Dr. Monica Vaskey
Still, other individuals use weight and food control to stabilize a chaotic world. Eating disorders are dangerous and hurtful to relationships, bodies, and emotions, regardless of their origins. According to studies conducted by the EDC (Eating Disorders Coalition):
- Around 28.8 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.
- Eating Disorders are defined as unhealthy ways of using food to cope with anxiety and psychological stress.
Common presentations of eating disorders.
Restricting energy intake relative to requirements leads to significantly low body weight and physical health. Intense fear and anxiety of gaining weight or persistent behavior interfere with weight gain, even at a lightweight, or persistent lack of recognizing the seriousness and life-threatening of current low body weight.
Recurrent episodes of binge eating:
- Eating in a discrete period in an amount of food more extensive than most people would eat in a similar period under similar circumstances.
- A lack of control over overeating during the event and displaying behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; diuretics, misuse of laxatives, or other medications; fasting; or excessive exercise.
Binge Eating Disorder
- Eating, in a discrete period, an amount of food more extensive than most people would eat in a similar time under similar circumstances.
- A lack of control over overeating during the event.
The binge-eating occurrences are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than average.
- Eating until the feeling of being uncomfortably full.
- Consuming large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed.
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty afterward.
An obsessive focus on “healthy” eating, avoiding “unhealthy” foods, preoccupation with dietary practices, and rigid nutritional rules.
God’s plan.Eating disorders are not in God’s plan for us. Purging, bingeing, health obsession, and starving means we not understanding that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and it is not God’s desire for us to continue eating disordered thinking or behavior.
The challenge against eating disorders is more than physical; it is spiritual and mental. Letting God’s word transform our thinking is critical. The world looks to conform us to a particular way of thinking and a certain standard of beauty; we must be reconditioned by the Word of God and allow our minds to be transformed.
The Bible assures us of God’s great love for us. We are His creation, His handiwork, made in His image. He loves us and accepts us in Christ regardless of our weight or how we look, or what foods we eat.
We can trust that God is in control and rest in His capable hands. We can use food to nourish our bodies, wanting to care for them to honor God. We can also enjoy the pleasures of food in freedom and with gratitude to God for His good gifts. Whatever prompts our disordered thinking and behaviors, we can take that to God, seeking His truth and trusting that God can heal any pain and overcome any hurt.
The journey to wholeness and health may be long, but the Holy Spirit can break the bondage of eating disorders. Eating disorders need not define followers of Christ; our identity is first in Christ, and He is with us in all our hardships. Whether health and wholeness look like a complete release from the draw of an eating disorder or health care of our bodies through reliance on God, even during the struggle, God is at work in us.
Treatment options for eating disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
(CBT) has successfully treated different conditions and is used for eating disorder recovery. In simplest terms, CBT is talk therapy, and talk therapy can help people quickly identify and learn to cope with life challenges.
This treatment can help with conditions or problems that are based, at least in part, on unhelpful or harmful thinking patterns. Identifying and sharing thoughts about an individual’s issues is a significant part of CBT. This therapy also helps individuals understand the motivation and behavior of other people as well.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) focuses on how some of our emotions will be aroused much quicker than others, and our emotional reactions to food will be much stronger.
Four specific areas of emphasis in DBT:
Mindfulness – Observation and intentional participation
Interpersonal Effectiveness – emphasizes personal relationships and interactions with others.
Distress Tolerance – focuses on accepting and learning to tolerate stressful situations.
Emotion Regulation – identifying and controlling emotions.
These types of eating disorder interventions may be used to treat eating disorders since significate changes or relationships may be the underlying root cause of the problem. The first goal is to improve current relationships in a person’s life.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is for individuals to stop avoiding and denying their inner emotions. People learn to sit with and accept that their feelings are, in some situations, appropriate responses. The goal is for individuals to understand the issues and difficulties in their lives and then commit to changing their current behavior.
Acceptance: This means allowing unpleasant experiences and thoughts to exist or happen without trying to alter or change them. Being Present -means living in the present moment without predicting what will happen next or trying to change the experience.
Self as Context: People can find themselves outside their everyday experiences.
Values: Individuals will live out their values and try to work toward what is important or meaningful to them.
Committed Action: The individual will commit to living their values daily.
Understanding nutrition is essential to treating an eating disorder and is used in conjunction with other types of psychotherapy. Dietitians can help individuals establish and maintain a new relationship with food that is healthy and balanced. Dietitians can teach people how to understand fullness and hunger in ways that will enable them to develop successful and natural eating habits.
Incorporating family members into therapy can help individuals identify problems hindering their progress and encourage the entire family unit to work together to solve them. Family therapy can also help an individual deal with family conflicts and strife that may contribute to an eating disorder.
Expressive Arts Therapy
Psychology combines creative arts therapy to promote growth and healing. The creative arts incorporated into the therapy process include music, dance, theater, and poetry. Individuals may express themselves through poetry, storytelling, or other art forms throughout the therapy process. The therapy is on the creative process and not necessarily based on the final result.
Artistic expression can be used to understand inner feelings and to bring them forth. The theory is that since art comes from an emotional place inside individuals, this is a creative way to bring out emotions that may hinder or harm a person’s success. Creativity becomes the path to understanding and self-discovery.
The eating disorder recovery process should be customized to meet each individual’s needs. Before deciding which type of therapy or a combination of therapy is the best treatment option, individuals will need to find the best treatment center to meet their needs.
Whether a person is physically or mentally exhausted from their eating disorder or not yet ready to move forward, there is the possibility for change and personal growth.
Emotions fluctuate and change rapidly. Our feelings are not unimportant. Still, they are only sometimes accurate in their assessment of situations.
Ways to find spiritual fulfillment.
In the journey of healing, discovery, and recovery, you can re-discover and salvage a sense of purpose from giving and receiving, completeness through fellowship and compassion in relationships, and counting oneself.
- Recollect times when you felt a greater sense of wholeness and solidity.
- Discover ways to introduce a pursuit that gives you more purpose in life.
- Consistently choose and uphold those activities that promote your greater purpose and Fulfillment in life.
- Spirituality in treating eating disorders (ED) people cannot simply leave their spiritual selves at the door when they seek relief from eating problems. Spiritual life is innate to many individuals’ self-understanding and identity.
With a positive correlation between spirituality and psychotherapy, it is vital to make spirituality a significant part of the healing journey.
“Eating Cereal”, Courtesy of Tamas Pap, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Eating Salad”, Courtesy of Nutriciously, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “No Food”, Courtesy of Callum Shaw, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Silhouette Eating”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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