What is an Eating Disorder?

Counselling & Hypnotherapy for Eating Disorders in Reading, Berkshire

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating  disorder is characterised by extreme emotional and behavioural responses to food, weight and body shape, which typically lead to negative and often self-destructive weight control behaviours such as self induced vomiting, laxative and diuretic abuse, diet pills, self-harming, alcohol/drugs/substance abuse, excessive dieting and vigorous exercise, strict dietary rules such as skipping meals, fasting etc.

As a result, these disturbed and often dangerous weight control behaviours can be devastating for the sufferer, as they disrupt their physical, emotional and psychological functioning. Some of the negative effects of eating disorders include dramatic changes in personality, social withdrawal, anxiety, fatigue, apathy, depression, obsessive behaviour, distorted body image, and extreme preoccupation with food, weight and body shape.

There are also medical complications including tooth decay, hair loss, hormone imbalance and deficiency, loss of bone density, weight gain, insulin resistance; and in some of the more serious cases, the medical consequences include heart problems and even death.

The negative attitude towards food and the pattern of  emotional, chaotic, and controlled eating behaviour – characteristic of eating disorders – can be viewed as a  learned response to emotional and stressful situations; essentially it’s a survival or coping mechanism. Just as an alcoholic uses alcohol to deal with stress, anxiety or depression, a person suffering from an eating disorder uses eating, purging and restricting food as a way of coping with painful situations, events, feelings, and  pressures of life.  Typically,  eating disorder sufferers cannot cope or give name to their emotions, and often misinterpret them as “feeling fat”, “feeling ugly, worthless or not good enough” etc.

The most common types of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa (restriction of food), Bulimia Nervosa (binge/purge cycle), and Binge Eating Disorder (compulsive overeating).  Although each type of eating disorder has its own unique characteristics and symptoms, (e.g. the Anorexic is not the same as an overweight individual suffering from binge eating disorder),  there is one common thread which binds them all together; namely, they all label their negative experiences and feelings as “feeling fat”, and they all value food restraint very highly, even if they are unable or fail to follow their own strict dietary rules or standards of behaviour.

Back to top

What causes an eating disorder?

It is unlikely that eating disorders result from a single cause or event; they arise out of a combination of genetic, cultural,  familial,  psychological factors which  influence the individual over time and predispose their “shape and weight dissatisfaction”. These may include family relationships & parental issues; neglect in early years; problems with friends;  problems at work, school or university including teasing or bullying; low self-esteem, lack of assertion and confidence; weight gain in puberty; personality and developmental issues; the death of someone special; emotional and sexual abuse, trauma (PTSD) etc.  Any major life changes e.g. divorce, death of a loved one, may trigger an eating disorder in some individuals, and even some occupations (such as dancers, models, chefs, actors) have been known to increase the risk of an eating disorder such as anorexia and bulimia.

All of these factors can contribute to an individual’s vulnerability to developing an eating disorder, but do not in any way mean that everyone who has been exposed to the same or similar set of circumstances will necessarily develop an unhealthy relationship with food. For more details about help for specific eating disorders please follow the links here: Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder.

Back to top

How can hypnosis & hypnotherapy help you overcome an Eating Disorder?

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy –  together with techniques in Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) & Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT),  and Coaching – are  highly effective therapeutic methods  which can  help you take control of your emotional and chaotic eating, reduce your cravings, reprogramme  any destructive behaviours, and release the underlying thoughts, feelings and issues that are associated with an eating disorder including: low self esteem, feelings of worthlessness, identity concerns, lack of purpose, feelings of loss of control, communication problems, poor body image, stressful & unhealthy lifestyle, fat-thin conflict, depression and low moods, poor assertion, and an overarching inability to cope with emotions.

My specialist training in Eating Disorders together with the various therapeutic techniques that I use, will allow you to finally understand the real cause behind your need to eat for emotional  reasons, better known as comfort eating, or your need to restrict and control your intake of food; you’ll progressively begin to identify the different triggers and patterns in your life that continue to contribute and maintain your symptoms, as well as your preoccupation with food, eating  and body shape.

Here are some of the ways you can benefit from Hypnotherapy treatment for eating disorders:

  • Discover the psychological origins of your behaviours
  • Explore the emotional aspects of your urge to overeat or restrict your food
  • Learn new coping skills that allow you to satisfy your emotional needs without turning to food
  • Improve your self-esteem, confidence, and self-image e.g. feel better about yourself and your body
  • Take back control of your lifestyle and nutrition
  • Reconnect with the natural rhythms of your mind and body
  • Reduce stress and anxiety with relaxation techniques –  including  Hypnosis & EFT
Back to top

Who can be helped?

Anyone who genuinely wants to be helped and is ready, willing and able to make the necessary behavioural changes can reap the benefits of therapy.  All that’s needed is a genuine desire to explore the root cause of  your symptoms, learn new coping skills including  self-care, relaxation skills & “mindful eating”,  as well as the motivation to move beyond your obstacles and set yourself free. For more details about help for specific eating disorders please follow the links here:  Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder.

If your symptoms do not threaten your health and you have the desire to change, then please contact me to arrange a free confidential consultation and find out how you can achieve positive lifelong change.

Back to top

Do you need to see a doctor or health professional?

If the intensity or frequency of vomiting or purging is severe (e.g. on a daily basis after every meal),  or the degree of weight loss is rapid and dramatic (e.g. a BMI of less than 17),  or on the flip side if your BMI is over 40 – which is considered to be in the morbidly obese zone – you are considered to be in the danger zone physically, and therefore it is essential that you seek medical assistance from your General Practitioner or medical professional to ensure long term recovery.   It’s important to point out that a severe case of bulimia can be permanently damaging to long-term health, and a severe case of anorexia has the potential to be fatal. For more details about help for specific eating disorders please follow the links here:  Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder.

Furthermore, if anyone around you has recently noticed a deterioration in your physical health and has expressed serious concerns for your well-being, then it is essential that you visit your doctor or medical practitioner. Such severe eating disorders need specialist medical help and supervision. It is very difficult to get better on your own if you have an eating disorder. Willpower alone is not enough. Doctors can assess your physical condition and refer you to the relevant help available.

In such health and life threatening circumstances, I can only offer you my support as part of and alongside your existing medical treatment, and only with the approval of your doctor or medical team.

If your symptoms do not threaten your health and you have the desire to change, then please contact me to arrange an initial confidential consultation and find out how you can achieve positive lifelong change.

Back to top

Please follow the links below for more details about individual eating disorders:

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your relationship with food, weight or body image/shape

Please call me on 0118 947 6134 or 07846 989439
to book an Initial Consultation

Alternatively, send me an email and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can.

All enquiries are in the strictest confidence with the highest discretion.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Quantum Leap Therapy Membership Logos