Written by Jim Strauss, L.C.P.C. and Julia Madden Bozarth, L.C.P.C.
Disordered Eating and Changes that Heal
When life seems out-of-control, extreme dieting, binge eating, and emotional stuffing with ‘comfort’ foods sometimes give us a strange sense of control. The problem is that the behavior we use for that sense of control can take on a life of its own and lead to serious eating disorders, obesity and health problems, or trigger depression and anxiety disorders. Eating behaviors can become as addictive as alcohol or pain medication. But, unlike alcohol or pain meds, total abstinence is not an option with food. We must eat to live. We all have eating habits. The good news is that habits can be changed. Better yet, eating habits can be changed in Bloomington-Normal with the help of counselors specializing in eating-disorders at Collaborative Solutions Institute also known as CSI.
Have you ever felt like the number on your scale runs your life? Do you judge your personal sense of success by what you weigh? Remember, numbers on a scale are not a value judgment. Disordered eating as we prefer to think of it may include rigid dieting, extreme exercise regimes, starvation/malnutrition and binge/purging behaviors, emotional-eating and comfort food over-eating. At CSI, we see the “big picture.” Many people feel badly about themselves and use food to control intense feelings of low self-esteem, anger, shame, loneliness, sadness, frustration, anxiety, depression and feelings of being overwhelmed.
Let’s face it; issues of weight can be overwhelming and lead to unhealthy motivations. Here at CSI, we understand the emotional needs that disordered eating satisfy. We also understand that motivation to change can fluctuate dramatically based upon the intensity of present stressors and depths of past wounds. It isn’t uncommon for us to see some people struggle with a combination of unhealthy coping behaviors. Our “big picture” approach evaluates other life-issues such as family of origin history, relationship trauma, and substance use, just to name a few, to guide clients towards changes that heal.
Support Critical to Success
Resistance to take the first step towards treatment and to stick with it is common. Often, it is the family member or trusted friend who is helpful in ensuring that someone who is ill gets the needed care. The following is a brief and accurate screen to help determine if you or someone you know needs help:
- Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
- Have you recently lost more that 15 pounds in a three month period?
- Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
- Would you say that food dominates your life?
Steps Towards Changes that Heal
The good news is that treatment is available for disordered eating. Healthy weight can be restored. The sooner diagnosis and treatment begins the better the outcomes are likely to be.
CSI offers a comprehensive treatment plan for eating disordered clients involving therapy and counseling. We are located at 200 W. Front St., Suite 400A, Bloomington, IL 61701, (309) 828-2860.
*Morgan, J.F., Lacey, J.H., & Luck, A. (2002, April). Validation of the SCOFF questionnaire for case detection of eating disorders in primary care. Paper presented at the International Conference of Eating Disorders of the Academy for Eating Disorders, Boston, MA.