Problems with food, weight and body image are very common and can have huge impact on a person's physical and mental health. They can affect people of any age and gender. Unfortunately, people who experience issues with food and eating often have high levels of shame and guilt. People can intentionally hide their difficulties meaning it is hard to access help at the time when it is needed most.
I recognise that for people with food issues, getting help can be a frightening process. Working on motivation, recognising why you want to move forward and helping you keep a focus on recovery is a large part of the work. Whatever your issue is with food, now is a good time to explore getting the help and support you deserve.
What do we mean by ‘eating disorders’ and ‘disordered eating’?
Lots of people experience ‘disordered eating’ or have a difficult relationship with food. This can be experienced in some of the following ways:
· Preoccupation with food, weight and shape
· Skipping meals or undereating
· Trying lots of different diets
· Using laxatives, diet pills or vomiting after food as a way of compensating for what has been eaten
· Excessive body checking/monitoring/weighing
· Over exercising
· Eating in secret, eating large quantities of food or eating at unusual times e.g. the middle of the night
· Feeling out of control when you eat
· Eating to get rid of unwanted emotions or ‘comfort eating’
· Feeling guilt or shame about the food you eat
People are diagnosed with an eating disorder when they meet certain criteria relating to body weight and eating behaviours. You do not need to have an eating disorder to have a problem with food, weight or body image.
Specialist help is required for eating issues and there are some wonderful NHS and voluntary services out there to help. However, in my experience there are also large gaps where people seem to ‘fall through the net’ and don’t meet the criteria to access the help on offer. This can leave people feeling demoralised, disappointed and even convince them not to get support at all. This is where independent specialists like myself may be able to help.
Please note: In independent practice I am unable to work with people under the age of 18 who are not weight restored (have a very low BMI).
How I can Help
I am experienced in working with people who have diagnosed eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder) and have spent time working in specialist eating disorder services both in the NHS and the voluntary sector.
I also have a specialist interest in other types of 'disordered eating' where people have developed a difficult relationship with food, sometimes alongside other issues such as anxiety or depression.
In line with my general approach, I do not offer a one-size fits all treatment for eating/food issues. I recognise that your particular difficulties with food will have developed and been maintained by an individual set of factors. By seeing a Clinical Psychologist, you will receive an assessment of your individual strengths, difficulties, needs and goals. We can then apply psychological theory to understand the difficulties facing you and how to approach them. This will often mean we utilise strategies from a number of different approaches.
Depending on the issues, this can include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Compassion Focussed Therapy (CFT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
All of the approaches I use are evidenced-based for clinical eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours. This means that scientific research has shown them to be effective in helping people develop a better relationship with food.
In specialist services professionals work as a team to address the different needs of somebody with an eating disorder or difficulties with food. Similarly, in independent practice I will often recommend regular physical health monitoring (for example by your GP) and/or consultation with a dietician.
Please contact me to discuss your needs in more detail.