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Stop Eating Disorders In Their Tracks

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eating disorders
Food is not your enemy.

We’ve all had some sort of struggle with food. Whether it’s eating too much or too little. Whether its cravings or other feelings, it isn’t something to be ashamed of. However, if it gets in the way of your well being, your health, and your life, then its time for a change. Today on Hypnotic News I want to talk about eating disorders. What they are and what you can do about them.

Eating Disorders

When food turns into your enemy you have an eating disorder. These are psychological disorders that cause unhealthy eating habits. Many start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. They can cause severe health consequences and may result in death if left untreated.

Eating disorders can have a wide range of symptoms. Most include severe restriction of food, binging, or purging behaviors such as vomiting or over-exercising. They can affect anyone at any time though they are most common in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of the population may experience an eating disorder by age 20.

Causes

Eating disorders are caused by a variety of factors including:

  • Genetics. Genetic studies give some evidence that eating disorders may be hereditary. In twin studies, if one twin has an eating disorder, the other has a 50% chance of developing one as well.
  • Personality Traits. We know some traits tend to lead to higher chances of developing an eating disorder. These include:
    • Neuroticism
    • Perfectionism
    • Impassivity
  • Cultural Norms. The perception that we have to be thin and media perpetuating this concept, even when it becomes unhealthy. In fact, certain eating disorders are non-existent in cultures that have not been exposed to Western ideas of thinness.
  • Brain Structure. There is some evidence that brain structure may play a role. Particularly the levels of brain messengers (serotonin and dopamine) may play a role. Research remains unclear as to the extent this plays if any.

That said, these ideas are present in many places in the world. However, in many places, the number of people with eating disorders is few. Thus, it is likely that it is a mix of these factors that cause disorders.

Anorexia

Anorexia nervosa is likely the most well-known eating disorder. It develops during adolescence and adulthood. It affects more women than men. People with anorexia tend to view themselves as overweight, even if they are dangerously underweight. They also:

  • Monitor weight obsessively.
  • Avoid certain foods.
  • Severely restrict calories
  • Are considerably underweight compared with people of similar age and height.
  • Very restricted eating patterns
  • Fear gaining weight or persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, despite being underweight.
  • Unwilling to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem.
  • Distorted body image, including denial of being underweight.
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as an obsession with food, hoarding food or collecting recipes.
  • Difficulty eating in public.
  • Exhibit a strong desire to control the environment, limiting the ability to be spontaneous.

There are two types. Those with the restricting type lose weight solely through dieting, fasting, or excessive exercising. The secondary type may binge on large amounts of food or eat very little. In both cases, after they eat, they purge by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, or excessive exercising.

Anorexia is incredibly damaging to the body. Over time it can result in:

  • Thinning bones
  • Infertility
  • Brittle Hair and Nails
  • Growth of a layer of fine hair all over the body.
  • Heart, Brain, or Multi-Organ Failure and Death.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia begins in adolescence and early adulthood. It is also more common among women. People with bulimia eat frequently and eat unusually large amounts of food. Each episode continues until the person becomes painfully full. They cannot stop eat or control how much they eat. Binges can happen with any type of food but often occur with foods they would normally avoid. Afterward they purse to compensate and lower discomfort.

Symptoms are similar to anorexia. however, they maintain a normal weight rather than becoming underweight. Other symptoms may include:

  • recurrent episodes of binge eating with a feeling of lack of control
  • recurrent episodes of inappropriate purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • self-esteem overly influenced by body shape and weight
  • a fear of gaining weight, despite having a normal weight

Side effects may include:

  • sore throat
  • Swollen Salivary Gland
  • Worn Tooth Enamel
  • Tooth Decay
  • Acid Reflux
  • Irritation of Gut
  • Severe Dehydration
  • Hormonal disturbances

In severe cases, bulimia can also create an imbalance in levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. This can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Pica

Pica is an eating disorder where one eats things that are not considered food. They may eat dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, pebbles, laundry detergent or other potentially dangerous items. This disorder occurs in adults as well as children and adolescents. It frequently occurs in pregnant women and individuals with mental disabilities. individuals with Pica have an increased risk of poisoning, infections, injuries, and nutritional deficiencies. Pica may be fatal.

In addition, to be considered Pica the item being eaten must not be considered socially acceptable by that individual’s peers.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder is another newly recognized eating disorder. In this condition, a person regurgitates chewed and swallowed food only to re-chew and either swallow or spit it out. It usually occurs within the first 30 minutes after a meal. It is not like re-flux, it is voluntary.

While this can develop in infancy, it is also seen in children and adults. Infants tend to develop this disorder between 3–12 months of age and often disappears on its own. Children and adults with the condition usually require therapy to resolve it. It can be fatal in infants due to malnutrition and dangerous in adults resulting in caloric restriction, weight loss, and malnutrition.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a new name for an old disorder. The term replaces what was known as a “feeding disorder of infancy and early childhood,” a diagnosis previously reserved for children under 7 years old. this disorder is a childhood disorder but may persist into adulthood. It is equally common among men and women. They experience disturbed eating either due to a lack of interest in eating or distaste for certain smells, tastes, colors, textures, or temperatures.

Common symptoms of ARFID include:

  • avoidance or restriction of food intake that prevents the person from eating sufficient calories or nutrients
  • eating habits that interfere with normal social functions, such as eating with others
  • weight loss or poor development for age and height
  • nutrient deficiencies or dependence on supplements or tube feeding

It’s important to note that ARFID goes beyond normal behaviors, such as picky eating in toddlers or lower food intake in older adults. Moreover, it does not include the avoidance or restriction of foods due to lack of availability or religious or cultural practices.

Hypnosis For Eating Disorders

Hypnosis can help with these or any other undescribed eating disorders. Many of them related to fear or anxiety. As mentioned above many of these disorders have to do with fears of being overweight or anxiety about their weight. By addressing these underlying issues the client can make lasting change, preventing further bodily harm to themselves both physically and emotionally.

Stop for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of someone with an eating disorder. You get an invite from a friend to your favorite restaurant for a special occasion. Various fears may be triggered by such an invitation. They may fear going to the restaurant, being seen with their poor body image in public, fear of the actual food, or gaining weight. The list goes on. However, they cannot change how they feel.

Complementary

In addition to being effective, hypnosis is a tool we can use to change the thought patters affecting and perpetuating those behaviors. This works well as a complementary therapy to other modalities such as Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  Hypnosis for eating disorders has also been used alongside breath work, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Biofeedback, Therapeutic massage, Reiki, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and Exposure Therapy.

Length & Intervention

Hypnosis is intended to be used over a few sessions to create unconscious change in the client. We work to create new responses, thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, or feelings. The ultimate goal is to give the client greater control over their mind, body, and emotions. To help them change so that they may move forward productively with better coping mechanisms.

The hypnotist will use a variety of interventions from regression to deal with past traumas and emotions to reframing (Verbal and Imaginative Restructuring).  Additionally, the hypnotist acts a guide to help the client view themselves, their body, and their life experiences in a more positive way. Many of the interventions we would use would be similar to what we use in anxiety and fear disorders. And while not directly related to weight loss, many times the hypnotic treatment may be similar depending on the root cause.

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