Eating is a necessary and natural part of our lives. We nourish our bodies with the food that we take in, and it is meant to be a pleasurable and satisfying experience. We also associate eating with a variety of special occasions, and the food is typically a main attraction in many, if not most events that we attend. So why does food become a source of angst and conflict for many people? With an eating disorder, it is rather like the suffering individual is caught up in a war with his or her own body. The conflict plays out both internally (emotionally) and externally (physically). The common forms that eating disorders take include anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating. Different people may display different patterns or individual styles when it comes to these disorders, and some people have a combination of the different manifestations.
How does an eating disorder develop, and why–these are the central questions that begin to point to a way out. In many of those who struggle with issues of weight and control over eating, poor self-esteem is central to the problem. Somewhere along the way, self-esteem gets inextricably bound to one’s weight. “Success” in controlling one’s weight is likely perceived as a measure of one’s inherent worth. On the flip side, “failure” in this regard usually results in self-recrimination and feelings of guilt or shame. Unfortunately, our society fosters these attitudes and thereby lends strength to these tendencies. For those who binge or compulsively overeat, food is often used as a way of both avoiding and comforting oneself when having negative feelings (“emotional eating”). Also, it is used to companion oneself when lonely or bored. Some people find that having a weight problem serves the purpose of keeping other people from getting too close. Those who starve themselves or go to extreme lengths to keep weight down strive to meet their perfectionistic standards for body image, which may be quite distorted (severely underweight).
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, the first step is acknowledging the problem and realizing that help is available. Therapy can help you to get to the root of the problem, to begin healing, and to reach your personal goals.
Cognitive Therapy Associates (CTA) is a network of experienced therapists (licensed clinical psychologists and social workers) across Manhattan, Westchester and Long Island. We will match you with a therapist who can help you to effectively manage and resolve issues related to an eating disorder. To inquire about an appointment, please call us at (212) 258-2577.
Keywords: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, anorexic, bulemic, symptoms and treatment, binge eating, compulsive overeating, emotional eating, food addiction, help and information.