and your body, then regardless of how much you’re eating and regardless of your weight, you can benefit from eating disorder counseling. Moreover, symptoms can worsen over time. The sooner you get help, the more of a chance you have at recovering.
My eating disorder helps me. I don’t want to give it up.
That makes sense. We’ll spend time really looking at what the symptoms do for you, as well as how they might be harming you. Most people come into therapy with some ambivalence; we expect that. And recovery is ultimately your decision, but know that we wouldn’t even think about asking you to eliminate a coping strategy without having some replacements in its place. Restricting, bingeing, compulsive exercise all do something for you. We’ll figure out what that is and help you learn some healthier skills to cope.
Specialized eating disorder treatment is so expensive.
Eating disorder therapy can be expensive, as it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to become an eating disorder specialist. Our therapists have years and years of working with eating disorders in outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and residential level of care. We’ve completed additional training and received specific credentials to work with eating disorders. That’s the kind of background that is necessary to work with these concerns. Other providers can actually cause harm when it comes to issues related to food and weight, as they often reinforce harmful cultural norms around eating and bodies, norms which can inadvertently fuel eating disorder symptoms.
This expertise is expensive, yet your recovery is an investment in yourself. If you stay stuck in the eating disorder, this will have a significant impact on your work, your relationships, your health, and your life. Getting help now can save you years of suffering.
Eating Disorder Therapy Can Help You Return To Living
Life with an eating disorder can be excessively rigid, chaotic, or both. Inevitably, so many aspects of your functioning are impacted, so much is lost, so much is put aside. You can learn to eat in peace and feel more comfortable existing in your body. You can reclaim your mental energy, your identity, and your freedom. Recovery is possible; we’ve seen it. Contact Gatewell Therapy Center to schedule your first appointment.