Eating Disorders and Body Image
EATING DISORDER THERAPY
Washington based eating disorder treatment and body image therapy focused on addressing root causes in order to find lasting relief.
What is the Cause of Eating Disorders? What Makes a Good Eating Disorder Treatment?
Struggling with eating disorders can leave you feeling like you are treading water. You may find that you spend most of your time worried about food, counting calories and generally filled with loneliness, low self esteem and emptiness.
On top of all that it’s difficult to talk about eating disorders with people that just don’t understand what you are going through. We understand. Our eating disorder specialists can help.
You may be wondering, is it possible to enjoy food again? Can I regain control over my life? Yes. We know that it’s possible, because we have helped clients find balance. It can be challenging to change the relationship that you have with your body and food, but with the right help you can do it.
We understand that any successful eating disorder treatment involves a look at underlying issues like trauma, body image, shame and self esteem, and only then should treatments involve coping and management strategies.
Our eating disorder therapy is designed for ordinary people who need a treatment plan personalized to their strengths and goals. In the following pages you may see certain conditions listed that may help you conceptualize your struggle, but we want to emphasize that you are more than your diagnosis and no one client fits perfectly into any box. A successful treatment is centered around your personal struggle.
1-on-1 Therapies for:
OUR THERAPY APPROACHES
Our Clinicians also help with:
- Personal Growth
- Navigating Life Transitions (relocation, career changes, stage of life growth)
- Existential Concerns
- Managing Anger or Panic
- Gaining control over Substance use & Addiction
Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
Eating Disorders are a Major Medical Concern
If you are thinking about seeking treatment for an eating disorder, you are taking the right first step to get better. Eating disorders are particularly dangerous as they have the highest mortality rate when compared to other mental health disorders. The fact is that you need to retain a certain level of nutrients and water to keep your body operating as normal. Without important nutrients you can develop deficiencies in every major organ system including (but not limited to) hair loss, tooth decay, numerous gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, kidney failure, bone density loss, etc.
We understand that body image issues tend not to come alone and are strongly associated with trauma, substance abuse, depression, anxiety and OCD. If body image issues are leading you to significant self harm, you must seek help immediately.
Why Do So Many People Struggle with Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues?
In the United States alone, 20 million women and 10 million men will meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder at some time in their lifetime. And in 2019, statistics revealed that 96% of women do not like or feel comfortable in their bodies. There is also significant evidence to suggest that poor body image perception is common throughout the LGBTQ community.
Why is this?
Well for one, our society places a huge emphasis on weight. When you go to the grocery store as you are in the checkout line it’s almost a guarantee you will be surrounded by weight related messaging. “Brad Pitt’s secret green diet…”, “This middle-aged woman lost 80 pounds over the summer…”,”Eat this and not that!” It can seem impossible to not be influenced by that constant messaging. (Especially when you include billboards, tv and movies too)
Even when we eat with friends or family these messages can be emphasised. “Are you sure you want that?” “Maybe you should hold off on…”
At the core of all of this pressure, is the idea that being thin will make you happy, successful and popular. We can forget that many of the images we see in our media are digitally edited and not attainable standards. In short, attaining a certain body weight is like attaining a certain level of wealth, you can spend your entire life punishing yourself to get there, but when you do, you don’t find yourself that much happier at all.
We work to bust this pervasive “thinness is happiness” myth throughout our work with clients.
We can help with these common types of Eating Disorders, Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues
In general, you can consider your struggle an eating disorder or body image issue if you feel any of the following:
- You are uncomfortable eating around others
- Preoccupied with your food and body, weighing both excessively (at each meal for example)
- Incredibly regimented diets (excluding all carbs with no exception, etc.)
- Food rituals (e.g eats only a particular food or food group, excessive chewing and/or doesn’t allow foods to touch)
- Food rituals (e.g eats only a particular food or food group, excessive chewing and/or doesn’t allow foods to touch)
- Perfectionistic attitudes towards food
- Increased mood swings
- Purging and associated stomach problems or dehydration, dental problems
- Eating faster than normal or eating until uncomfortably full
Or if you think:
- “My body is disgusting and something to be hated”
- “Life won’t be worth living if I gain another pound”
- “I can’t be loved at my current size”
This is the most common of the eating disorders that we deal with. You may be binge eating if you are consuming large amounts of food quickly to the point of control. You may be routinely eating beyond the point of fullness, or eating when you are not hungry.
