Eating Disorders and Body Image
In today's Western society, we are constantly bombarded with images of the 'perfect person' (or so we are meant to believe). When we buy into this false image, we develop our own story of not being good enough and we may find ourselves taking drastic measures to live up to these false expectations. I provide counselling and therapy to those struggling with eating and body image issues, and to those who use food as a means to cope with overwhelming emotions including stress.
How do I know if I have eating and/or body image issues?
Issues with food and/or personal body image perceptions are usually evident when they begin to interfere in your daily functioning, particularly in the areas of work, school, relationships, and personal health. If preoccupation about the way you look interferes with your self-esteem, your ability to engage in meaningful activities, and most importantly, your overall physical and psychological health, it may be time to seek professional support.
How can you help me?
I utilise a harm reduction framework. Harm reduction (also known as harm minimisation) is an effective, non-judgmental treatment approach for any risk behaviour including unhealthy relationships with food, exercise, and other harmful behaviours that result from preoccupation with body image. Harm reduction aims to reduce the harms and negative consequences associated with eating disorders so you may lead a richer and healthier life.
In a non-judgmental, non-coercive environment, you may opt for harm reduction and/or abstinence-based treatment plans. I also offer a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills program to individuals - a mindfulness-based therapy that is designed to treat self-destructive behaviours and is most effective in conjunction with individual therapy. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Ego State Therapy, and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) are also effective treatment approaches that may be integrated into a therapeutic framework that is tailored uniquely for every individual. I meet you at whatever stage of change you are at and collaborate with you to make effective and realistic goals that meet your individualised needs.
If you’ve heard about mindful eating but aren’t sure where or how to start, here are instructions for a brief mindfulness eating exercise:
The following exercise is simple and will only take a few minutes.
Find a small piece of food, such as one raisin or nut, or a small cookie. You can use any food that you like. Eating with mindfulness is not about deprivation or rules.
Begin by exploring this little piece of food, using as many of your senses as possible.
First, look at the food. Notice its texture. Notice its color.
Now, close your eyes, and explore the food with your sense of touch. What does this food feel like? Is it hard or soft? Grainy or sticky? Moist or dry?
Notice that you’re not being asked to think, but just to notice different aspects of your experience, using one sense at a time. This is what it means to eat mindfully.
Before you eat, explore this food with your sense of smell. What do you notice?
Now, begin eating. No matter how small the bite of food you have, take at least two bites to finish it.
Take your first bite. Please chew very slowly, noticing the actual sensory experience of chewing and tasting. Remember, you don’t need to think about your food to experience it. You might want to close your eyes for a moment to focus on the sensations of chewing and tasting, before continuing.
Notice the texture of the food; the way it feels in your mouth.
Notice if the intensity of its flavor changes, moment to moment.
Take about 20 more seconds to very slowly finish this first bite of food, being aware of the simple sensations of chewing and tasting.
It isn’t always necessary to eat slowly in order to eat with mindfulness. But it’s helpful at first to slow down, in order to be as mindful as you can.
Now, please take your second and last bite.
As before, chew very slowly, while paying close attention to the actual sensory experience of eating: the sensations and movements of chewing, the flavor of the food as it changes, and the sensations of swallowing.
Just pay attention, moment by moment.
Using a mindfulness eating exercise on a regular basis is only one part of a mindfulness approach to your diet. The liberating power of mindfulness takes deeper effect when you begin to pay mindful attention to your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, all of which lead us to eat. Mindfulness (awareness) is the foundation that many people have been missing for overcoming food cravings, addictive eating, binge eating, emotional eating, and stress eating.
Article courtesy of www.MindfulnessDiet.com
Recommended eating disorder and body image books and resources (click on the link below):
Feeling Good About the Way You Look by Sabine Wilhelm, PhD