Why Professionals Can Fuel An Eating Disorder

contemplative-woman

When working with my clients, I am always surprised by how many eating disorder professionals they’ve interacted with in the past have come out with, what I think are completely unprofessional and shocking comments.

Remarks like:

  • “You don’t look like you’ve got an eating disorder”
  • “I’ve seen worse than you”
  • “But you look like you eat”

I cannot believe that someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable and wants to help can say something so unhelpful.  It amazes me!  But then again, the same thing has happened to me.

After reaching out to my GP the first time I had anorexia, whilst struggling to fight, I developed bulimia.  I was eating and I restored some weight.  So everyone thought I was OK, even though inside I was screaming.  But when I later started restricting and I weighed less than before, I visited the GP again.  He told me he wasn’t going to refer me.  He said I’d sorted myself out before and I could do it again.  How did he know this?  How did he know what was going on in my head?  He’d judged me on how he’d seen me look physically.  But eating disorders are nothing to do with what we look like!!  Eating disorders are all about what goes on in our head.  How we feel about ourselves.  How we think that restricting will keep us safe and in control.

A couple of years ago I went for a routine health check at my doctor’s surgery, and because I no longer weigh myself (that number does not define me!) I told the nurse that I didn’t want to know my BMI and she said that was fine.  I had to go back two weeks later to get the results.  I saw another nurse this time and she started to go through everything with me.  The next thing I know she’s telling me my BMI!! I was gobsmacked and asked how she knew because I didn’t get weighed at the first appointment.  She breezily said that they had used my weight from a previous pill check (I step on the scales backwards) to calculate the BMI.  Shocked and slightly emotional, I explained that I hadn’t wanted to know, that I’d had anorexia and I’d made the choice to not know my weight.  She looked at me and casually said “Oh well, you know now”.

doctor

Luckily I had recovered by this point and had the tools to help relieve my anger about her attitude.  But I couldn’t help thinking, what if I hadn’t fully recovered and this had triggered me?

There are so many professionals doing great things and helping lots of people but it seems that there seems to be a lack in fundamental training in some.  I don’t expect GPs or nurses to be experts.  I don’t expect professionals to be emotional when dealing with patients.  I understand that they must deal with hundreds of people like me, but just because I am number 947 that they’ve seen, doesn’t mean their attitude towards me should be any different to the first person they ever saw.  I am not a number, I am me, and I deserve respect and an understanding attitude.  That’s what each and every one of my clients receive.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, and want help from someone who treats you with respect, understanding and supports you every step of the way, book a call with me today to discuss if I can help you.

 

Are The Introduction of Calorie Measurements on Menus Helpful or Triggering?

calories on menu.png

With the introduction of calorie measurements on more and more menus in restaurants and takeaways, I can’t help but wonder whether this is good or bad?

Now classifying as either all good or all bad I know, is very black and white thinking.  But when I struggled with anorexia, that’s what foods were.  They were either good or bad.  No middle ground.  No in between.  They were either safe or not safe.

So will introducing calories into menus make you start counting calories about everything you eat, and will you stop eating the things you love because they are more calories than you originally thought?  This might initially sound helpful, but once you start labelling food in terms of good or bad, once you decide that you’re only going to eat safe, good, healthy foods that have fewer calories, you start to deprive yourself.

Once this happens, you will, sooner or later, end up craving that food type.  And at first, your will power may be strong.  But after time, your resolve starts to fade as the deprivation continues until  eventually you press the “Screw It” button and succumb.  The problem is, that it usually results in eating far more than you normally would so you are then left feeling guilty.  So what happens next?

You resolve to be good this time and try again.  And this pattern continues.  This is typical Yo Yo dieting or disordered eating.  And if things carry on, who knows you could develop a full blown eating disorder, going through cycles of restricting and binging.

So am I saying that introducing calorie measurements on menus could trigger an eating disorder?  Not at all.

