Eating Disorders and How We Treat Them

At Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn we are able to treat individuals who suffer from a mild to a moderate eating disorder. Severe eating disorders usually require a hospital environment in order to manage the individual’s physical health and the disorder more effectively. For those suffering from a mild to moderate eating disorder, or where it presents as a co-occurring illness alongside addiction, we are able to offer a comprehensive bespoke rehabilitation programme.

Eating disorders are very serious and often very difficult to treat successfully. The individual has to eat and can only abstain from the destructive behaviours that relate to the disorder. We concentrate on challenging and changing the individual’s core beliefs through a number of proven therapeutic treatments. We also help to support and manage them in their abstinence from their specific disordered eating.

For more information on how we can help you or a loved one to recover from an eating disorder, please call our team for a free, over the phone, confidential assessment of your treatment needs.

Eating Disorder Types

Eating disorders are an illness of extremes and can swing from one end of the scale to the other; from undereating and anorexia nervosa to overeating and binge eating disorder. Other manifestations include bulimia nervosa, food phobias and food restriction. Eating disorders are a serious, life-threatening, mental health condition and often present as a co-occurring illness alongside alcohol and drug addiction/abuse. An individual that suffers from an eating disorder will commonly turn to alcohol, drugs, relationships and sex to manage their eating to fit in with their core belief system. For instance, an anorexic may use cocaine or amphetamine in order to suppress their appetite and speed up weight loss. Another example is a bulimic that will turn to alcohol binges and sex to relieve the pain they are in and block out their reality; they will usually use alcohol to replace food and so relieve the compulsion to binge.

No matter how the eating disorder manifests; it causes the sufferer huge amounts of physical and emotional discomfort and distress.

Do You or a Loved One Have an Eating Disorder?

All forms of disordered eating are very dangerous, to the individual’s mental, physical and emotional health. Bulimia and anorexia cause imbalances in the sufferer’s brain and their bodies electrolytes. This can severely impact on their mental and physical health and make it very difficult for them to see that their eating is not normal. Overeating and binge eating can cause all kinds of physical problems and stop an individual’s emotional development; they use food as a way of managing and escaping emotions. Below are the common manifestations of an eating disorder, we hope this will help you to understand and identify which of these you or your loved one is primarily suffering from:

Anorexia Nervosa – Individuals with anorexia nervosa often suffer from the condition knob body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).  BDD manifests in a deluded and false perception of their own body image. Even when they are extremely underweight, BDD will persuade them that they are fat and need to lose more weight. The manifestation of BDD will drive them to never feeling satisfied with their own body and keep losing weight even when it is risking their own life. Anorexics severely restrict their food intake and also have tendencies to purging their body of any nutrients that they do consume through excessive exercise and the abuse of laxatives. Anorexics can also develop Bulimic tendencies. Anorexia nervosa is a very serious condition that can lead to a host of physical health conditions including organ failure, infertility, bone mass loss, brain damage, and death.

Bulimia Nervosa – Bulimia nervosa sufferers consume very large amounts of food within one sitting. Following a binge, they will experience intense feelings of guilt, shame and regret; these feelings drive them to get rid of the food they have just eaten. In a bulimics mind, this resets their body and they feel cleansed after purging. The process of purging usually takes place through self-induced vomiting and/or through the abuse of laxatives Those that suffer from bulimia tend to have an average body weight and their binging and purging takes place in secrecy. For these reasons, it can be extremely difficult to spot someone who is suffering from bulimia. Bulimics can often suffer from BDD and have an inability to process difficult emotions. Bulimics typically suffer from low self-worth and cripplingly low self-esteem. This illness can also be deadly and result in severe dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, internal bleeds, malnutrition, heart problems, heart failure and death.

Binge Eating Disorder – Those who suffer from binge eating disorder regularly lose control over the amount of food they consume. They will continue to eat, as they do not recognise when they are full. This is due to the fact that they go into a trance-like state that is devoid of emotions whilst they are binging. Unlike Bulimia, they do not purge after a binge. Like Bulimia, they very much eat in order to cope with or avoid difficult emotions. Bulimics and binge eaters will usually eat things that are high in calories whilst binging. Foods that cause them to feel shame and guilt. During a binge, they have no control over their food intake and will often eat to the point of severe discomfort. Typically they will suffer from feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. Those who have Binge Eating Disorder are at high risk of becoming severely obese and developing related conditions such as heart disease and type II diabetes. Binge eating too can cause death through organ failure and heart attack.

Restricted eating and food phobias – Those that suffer from restricted eating and food phobias will deliberately avoid certain foods or food groups. This is because they have an unhealthy fear of certain foods. Most that restrict their eating will obsess over losing weight; they may attempt this in a number of ways, from fasting to restricting their calorie intake to avoiding carbohydrates. The danger with both of these disorders is that the individual can become malnourished through not taking in enough nutrition and essential vitamins. Someone with a food phobia will have an irrational fear around a particular food or group of foods; they will go to any lengths to avoid these foods as it causes them to suffer acute anxiety and panic. They may go to the extremes of avoiding supermarkets, social gatherings and restaurants for fear of coming face to face with the food or foods that they have a phobia towards.

What Are the Causes?