The root causes of binge eating typically include trauma, stigma toward one’s weight and the myth of thinness. These causes can be made worse by our genetic predispositions, family attitudes and the general misinformation around what constitutes healthy dieting. We at LifeStance think of binge eating as a cycle between our negative emotions towards food and our behavior, so we work to break that cycle.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID):
ARFID is an eating disorder that is strongly associated with anxiety. Clients typically consider themselves “very picky eaters”, and typically have a very small amount of foods that they allow themselves to eat. Fears (akin to phobias) around the foods that they won’t eat are very common among these clients.
Orthorexia is focused on the cleanliness of foods. Similar to AFRID, orthorexics have a severe aversion to the limited foods that they feel comfortable with. “Clean foods” can mean many things to many people but typically are organic, whole or raw.
Generally, body dysmorphia is when a client is focused on what they perceive as repugnant characteristics about themselves. It can lead to constant thinking about the features that they consider imperfect. In many cases these include: “the gut”, genitals, face, and muscle tone. At times concerns over body image can lead to obsession, sometimes leading clients to focus on altering the body part they find most distressing through surgery or other invasive interventions.
Contrary to how the media discusses anorexia, there is no specific weight that automatically makes someone “anorexic.” Instead, anorexia is diagnosed if you have strict restrictions on your food intake accompanied by unhealthy rates of weight loss and a strong fear towards weight gain.
Some clients that suffer from anorexia focus on limiting their total caloric intake, while others find themselves binging (excessive and fast eating) and purging (vomiting, intense exercise, taking laxatives) around meals to “control their weight.” Like all eating disorders it varies based on the person.
Bulimia is dominated by binging and purging episodes. Meaning that most clients eat a large amount of food past “fullness” and binge after the meal. Typically, clients have severe shame and guilt during these episodes. In general, they have negative perceptions of the body.
Night Eating Syndrome (NES):
Night eating is typically associated with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep walking. Sufferers of NES find themselves eating mostly at night and at times losing sleep in order to eat. Typically these patients strongly believe that they need food in order to fall asleep.
Body Image Issues in Young Adults
While the roots of body image issues and eating disorders start during childhood, most people start seeking solutions as young adults. As a result, the largest number of people who come to us for therapy regarding these topics are in the 14-35 age group. Often with our younger clients we go over social media use, peer expectations and other challenges unique to young adults. You can read more about our work with young adults and children.
Our Approach to Eating Disorders and Body Image
Our approach to eating disorders is twofold. We work on underlying self esteem challenges and promote a health at any size philosophy for optimal mental health. This approach works well at treating eating disorders because it gets to the core beliefs that cause the destructive behavior.
Body Image and Self Esteem
First of all, we understand that at the core of most eating disorders are body image and self esteem issues. We work with our clients through some of these core beliefs that guide how they behave. Our values influence our thoughts and actions, so replacing hard-coded negative thoughts with positive ones takes serious commitment, but is an important step to recovery.
Health At Any Size
We are also one of the few centers in the area to embrace the mentality of “health at any size.” The truth is that the first step to be comfortable in your body isn’t to change it, but to accept it. A major obstacle to treating eating disorders is the body shame and secrecy that prevent a clear look at the issue. Once you come to terms with your shame, and can openly discuss your feelings towards yourself and food, and finally you can create a plan for the future that will be followed (and successful).
Our therapy is best suited for those who are just starting on managing their eating concerns, or those who are looking to follow-up or maintain the progress they have gained previously.
1. LifeStance provides a comprehensive assessment to assess your body image and food related behaviors, and set goals to track your progress.
2. You will meet with a therapist that is best suited to your concerns and strengths. The relationship that you build with your therapist here is important, so ask questions and get to know them as they get to know you.
3. In order to help you progress, we will use evidence based approaches for body image concerns including CBT, ACT and Mindfulness. For issues rooted in trauma we have therapists that specialize in helping clients heal from trauma.
4. If necessary we will connect you with or recommend someone in our network of relevant specialists that may help you in the Seattle area. These may include: family-based services, meal support, weight monitoring, dieticians, psychopharmacologists, treatment centers, etc.
We will connect you with more intensive in patient resources if your medical condition is severe or the frequency of your disorder has completely prevented you from participating in your day to day life.
Break-free and begin your journey to
There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.
LifeStance Health can help.
Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:
Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.
First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling
We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.
Call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.
Schedule by phone:
LifeStance Washington Locations
Tacoma Meadow Park
12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
Bothell, WA 98011
Plaza 600 Building
600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
Seattle WA 98101
–Coming Fall 2021–
221 N Wall St.
Spokane WA 99201
5909 Orchard Street West
Tacoma, WA 98467
2420 S. Union Ave, Suite 100
Tacoma, WA 98405
5201 Olympic Drive, Suite 210
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
21727 76th Ave West, Suite C
Edmonds, WA 98026