People who develop eating disorders are using food to stay in control of their life, they need a coping mechanism, and food is it.

A person who doesn’t require food to be their ‘crutch’ is not likely to be triggered.  For them, providing calorie content will provide awareness which then enables them to make more informed choices.  The measurement is providing guidance to someone who maybe looking to be a little healthier.

But what if you already are on a diet or you have an eating disorder?  Then chances are you will already know exactly what the calorie content is of every item on the menu, although the measurement may provide an element of safety in that it confirms your knowledge.  However, please be aware that the figures given are very approximate and particularly with processed foods in supermarkets, the amount of calories stated can be out by as much as 30%.

For a more healthier attitude towards eating, I believe it’s far better to follow these rules (Paul McKenna, I Can Make You Thin):

  1. Eat when you’re hungry
  2. Stop when you’re full
  3. Listen to what your body needs
  4. Enjoy every mouthful

When you have an eating disorder the first two rules are subjective because your sensors which tell you when you’re hungry and full are distorted so it may take a while for your body to get back into a natural pattern.  But it is very possible.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can feel more relaxed and let go of the guilt around eating and food, book a call with me now.

Top 3 Tips for Anorexia Recovery: Tip #3

Tip #3: Learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

It is an extremely simple yet effective technique that helped transform my life.

I worked with a professional, to deal with the negative beliefs I had about myself ie. not worthy, not special, second best, unattractive, fat, and many more; plus all the memories from past events that would still bother me when I thought of them. These negative beliefs and past events were the reason for my negative mindset, why I beat myself up so much, why I loathed myself, why I was tortured by my eating disorder.

I also used it as a self help technique to help me the feelings of guilt, fear and anxiety I faced on a daily basis.

Although EFT is an alternative method of helping, and may sound a little strange to some people, it has been proved by science as a way of retraining the brain and because it works with our subconscious rather than just the conscious mind, has showed it can be more effective than traditional talking therapies.

And for those who have painful memories that they’d rather not re-visit, there are extremely gentle methods that can be used which allows you to deal with these memories without reliving the pain.

EFT has turned my life around and has given me a tool that I can use for life. It’s effect on me has been so amazing that I qualified as a practitioner and now use it to help others to transform their lives. The best thing about EFT when working with people with eating disorders is that I don’t focus on food, weight or eating. I just focus on getting rid of your negative emotions. Because when there is no fear or guilt attached to food, for example, it is simply food … and you can feel relaxed.

I encourage everybody to learn EFT. Why not start today?

Top 3 Tips for Anorexia Recovery: Tip #2

Tip #2: Focus On The Facts

Your mind is being starved, your thoughts are distorted, you cannot see the truth because your emotions are clouding your judgment. All the fear, guilt, frustration, worry is consuming you.

Often when we aren’t given the full story we’ll fill the gaps in ourselves. For example, if we go into a shop and the sales assistant looks at us and gives us a half smile. How would that feel? Would you think she was being friendly? Or would you interpret it to mean that she feels sorry for you, you won’t find anything that looks nice on you in this shop, and you may as well turn around now?

I know this because that’s exactly what I did.

But instead of letting yourself think these things, try this exercise:

Imagine you’re in a courtroom and you’re presenting evidence to the judge. You’ve told the court that you went into the shop and that the sales assistant looked at you and smiled, but that you were sure she was being patronising. What would the judge say? Where is your evidence? Where are the facts to prove this is true? You haven’t got any, have you? It’s only your opinion. The judge would throw the case out of court. And so should you.

If you’re anything like me, I didn’t like myself at all and would always beat myself up. It’s no wonder that I imagined people were thinking hateful things about me, because that’s what I was doing. I’d think that people were looking at me because I looked so awful.

But if you try and focus on the facts, rather than your current opinion of yourself, with continual practice, it’ll help to change the way you think and feel about yourself.

And if you feel better about yourself, it’ll be easier to let go of your eating disorder.