man suffering from an eating disorder

When an Eating Disorder Takes Over Your Life

If you have a problem with an eating disorder that you can’t seem to control, what should you do? Here, we’ll look at some specific suggestions such as mental health treatment programs to help you begin the healing process and resume living in a healthier manner.

Disordered Eating

It might first be helpful to define what disordered eating is. Chances are, it means something a little different than what you think. Disordered eating occurs when a person’s attitudes about their body size, weight, and food lead to a very rigid pattern of behavior. Their eating and exercise habits ultimately jeopardize their health, safety, and happiness. Maybe what happened in your case is that you started off just wanting to drop a few pounds. Maybe you wanted to look good for an upcoming event or to get “in shape” for the beach. But shedding those pounds or dropping those inches can quickly escalate into a dangerous, obsessive, and out-of-control behavior pattern. This can turn into an eating disorder.

If you suffer from an eating disorder, at The Ranch TN, we offer treatment programs such as a binge eating disorder treatment center to help you through your recovery.

Eating Disorder Statistics

Eating disorders generally begin during the teenaged years or early adulthood. However, they can come on at any age, including childhood and later in life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 2.7 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds are suffering from an eating disorder. And girls are more than 2-1/2 times more likely to have an eating disorder than boys.

Incidentally, the NIMH broadly defines an eating disorder as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and/or binge eating disorder. Among adults, the average age of onset for binge eating disorder is 25. People ages 18-29, 30-44, and 45-59 were all significantly more likely to have binge eating disorder than 60+ year olds. The average onset age for anorexia nervosa is 19 years, while for bulimia nervosa, it’s 20 years old.

Do You Want to Change?

You already have come to the realization that your eating disorder is taking over your life. Now is likely a good time to get serious and think about how you’ll change. Maybe your realization came about as a result of how bad your overall health has become after a protracted period of anorexia or bulimia or binge eating disorder. In fact, anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder only get worse if they remain untreated.

In that respect, an eating disorder is like any other kind of addiction. Once you’re into it, you can’t just stop of your own accord. Maybe you’re waffling — all for doing what it takes one day and then changing your mind the next. If so, even being forced into an addiction treatment program for an eating disorder – by your parents or spouse, for example – won’t be enough to keep you on track with what you need to do. But it is a start. And you have to begin somewhere. This is especially true if things have gotten really bad for you health-wise and your life is all out of whack as a result of your eating disorder. So, let’s say that you think you want to change. Now it’s time to help you become better informed so that you want to change.

Getting Past the Stigma

A big part of acknowledging that you have an eating disorder involves being able to get past the stigma that still, unfortunately, is associated with the disorder. The truth is that ignorance is what perpetuates a stigma of any sort.

So, how do you get past the stigma – especially if it’s right in your own family? This is a tough one, but it’s not inconceivable that you can do it. Of course, you very likely won’t be able to do this on your own. You will need help. And help is available from a number of sources, whether you go in for treatment at a women’s eating disorder recovery center or immediately or simply begin by researching resources available online. The point is to begin the process. It’s only by getting started on the path to healing that you will be able to heal.

Eating Disorders are Treatable

The truth is that eating disorders are treatable medical illnesses. It takes time to undo the harm that’s already been done, to learn new and healthier eating and lifestyle behaviors, and to get some real-life experience living a more proactive existence. It may also be that along with an eating disorder you also have some other illness, and you may need to seek help from a depression treatment center, a substance abuse treatment center, or an anxiety treatment center.

The basics of treatment for an eating disorder include an emphasis on balance. This includes adequate nutrition, appropriate exercise, and stopping all purging behavior. Some eating disorders respond well to certain types of psychotherapy, an individual therapy program, and medications. Going in for treatment of an eating disorder is the first step toward learning how to live a healthier life.

Treatment plans are tailored to your specific situation and may include individual therapy, a group therapy program, family therapy program, nutritional counseling, medical care and monitoring, and medications. Incorporating family or marital therapy into the patient’s care may help to prevent relapses. This helps resolve interpersonal issues related to the eating disorder. In family therapy, therapists guide family members into an understanding of their loved one’s disorder and learn techniques for coping with problems.

Support groups are also invaluable as the patient and his or her family begins to heal. As for the conditions that may be life-threatening, individuals may need to attend a hospital until they can stabilize – especially if they are suffering from malnutrition or are seriously underweight.

Educate Yourself

What can you do right now, today, to begin your journey toward healing from an eating disorder that’s taking over your life? Start by educating yourself on the specifics of the type of eating disorder you believe you have, or the one you’ve been diagnosed with if that is the case. Dispelling the fear and myths associated with eating disorders can immediately help you get past the stigma and give you the encouragement you need to take the next step and get into treatment. (1-800-994-9662) has terrific fact sheets that you can download and print out on the various types of eating disorders. Other resources and contact numbers include:

  • Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) 1-847-498-4274
  • American Psychological Association (APA) 1-800-374-2721
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIH, HHS) 1-866-615-8431
  • National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) 1-800-931-2237
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders 1-847-831-3438
  • National Mental Health Information Center (SAMHSA, HHS) 1-800-789-2647
  • The Obesity Society 1-301-563-6526
  • Weight Control Information Network (NIDDK, NIH, HHS) 1-877-946-4627

Treatment for An Eating Disorder

Once you make a diagnosis that you have an eating disorder, a treatment center will recommend appropriate treatment based on the physical, psychiatric, and laboratory findings. Treatment may include inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospital, or residential care. You can start by talking with your doctor. Ask for a referral for treatment for your eating disorder. You may also know of an organization in your area like The Ranch Tennessee, or have a friend who’s gone through treatment.

Where do you get treatment for an eating disorder? There are three choices: inpatient, outpatient, and residential housing. Inpatient treatment is where you reside at a treatment facility for the duration of your treatment program. This can be several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your eating disorder and your progress toward overcoming it, along with the general state of your physical and emotional health. Outpatient treatment for an eating disorder is usually conducted at eating disorder clinics or mental health clinics, but can also occur at inpatient facilities that also offer outpatient treatment. The focus of residential housing is to help with the patient’s transition back into daily life for those in recovery. Sometimes this includes aftercare or continuing care programs, or it may be a separate care facility.

To find a treatment professional in your area, refer to the National Eating Disorders Association treatment providers and support group directory. Or, call NEDA’s toll-free treatment referral helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

Self-Help Groups for Support

After you complete treatment for an eating disorder, you need continued support both from your family and loved ones, but also from outside groups that specifically help those in recovery from an eating disorder. Three of these groups are Overeaters Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous, and Food Addicts Anonymous. There are no dues or fees to join, and participation in these 12-step fellowship groups is always anonymous.

Summing it Up

There’s one simple way to summarize what you need to do when an eating disorder takes over your life: You need to take action. What you do will depend on your readiness to embark on this journey of discovery. It will also depend on the availability of family and friends to support you during your healing process, and access to and completion of appropriate treatment to overcome an eating disorder. Recognize that this is a worthwhile endeavor that you are considering. The decision is yours since only you can decide you really want to change.

Once you come to that conclusion, spring into action and never look back. After all, you live in the present. Make your life choices count so that you can enjoy every moment of life. You can do it. But you need to begin your healing journey today. Call us at 1.844.876.7680 for more information.

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