Online Therapy for Eating Disorder
On the United We Care mental health platform, you can find licensed eating disorder counselors and therapists who are specialized in assessing, diagnosing, and treating eating disorders and its symptoms.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are mental health illnesses in which people go through severe disturbances in their regular eating habits. People suffering from this condition generally become pre-occupied with their weight and the food they consume.
Types of Eating Disorder
There are 3 types of eating disorder:
When the patient weighs at least 15% less than their ideal weight, it can be because of anorexia nervosa. Some of the main symptoms of this disorder include:
- Eating very little
- Fear of being ‘fat’ or overweight
- Having issues with body image
- Denial of low body weight
People going through this disorder usually weigh very little because they refuse to eat enough and exercise more than required. They might indulge in purging or making use of laxatives to help lose weight. If not treated in time, anorexia can cause:
- Stoppage of menstrual periods
- Thinning of bones
- Hair and nails becoming brittle
- Dry skin
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure
- Fall in body temperature
Individuals with this disorder can either be a little underweight, or might maintain normal body weight, or can also be overweight or obese. Unlike anorexia, patients who have bulimia tend to binge-eat frequently and consume astonishing amounts of food in a small time-frame. They sometimes gulp down the food without even tasting it. They stop binge-eating only when interrupted or when they fall asleep. Post binge-eating, they usually suffer from stomach pains and the fear of gaining weight. It is one of the common reasons why they forcefully throw up or use laxatives. Most often, if your loved one has bulimia, it is difficult to detect as they hide their eating binge successfully most of the time.
Some main symptoms include:
• Sore throat, which might also be chronically inflamed
• Salivary glands present in the neck and below the jaw become swollen, and the cheeks and face become puffy
• Tooth enamel fades and begins to decay because of being in constant contact with stomach acids
• Constant vomiting
• Laxative abuse, which can further cause problems in the intestine
• Kidney problems
• Severe dehydration
• In rare cases, it can also lead to cardiac arrhythmias, esophageal tears, and gastric rupture.
Binge Eating Disorder
Symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:
• Binge eating secretly at least once a week for at least 3 months
• Eating very fast
• Eating until you feel uncomfortably full
• Overeating even when not hungry
• Eating alone because you are embarrassed about how much you eat
• Feeling depressed, disgusted or guilty after eating
Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorder
If you or someone you love has been dealing with eating disorder symptoms, then they may be dealing with one of 3 eating disorders.
Here are the signs and symptoms of eating disorders;
Change in Eating Habits
Maybe you or your loved ones has avoided attending social gatherings because of the food served there. Or you make excuses and try to eat alone without any company. If so, this might be one of the signs of eating disorder.
Immaculate Planning on Food Consumption
Have you started calorie counting every item of food you consume? Maybe you have begun collecting recipes if you have had no prior interest in cooking? Perhaps you are always serving food to others but not eating any of it yourself? Or, if your food planning doesn’t go as planned, do you experience negative emotions? These are all symptoms of eating disorders.
Emotions Regarding Food
Has food become your coping mechanism? Or do you feel guilty right after eating? Perhaps you have the habit of rating your day according to how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you ate. If yes, this might be another sign you are suffering from one of the types of eating disorder.
Combination of Multiple Common Symptoms
Having a set calorie intake (which is too low), purging, diet pills, laxatives, binge eating, emotional eating, overeating, using stimulants to have a control on the appetite, excessive water drinking to feel full, too much exercise, or a combination of these symptoms might indicate an eating disorder.
Notable Physical Changes
Extreme changes in weight and body shape, tiredness or fatigue that does not go away after sleeping, increase or decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and other lab abnormalities might be an indication of an eating disorder.
Remember, an eating disorder is a type of mental illness. It requires the patient to seek counseling or psychotherapy. If you think you or your loved one is suffering from the eating disorder symptoms mentioned above, then reach out for help. With proper treatment and therapy, this disorder is curable, and the patient will soon be on the road to recovery.
Effects of Eating Disorder
Common effects of Eating Disorders are:
Restricting food and/or purging by vomiting interferes with normal stomach emptying and the digestion of nutrients, which can lead to:
- Stomach pain and bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood sugar fluctuations
- Bacterial infections
- Feeling full after eating only small amounts of food
Purging by vomiting or laxatives depletes the body of important chemicals called electrolytes. Electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, chloride, and calcium conducts electrical and chemical signals in the brain and body. The imbalance in electrolyte levels can lead to seizures and muscle cramps.
Low calories and fat consumption can cause dry skin, and hair to become brittle and fall out.
Do I Have an Eating Disorder? | Eating Disorder Diagnosis
Eating disorder is diagnosed by physical and psychological evaluation by doctors. They make sure that all criteria mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is met in the evaluation.
To rule out all the signs of eating disorder, the doctor will examine body weight, height, vital signs, skin and hair for dryness, and look for brittle nails.
As an eating disorder can affect vital organs and damage the body, doctors also run lab tests such as blood count, liver, kidney, and thyroid function tests.
A psychological evaluation by the doctor is also important. The purpose of this is to understand the subject's attitude toward food and eating. Based on the evaluation, a treatment plan is provided for proper nutrition and good eating habits.
Treatment for Eating Disorder
Treatment for eating disorder involves medical care and psychological treatment.
Starvation, vomiting or laxative use can lead to serious medical complications such as dehydration, low blood glucose levels, liver and kidney problems, or an extremely slow or irregular heartbeat. Doctors track the body's health by arranging the usual tests (blood count, liver, kidney tests, etc.) to minimize the risk of serious or life-threatening problems.
The primary psychological treatment to help people with eating disorders include:
The goal of this therapy is to involve all the family members to work together as a team to manage the patient's behavior and eating habits.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
This therapy focuses on the patient's negative thoughts and helps convert them to positive ones.
The interpersonal therapy helps in finding the relationship between when and how the symptoms of eating disorder started, and the problems a patient is having in interpersonal relationships.
Natural Remedies for Treating Eating Disorder | Eating Disorder Alternative Treatment
Here are some self-help tips for naturally treating eating disorders:
Tip 1: Establish a healthy relationship with food
Say no to dieting
When you limit your food intake, you are more likely to become preoccupied. So, the focus should be to eat more nutritious food that will energize and make the body strong.
Listen to your body
People with an eating disorder ignore their body's hunger and fullness signals. The focus should be to understand the signals and eat as per your physiological needs, not your emotions.
Tip 2: Accept and love yourself
Stop body checking. The goal is to accept yourself. This shouldn’t depend on a number on a scale or a perceived flaw you think you see in the mirror.
Tip 3: Prevent Relapse
Writing in a daily journal can help you keep track of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. If you notice that you’re slipping back into negative patterns, take action immediately.
Tip 4: Relax using deep breathing
This will help you stay calm and focused. This basic technique will help you release your stress anytime.
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- Place your one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest.
- Now take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. The chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pout lips as if you were whistling, and feel the hand pushing all the air out.
- Practice this for 3-10 times. Take your time with each breath.
- Observe how you feel after the exercise.
Blogs About Eating Disorder | Expert Advice
Explaining Eating Disorders: Bulimia vs. Anorexia vs. Binge Eating
Do you feel an urge to consume a lot or very little food? Maybe you’re concerned about the way you look?
Learn all you need to know about anorexia and related eating disorders.
Do you find yourself suddenly wanting to eat an exorbitant amount of food usually when you’re depressed, stressed or anxious?