Eating disorders are serious mental health illnesses that require professional and intensive treatment in order to overcome. Many believe that eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia are triggered by social media pressure to look a certain way. This may have some truth in it, but only for those that are predisposed to developing the condition. Many individuals with eating disorders have complex and deep-rooted emotional issues that require professional treatment. There is no quick fix to treating disordered eating, it takes time, therapy and practical application. Eating disorders are often accompanied by other co-occurring conditions. It has been recognised that an individual’s genetic makeup can make them more predisposed to developing a mental health illness. Where there is a susceptibility within an individual, the following can be a trigger for an eating disorder developing:

  • A family history of eating disorders, substance abuse, depression or mental health illness
  • Been criticised for their weight, body shape, or eating habits at a young and impressionable age
  • A desire to be thin because of a particular activity such as modelling, athletics, or dancing
  • An obsessive personality, low self-esteem, or an anxiety disorder
  • Suffering a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, or suffered emotional, sexual or physical abuse
  • Stressful situations at home, at school, or at work that makes them feel out of control of their life
  • Underlying Mental health illness such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) or Depression
  • A desire to fit in and be accepted by others

Eating Disorders: Symptoms

Most individuals who suffer from an eating disorder find it incredibly difficult to admit they have a problem and seek help. They will go to extraordinary lengths to keep their illness hidden from others. The fear of giving up their eating disorder is overwhelming as they feel it is the only thing in their life that they can control…even though this is blatantly not the case. Someone with an eating disorder will usually also have deep-rooted control issues. They feel safe in their illness and cannot imagine a life without it. When challenged around their eating, they are usually defensive and resentful; as admitting they have a problem would likely result in further probing and challenging as to why they aren’t addressing it. For someone with an eating disorder to ask for help, they really have to have reached a rock bottom physically, mentally and emotionally with the disorder. Their brain is conditioned to obsess around food and they cannot imagine a life free from their obsession with food.

What Are the Signs?

If you are worried that you or a loved may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is vital that you seek immediate professional advice and help around accessing the correct treatment. As previously advised, it is not as simple as eating less or eating more; to others, who do not understand the illness, this is the obvious solution. Someone who has an eating disorder may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • An obsession with being thin and never being thin enough
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight
  • A distorted body image (BDD)
  • Severely restricted eating
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Excessive exercising
  • Unrealistic and dangerous goal setting
  • Abusing laxatives
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Fine hair on the body known as downing
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Avoidance of eating in front of others
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Lower than average BMI

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Swollen glands in the jaw or neck area
  • Average BMI (may also be underweight or overweight)
  • Bloated face and water retention
  • Gum disease
  • Avoidance of eating in front of others
  • Constant sore or inflamed throat
  • Dehydration
  • Hiding the evidence, ie wrappers and food
  • Stomach problems from laxative use
  • Gastrointestinal problems and acid reflux
  • Sensitive teeth from recurrent vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Preoccupation with eating/starving/purging and dieting

Binge Eating

  • Higher than average BMI
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Avoidance of eating in front of others
  • Hiding the evidence, ie wrappers and food
  • Lethargy
  • Tendency to isolate
  • Spending large amounts of money on food
  • Poor self-image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Preoccupation with food/dieting

Most individuals with an eating disorder will feel uncomfortable eating in front of others. They will find excuses not to eat, to eat in public or at the family dinner table. They will feel very uncomfortable with others watching and possibly monitoring their eating habits; they will feel pressured to eat “normally” which they find incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do.

Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn Eating Disorders Programme

Oasis Recovery Communities Runcorn are able to treat all kinds of disordered eating. Inpatient treatment of a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks is recommended, this provides us with the time frame required to help the individual lay the foundations for a lasting recovery. As the individual is exposed to food constantly and has to eat in order to survive, abstinence is not an option. However, we can show them practical ways of abstaining from the harmful behaviours related to their particular disorder. We recommend a long period of rehabilitation ideally so that they can practice their abstinence within our safe and supportive environment. Without the opportunity to do this, they are likely to relapse on returning home

To start with, the change in eating will feel very uncomfortable; we will support them through the adjustment period and monitor them very closely. Every patient admitting to our rehab clinic will, first of all, undergo a comprehensive medical assessment by our addictions and mental health specialist Doctor. Additional medicines and vitamins may be prescribed at this point, in order to assist their physical and mental rehabilitation. Following this, our clinical staff will use their experience to develop a personalised treatment plan that will include details of behaviours they will be required to abstain from. A healthy eating plan will be encouraged and monitored closely for the duration of their stay. In addition to the practical steps we put in place, we also address the underlying issues and false belief systems embedded within each individual. Our therapeutic programme is very intensive and designed to bring about a huge shift in the patient’s thinking and how they process their emotions.

Patients who admit to us for treatment of an eating disorder will benefit from the following proven treatment therapies

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
  • One to One Counselling
  • Trauma Therapy
  • 12 Step or Strengths recovery module
  • Group Therapy
  • Holistic Therapies, including meditation, mindfulness, music and art

Those who do not have an addiction to exercise will also be allowed monitored access to the gym and local swimming baths. For those that have an addiction to exercise as part of their disorder, they will be required to abstain. Ultimately, we aim to change the relationship that the patient has with food, in that we encourage them to see it as a healthy fuel for the body as opposed to a way of controlling or blocking how they are feeling.

We understand how terrifying it is for a patient to face their eating disorder and admit to us for treatment. We will assist in any way we can to support them through their treatment and make the changes necessary for their recovery. Furthermore, in our commitment to each patient’s ongoing recovery, all those that complete treatment with us, will benefit from 12 months complimentary aftercare.

Treating Eating Disorders is challenging, but we believe they can be successfully overcome and permanent recovery obtained with the correct treatment plan – designed to treat each patient on an individual basis. We will do all we can to support you or your loved one throughout the recovery journey. Freedom from food addiction is possible; we have the knowledge and expertise to help.

If you need help for an eating disorder or if you are concerned about a loved one, get in touch with Oasis Recovery communities Runcorn today!

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Call Now 0203 131 5938
Call Now 0203 131 5938

Call Now 0203 131 5938

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  • 38-40
  • Bridge St
  • Runcorn
  • WA7 1BY
  • UK

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