Do the Words Eating Disorder Hinder You?

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You may recall my recent survey in which I requested your help. I asked if you wanted a program to help you stop binge eating.

THANK YOU to all who responded!!! It was immensely valuable and I am hard at work creating the program and adding all the elements you requested!

In one survey response, someone who I will call “Kelly” wrote that she wished there was more structured assistance for those who don’t qualify for an “eating disorder” diagnosis yet still struggle with overeating and body image challenges. She expressed feeling as though this type of concern falls through the cracks in getting the help needed.

Her words compelled me! I have struggled with this very same way of thinking as I work to reach out to others. I also felt heartbroken with the understanding that this belief system is getting in the way of Kelly and others getting help! So I just had to write about it!

You are right, Kelly! We do tend to throw around the words “eating disorder” as meaning a very serious illness such as anorexia and bulimia. I completely agree… seeing it this way leaves many women (and men, for that matter) suffering with the belief that there is no help for them.

I find this myself when I tell people I work with eating disorders. I often feel frustrated by the assumption that I am talking about anorexia or bulimia when I’m really talking about any woman suffering with thinking about food more than she desires and disliking (even hating) her body. These are women that need help too and these are the women I love to help!

So, what do we do about this?

What I try to do is tell people that I can absolutely help you, even if you don’t think you have an eating disorder! I try to tell people that this is an issue that so many women struggle with and it’s a crying shame that we do! I try to call it “disordered eating” hoping that feels more inclusive.

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I see this issue on a continuum. On the left side of the continuum is someone who is anorexic. She primarily and seriously restricts types and amounts of food. She is of very low weight and has serious health dangers. On the other end of the continuum is the woman who primarily binges, nearly never uses any dieting or restricting behaviors.

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Most women are not on either extreme! Most women fall very much in the middle area. They diet, also defined as restricting, trying to control their weight. They binge as a result of that restriction. They purge in many different ways, such as a promise to go back on the diet, exercise, sleeping, self-criticism, and sometimes vomiting (the classic definition for purge), as well as many other ways to “get rid of the binge.” All of these behaviors lead these women to dislike and even hate their bodies and feel very out of control, especially over time.

These are the women I primarily work with!

They may not qualify for the DSM diagnosis of an eating disorder and I don’t really care. What I care about is can I help them improve how they feel about food and their body. That’s what I strive to do.

When I had disordered eating and body image issues, I also wouldn’t have qualified for the diagnosis of eating disorder but that didn’t mean I didn’t have problems that seriously got in the way of my life and overall happiness. Getting help and dealing with these concerns greatly improved my life and how I feel about myself!

My goal and passion is to help as many women as I can to heal their relationship with food.  It doesn’t matter to me where you are on the continuum. If you want help, I can help. I design my programs specifically to help the middle continuum woman. Of course, I also support those on the further ends of the continuum too and I’m happy I’m able to do so. No woman should suffer with these issues!

So, Kelly (and every woman), my encouragement to you is this… ask for help. Help is out there! You don’t need to have an “eating disorder” to get help. Find someone you like and trust and then share what you’re feeling. Ask if they can help you, right where you’re at.  And if you want my help, I’m there for you! Just let me know!

In fact, if you’re in the Portland area, are serious about and ready for the next level of healing your relationship with food and your body image, I invite you to call or email me for a “Make Every Meal an Act of Self Love and Acceptance” Breakthrough Session

I only do 6 of these each month, so call or email me now. You can also sign up on my online calendar by clicking this link. I look forward to helping you make peace with food and your body!

I would love to hear what you think of this! Have you struggled to find the help you need? Do you struggle with feeling like you don’t quite fit with the idea of having an eating disorder and this gets in your way? Do you have suggestions on how I can help with this? Please post your comments below!

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