• Eating Disorders

  • Eating Disorders Image

    Experiencing difficulties in the relationship with your body and eating can have significant implications for your happiness, health, relationships and general day to day functioning.  These difficulties can take many different forms. It is estimated that approximately 4% of the Australian population will experience symptoms consistent with an eating disorder at any given time. 

    Eating Disorders fall into three main types;

    Anorexia Nervosa – is a serious condition which is characterised by low body weight, obsessive fear of gaining weight, distorted body image and a drive for thinness which in most cases consists of depriving the body of food and excessive strategies to compensate after eating (usually in the form of exercise or purging) (source Eating Disorders Victoria). 

    Bulimia Nervosa - is characterised by regular episodes of binge-eating where a person will eat abnormally large quantities of food in a short amount of time.  These episodes often feel out of control, lead to shame, guilt, low mood and anxiety and in some cases will trigger compensatory behaviours such as vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise or restricting food intake.  Due often to feelings of shame, the illness can remain hidden for a long period before the person seeks help despite it impacting on the persons wellbeing (source Eating Disorders Victoria).

    Binge eating disorder – has overlapping features with Bulimia Nervosa in that it is characterised by regular episodes of eating an excessive amount of food when not hungry and this experience feels out of control. People also experience feelings of shame, guilt, disgust, disappointment and anxiety and often the binge eating is a way of coping with difficult feelings or events in their lives. Unlike Bulimia Nervosa there is an absence of purging behaviours following the binge, however other compensatory measures, such as dieting, are often also a part of the person’s life. 

    For many people, however, difficulties with body image and disordered eating may not have developed into an eating disorder or impact on their ability to go to work, be in a relationship, or do things that they enjoy. They may, however, still be there in the background, making them question what they eat; creating feelings of guilt for eating certain foods; being vigilant in monitoring their weight and any changes in their body or the way their clothes feel; and assessing their own appearance in comparison to others. All of these difficulties are significant and can impact on one's mood and self-confidence.  

    At Open Horizons Psychology, we offer counselling to provide support and strategies to bring flexibility and enjoyment back in to eating again and to help re-evaluate the way you look at your body. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders is a commonly used treatment approach for disordered eating and has the flexibility to be adapted to a wide range of people struggling with difficulties with body image and eating. It focuses on developing more regular eating patterns; reducing binge eating; developing other strategies for managing difficult thoughts and feelings; exploring the origins and development of your body image and self-esteem; and working on strategies to manage body checking; comparison with others; and negative thoughts about body, weight, shape and appearance.