Do You Engage In Binge/Purge Behaviors When Overwhelmed?
Has eating become a means for coping with your daily stressors? Does a sense of low self-esteem or poor body image dictate the choices you make when opening the refrigerator or pantry door? Do you find yourself losing control over what kinds and amounts of food to put in your body?
Perhaps you are using food in order to regulate your emotions or numb yourself from uncomfortable feelings. When you begin eating, you may feel as though you lose yourself in the act and maintain little control about how much to eat. Feelings of shame and guilt can often result. After a binge episode, you may feel numb and flat. And for those with bulimia, these feelings might cause you to expel what you have just ingested by purging food to rid yourself of perceived excess.
Over time, you may lose trust in yourself and others when it comes time to eat. And what was once a necessary and healthy act of nourishing your body may now be charged with anxiety and self-deprecation. Binging and/or purging may have become your main source of coping with intense feelings or emotions, and the cycle of self-harm, shame, and guilt continues. Not to mention, both binging and purging can have detrimental effects on your body and prevent you from getting the nutrients you need, opening up the door for a host of other disruptive and costly issues in the future.
While the loss of control over what and how much you eat may feel like an anxiety-inducing and permanent association with food, it’s possible to gain perspective and think differently about what is happening inside of your mind and body when urges arise. And Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a substantiated treatment model for these eating disorders in particular.
Sometimes, Eating Might Be The Only Area Where We Feel Control In Our Lives
Folks who struggle with emotional regulation are at risk for any number of disorders that can affect mental health. It is common for those who haven’t developed sufficient coping methods to struggle with depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and suicidal ideation, as well as disordered eating habits. While restrictive eating behaviors certainly fall under the category of eating disorders, DBT is not the suggested treatment for anorexia. However, restrictive behaviors often need to be addressed in those struggling with binge eating disorder and bulimia, for which DBT is an effective treatment.
Binging is defined as excessive eating over a two- to three-hour time period, where more food is consumed than normal and the type of food being consumed is often a comfort food and thus not entirely healthy (candy, ice cream, fast food, etc.). During a binge episode, we may feel as though we have lost control over how much we are eating, arriving at the point where we feel uncomfortably full or anxious and depressed about what just happened.
Bulimia nervosa, or purging, can take the form of forcing ourselves to vomit what we just ate or using diuretics and laxatives. Unfortunately, when purging, we may gain a false sense of control over the situation, reinforcing the belief that we can regain the control we felt was lost by forcing ourselves to get rid of what was ingested.
The truth is that food is a complex and sensitive issue, and it’s often one of the few areas of our lives where we have full reign over the decisions of how much or little to take into our bodies. Our culture maintains so many falsehoods and restrictions about food and the act of eating has become tangled up in standards of appearance and body image. Men and women alike encounter pressures to look a certain way and thus, our dieting habits become quickly intertwined with our sense of self.
More often than not, eating disorders are the result of black-and-white thinking, where two absolutes exist (not eating at all or eating to excess), and there is no room for moderation. However, the work of Suffolk DBT is precisely the practice of locating a middle path, so that extreme emotions can be managed in a positive and healthy way.
DBT Is An Effective Treatment Model For Binge Eating Disorder And Bulimia
As a multifaceted issue, your binging or purging episodes need a multifaceted treatment approach. Recognizing the deeper issues at play with your eating disorder will help you develop the skills to become more self-aware of your urges, emotions, and actions in treatment. Using DBT, you will not only develop an understanding of how to manage your emotions but also gain a community of like-minded people who are sensitive to the challenges you face.
Using the four modules of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, your therapist will assist you in cultivating the skills to not only locate your urges (and what triggers them) but also how not to act on them. By achieving mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation, you will be positioned for success the next time you feel the need to use food in order to cope.
At Suffolk DBT, we begin the process of therapy for your eating disorder by ensuring commitment to the treatment, using a dialectical model that requires six months of both individual and group sessions. Once established, you will begin practicing writing diary cards to help you explore the emotions, stressors, and triggers you feel on a daily basis. Over time, you will be oriented to a group session (in conjunction with weekly individual treatment) that will help with the process of defining and verbalizing your feelings and the behaviors associated with them.
Throughout the treatment, you will begin to feel less vulnerable to episodes of disordered eating as you uncover the urges behind those episodes. You will also have the opportunity to achieve more mindfulness in your daily eating habits and notice mindful practices occurring beyond the context of eating. In fact, as a skills-based treatment, DBT can help you to regulate the emotions and behaviors in your life that extend beyond your eating disorder. In the process, you will engage in the practice of radical acceptance by understanding that even if there are missteps along the way, every action is an opportunity from which you can learn.
At Suffolk DBT, our therapists are sensitive to the struggles you face and the emotions that come with them. As dialectical thinkers, we are empathetic and understanding counselors who are expertly trained in a therapy approach that has proven highly effective for eating disorders.
Your life does not have to be enveloped by your suffering. Through treatment, a life of reconnection to your body and freedom from your eating disorder is possible. And in fact, all of the goals you set out for yourself are yours to achieve.
I am curious about seeking treatment for my eating disorder, but I have some questions…
I am afraid to expose my eating disorder to others and do not want to face the shame.
The therapists and counselors at Suffolk DBT are empathetic and understanding professionals who are invested in your treatment and recovery from an eating disorder. We understand that it is scary to be vulnerable in the context of therapy, but we aim to create a safe environment where you can experience feelings of security and acceptance while also understanding that you are not alone. There are people in the Suffolk DBT community and beyond who feel the same way and have the same fears. Confronting your eating disorder is an essential part of the process of recovering from it.
Therapy has not helped me in the past in treating my eating disorder. What makes Suffolk DBT different?
We are usually the last stop for people who have struggled with therapeutic treatment for their eating disorder in the past. As mentioned, DBT has proven highly effective in treating binging and purging behaviors, and we are big believers in the potential of dialectical therapy in healing all the parts of your life. Moreover, we are a team of experts who rely on each other in providing information and research while applying the DBT model. Each case will be viewed extensively and will incorporate the knowledge and experience of a team of people invested in your treatment and healing.
I don’t have the time or money to invest in treatment for my eating disorder.
Self-growth and improvement will always be an investment of your resources. However, we believe that in securing treatment for your eating disorder now, you will not only save time and money in the long run, but you will also save yourself from experiencing ongoing pain. You deserve to find happiness and relief from the shame and guilt associated with your eating disorder behavior, and treatment is the first step towards that happiness. You are worth it!
Regain Control Of Your Eating Habits And Self-Compassion In Your Life
If you are struggling with binge eating disorder or bulimia, treatment with DBT can help you process and cope with your emotions in a healthy, meaningful, and lasting way. To find out more, schedule an appointment with Suffolk DBT by contacting us on our website or calling (631) 828-2264 today.