Do you or someone you know having an eating disorder? If you answered, “yes” then seeking help and taking steps to recover is essential. To help understand what an eating disorder typically stems from and how someone can overcome an eating disorder, I have interviewed psychotherapist Stacy Watkins, LPC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Austin, TX. I specialize in helping adolescent and adult men and women improve their relationship with their body and with food through individual and group therapy. Often, I work with the families of my clients when it is beneficial to the growth of my client. I love working with my clients and feel honored to do this work with them. The amount of courage and vulnerability these individuals express in therapy is remarkable. It takes a lot of bravery to talk about the way you misuse food and how much you hate your body.”
Where does an eating disorder typically stem from?
“There seem to be several factors that make people more susceptible to developing an eating disorder. One factor is family influences, such as how food was used in the family, what types of messages were given about body image and/or food, and how parents cared for their own emotional needs, as well as those of the child. Social pressures to look a certain way to fit in or be accepted also seem to contribute. Eating disorders can also be triggered by a stressful or traumatic event. Regardless of the specific cause or causes, eating disorders ultimately develop when people are struggling to put their thoughts, feelings, and needs into words. Controlling their body size and the food they eat become a way to manage feelings they have and to cope with difficult issues and emotions.”
What type of impact can an eating disorder have on someone?
“The type of impact an eating disorder can have is extensive. Depending on the severity, it can destroy relationships, ruin careers, and even kill. Imagine the life of a woman with anorexia nervosa. From the moment she wakes up, she is thinking about food — what she will eat, how many calories she will eat and then need to burn off, how fat she is, etc. She takes the stairs when she can so that she burns more calories. She skips meals, avoids eating around others and is terrified to be in a social situation with food. She looses friends because she is rigid in her schedule and is more committed to her eating disorder than to her friends. Family gets frustrated with her picky eating and refusal to take better care of herself. All the while, the lack of nutrition she is getting is physically destroying her body. It is literally hard for her to have full, complete, rational thoughts. The eating disorder runs her life and can completely isolate her from others.”
What are some tips for overcoming an eating disorder?
“To anyone struggling with an eating disorder, I would tell them that they aren’t alone and that there is hope for getting better. Eating disorders get a lot of their power in their secrecy. Those with an eating disorder can go to great lengths to hide their disordered eating patterns and this behavior keeps them isolated and committed to the eating disorder. Talking about the eating disorder is a huge step towards getting better.
I go very slowly with these individuals. I acknowledge the desire to get better, as well as the fear of losing the eating disorder. For many, the eating disorder is a secret friend who has been helping them deal with their feelings. I spend a lot of time learning why someone has needed this “friend” because it is never as simple as telling someone to simple eat more or to stop throwing up their food.”
Thank you Stacy for doing the interview and giving tips on how someone can overcome an eating disorder. For more information on Stacy Watkins or her work you can check out her website at www.therapyinsession.net.
Recommended Readings:http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5638262/bulimia_nervosa_symptoms_and_treatment.html?cat=70″>Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms and Treatment
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5475464/eating_disorders_questions_and_answers.html?cat=51″>Eating Disorders: Questions and Answers
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5583296/understanding_anorexia_nervosa_an_interview.html?cat=70″>Understanding Anorexia Nervosa