Eating Disorder Treatment

 


 

 Welcome to Freedom from Food and well done for making it here. You are in safe hands.

 

At Freedom from Food, all of the practitioners and referral partners have specific experience and qualifications in the treatment of eating disorders. What this means is that upon maknig contact, you will be in the hands of someone who has a very good understanding of what predisposes a person to developing an eating disorder, what perpetuates eating disorders, and most importantly, what helps a person to recover and acts as protective factors against relapse.

Freedom from Food offers treatment for all people on the spectrum of disordered eating. Whether you have been medically diagnosed with an eating disorder, or you have struggled with disordered eating, yo-yo dieting or body image issues for a short or long period of time; rest assured that you will be offered treatment that will be right for you, at whatever stage you are at. Freedom from Food offers treatment for the following:

 

Anorexia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Binge Eating Disorder

Orthorexia

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

Body image dissatisfaction or weight concerns

Body Dysmorphia

Muscle Dysmorphia

Compulsive exercise behaviours

 

At Freedom from Food, I take great care to practice in a non-judgemental, inclusive and compassionate way, treating all people with the respect and dignity that they deserve, irrespective of health status, weight or size. I ensure that all practitioners and referral partners practice with a non-diet approach, which is aligned with the Health At Every Size movement. What this means is that your weight, shape or size will never be a focus of treatment. Rather, we focus on the creation of healthy habits and skills which support mental, emotional and physical health.

Getting Started

Upon making contact, you will be invited to attend a free initial 30-minute consultation (either in person, phone or skype/zoom). In this consultation, I will get to know a little more about you and your history, in order to ascertain your needs and what will likely be the best plan for treatment going forward.

After your initial consultation, you will be offered a treatment plan which will consist of individual sessions of counselling and hypnotherapy. Depending on your needs, you may also be offered one of the online programs as well as the chance to participate in a group therapy sessions, when they are running, with access to the online community for support. Please note that whilst a treatment plan will initially be designed for you, this will be subject to change, depending on your progression through recovery.

In the presence of suspected malnutrition, very low body weight or erratic eating or purging behaviours, you may be asked throughout the treatment process to visit a doctor and permit contact between the doctor and therapist. This is so that I am able to adhere to an adequate level of duty of care, and maintain an ongoing treatment process that is outside of an in-patient treatment setting.

If you are underage, a parent or guardian may be required to be present for part, but not all of the session. At any stage, you are welcome to bring along a loved one for support if you need.

 

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What is an eating disorder? Find out more

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious mental illness, characterised by preoccupation with dieting and weight loss behaviours. These behaviours often result in dramatic weight loss, malnutrition and sometimes disordered functioning in other areas of life.

Psychological, biological, social and cultural factors are some of the considerations involved when assessing a person’s predisposition to developing anorexia. Someone who develops anorexia may initially use dieting strategies to alter their body weight, which gradually develops in to a coping strategy to deal with difficult life circumstances or emotions.

For a person suffering from Anorexia, restricting food and focusing on weight can feel like a way of regaining control, in areas of life that feel out of control. Body image can come to define the entire sense of self-worth and it may be a way of expressing or even denying emotions.

Whilst many people may believe that anorexia is only a female or women’s diagnosis; there are many men that suffer from anorexia as well.

A diagnosis of atypical anorexia may be made when some or all of the behaviours of anorexia such as dieting, restriction or compulsive exercise are present, however the persons weight is not in the stereotypically low range.

Despite the fact that the person may appear to be in a healthy weight range; severe restriction and preoccupation with dieting may indicate the presence of atypical anorexia and be considered just as serious as someone who presents with a very low weight.

There has been recent research suggesting that atypical anorexia may be more common than ‘typical’ anorexia, and that due to a lack of recognition or understanding of the condition, many people may not be accessing or offered appropriate treatment.

Bulimia nervosa is a condition categorised by repeated episodes of large quantities of food, following by purging in order to ‘compensate’ for the intake.

For a person suffering from Bulimia, it is often previous dieting behaviour which triggers the onset of the binge and purge cycle. The more strict and rigid the diet, the more likely it may be that a person becomes disproportionately focused on food. This is because when a person starves or deprives their body of adequate nutrition, the body responds with powerful cravings as its way of asking for needed nutrition. The person may engage in a ‘binge’ episode to satisfy these cravings, with purging seen as a way to in turn control weight gain.

Everyone who develops Bulimia Nervosa experiences the condition differently. Some may experience the binge and purge on an occasional or intermittent basis. Some may practice more frequently such as weekly or even daily. For others, the behaviour may have evolved in to being present with almost every meal that is taken.

As with Anorexia Nervosa, there are powerful psychological, biological, social and cultural factors which contribute to the onset of this illness. A person who presents with Bulimia may often have an all-or-nothing mind-set; feeling that even the most minor diet ‘slip-up’ is a total failure. They may be using food as a way to determine their self-worth. After having just one square of chocolate, they may think, “I’ve already blown it, so I may as well eat as much as I can”, after which point it turns in to a binge and then a purge.

For a person who is suffering from Bulimia, the relief that bingeing brings is short lived. Soon after, guilt and self-loathing may set in, and thoughts may turn to purging in order to “wipe the slate clean”. It is often the purge which becomes the addictive and perpetuating element of the disorder, as it is the purge which can make a person feel that they can take back some control.

Binge eating disorder is the newest of the eating disorders to be officially classified in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as an eating disorder. Whilst many of us may occasionally over-indulge (who hasn’t experienced a tinge regret at the end of Christmas Day?), Binge eating disorder is a much more severe and acute experience of this.

Large amounts of food will be consumed in a short space of time, accompanied by a sense of a loss of control. Some people say that they experience an almost dissociative sensation of ‘blacking-out’, during the binge, after which they regain awareness of what has happened and come to be full of regret and shame. Binge sessions may occur on a weekly or even daily basis and will often result in significant weight gain. A sufferer will feel the same amount of guilt and self-loathing as would a sufferer of Bulimia; however, they do not engage in compensatory behaviours by purging or fasting in any way.

When weight is gained, this may affect the person’s sense of self-worth and perpetuate the binge cycle. It is important to note however, that NOT all obesity is related to an eating disorder.

As with any eating disorder, there is a high incidence of depression and or anxiety that often coexists alongside Binge eating disorder.

Eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia are expressed in symptoms such as extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviours surrounding weight and food. They can result in very damaging consequences to health and can even be life-threatening.

For this reason, there are strict classifications around diagnosis of a person with an eating disorder. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 eating disorders which are ‘of clinical significance’ do not conform to the exact definition of Anorexia (typical or atypical), Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder.

For everything that cannot be strictly classified as Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder, a category of eating disorders known as OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) exists.

These serious eating disorders can include a combination of characteristics or symptoms typical of Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge eating disorder but may not meet all of the criteria for diagnosis. Conditions such as orthorexia (a dysfunctional or disruptive obsession to only eat ‘healthy’ organic foods or foods of a certain food group, for example) and night eating disorder (binge eating only through the night) would fall into the OSFED category.

A sufferer of an eating disorder which falls into the OSFED category will often experience high levels of anxiety or depression, as well as low levels of self-esteem and an unhealthy preoccupation with body image as a way to increase self-worth.

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