Body Image and Disordered Eating

Do you find yourself (or your child) disliking your body or feeling uncomfortable around food? Does it ever feel like your life is an endless battle of dieting, exercising, and comparing yourself to others? Are the majority of your thoughts spent thinking about how much you ate, how much you need to burn off, and how guilty you feel for the choices you made? It’s no surprise that men and women of all ages are feeling pressure to look a certain way. We are bombarded with images in social media and television daily (if not hourly) of “perfect” bodies. What the images don’t tell you is how unhealthy the pursuit of perfection can be and how damaging it can be to our body-image.

Although you might not have an eating disorder, your poor body image and/or disordered eating might still be negatively impairing your life. If this sounds like you, know two things: One, you are not alone in this. It is estimated that 91% of women are disappointed with their bodies (DoSomething.org). Two, this is something that can be worked on with a therapist. At THF, we have therapists who have worked with a spectrum of body image and eating problems (over-eating, body dysmorphia, restricting, binging and purging, over-exercising, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, etc.)

What can you expect from therapy? Well, if this is an appropriate level of care for you, you can expect a combination of talk therapy, referrals to appropriate professionals if needed, and a focus on developing a more balanced lifestyle and healthier relationship with your body and food. We will talk about things ranging from history, current stressors, body image, daily habits, coping skills etc. Sometimes we will talk, use art and play if appropriate, engage in trauma-therapy, and use writing and mindfulness practices.

It is natural to have doubts about this process. Maybe you are afraid your therapist will just tell you, “You look great and have nothing to worry about.” This is advice that well-meaning friends often give. Rest assured, therapists are not here to give advice, because we know that does not work. We are here to challenge flawed thinking pattern, educate you about contributing factors, and identify coping skills and changes you can make to your lifestyle. You also might be wondering if we can really help you through this, especially if your body image and eating issues have gotten severe. We are not a treatment center for eating disorders but are happy to walk through the process of finding appropriate resources if necessary with you. Lastly, many people hesitate to seek help for eating problems because they are ashamed – they insist they are “Too fat” to an eating disorder. This could not be further from the truth, and that level of shame and self-criticism is your sign that you are struggling with self and body-image.

If you have any concerns about your or your child’s mental health and how it is impacted by body image, eating habits, and beliefs about food, please reach out for help by calling us at 909-452-7684. We can answer initial questions for you, provide information, and set up a session if appropriate. If a higher level of care is needed, we are happy to provide referrals for treatment centers in the area.