Treating Disordered Eating
Treating disordered eating will ultimately be the most successful if an individual recognises why (s)he has fallen into disordered eating habits. Some disordered eaters will have begun their habits in childhood, some as a way to diet and lose weight, some as coping mechanisms against emotional stress and some for other reasons entirely. In understanding why they began these patterns, and how these patterns serve them now, individuals will have a better chance of understanding how best to overcome them. Often working with professionals such as dietitians, nutritionists, counsellors and therapists is very helpful in treating disordered eating, and having support from loved ones can be very important as well.
Understanding Disordered EatingDisordered eating will be different from everyone who experiences. Even if the behaviours and eating habits are the same, they will likely have been started for different reasons or serve different purposes in every disordered eater's life. Disordered eaters will need to be honest with themselves about why they began these habits and why they continue them. Often there is an emotional issue at the core of these eating habits, such as a negative body image that has resulted in attempts at dieting or a desire for control that has led to strict food rules. Many of these emotional issues can be similar to those that have led to eating disorders. There may also be underlying mental health or health issues that contribute to disordered eating. For example, strict food rules could be the result of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) while sorting food by texture could be a sign of Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). Disordered eating that results from another condition may be hard to explain, so disordered eaters who truly can not understand why they have the food habits that they do should consider seeking professional help to learn more about their behaviours.
Working with ProfessionalsMany disordered eaters will find that working with professionals can help them treat and overcome their eating patterns. GPs, dietitians, nutritionists, counsellors and therapists can all play a role in the treatment of disordered eating. Some disordered eaters may visit one professional while others may amass a team of professionals to begin treating them. There is no one recognised treatment or cure for disordered eating. Rather, disordered eaters will need to explore their own behaviours and plan how best to move beyond them. This can be traumatic for people who have lived for years, maybe even their whole life, relying on certain food rules to get them through each day. Disordered eaters who find that their patterns are linked to another condition may then treat the condition first in order to see if the disordered eating is alleviated.
Having Support from Loved OnesHaving support from loves ones can make a big difference in the success of any given treatment plan for disordered eating. However, in order to have support from their friends and family members, disordered eaters might recognise that they need to share the details of their behaviours and treatment plan so that everyone involved understands the situation as best as possible. Seeking support groups for disordered eaters or loved ones of disordered eaters may also help during treatment, though these groups should be professionally moderated so that everything discussed is appropriate and safe for the group members.
Treating disordered eating is not as easy as simply beginning to relax food rules. Disordered eaters must understand their own eating habits before treatment can begin, and enlisting the support of professionals and loved ones can be a big difference to their success in overcoming disordered eating.