Individual Counseling & Therapy | Columbia, Mo
What is disordered eating? Is it the same thing as an eating disorder?
Our team at The Counseling Hub understands disordered eating to be a preoccupation with food or eating that might not constitute an eating disorder. In essence, disordered eating is used as an umbrella term for any and all eating or food-related issues. And while ating disorders can fall under the umbrella of disordered eating, disordered eating doesn’t fall under the umbrella of an eating disorder.
Something important about this whole notion is that identifying disordered eating habits in your life without a diagnosis of an eating disorder doesn’t mean that you and your concerns shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Disordered eating can be devastating and debilitating. It can take up a lot of space and time and can be excruciating to deal with alone. This is partly why we offer individual counseling for eating-related issues; it takes support and tenacity to address these concerns.
Our approach is that any concerns you might have about eating or eating-related things is significant. And that shame you might be feeling about even struggling with this in the first place? We also think that’s really important to tend to, make space for, and help to heal.
What do you mean by “eating-related issues?”
Good question. We could get technical and talk about the various diagnoses (i.e., anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder), but the reality is that people don’t have to have a diagnosis to struggle with food. Shorthand version of what we’re talking about is folks who are preoccupied with food, eating, calories, weight, and their body. You don’t have to be all of those things - it could be that one resonates with you the most.
Eating-related issues can manifest in any of the following ways, if not more.
spend lots of time and mental energy (daily/hourly) thinking about food, calories, or weight
eat certain foods to feel better or cope with stress (as one of your main sources of coping)
eat when you’re not hungry or don’t eat when you are hungry
have no awareness of your hungry/full cues
have constant awareness of the amount of calories you’ve ingested in a day
have no control over stopping yourself from eating more once you’ve started
cycle between eating nothing and eating to the point of feeling excruciatingly full (and still struggle to stop)
think of food as “good” or “bad”
beat yourself up if you eat something you’re not “supposed to”
think about how your body compares with others throughout the day with an emphasis on how you don’t measure up
find ways to get rid of “extra” calories you’ve ingested, through a variety of mechanisms (laxatives, exercise, purging, planned restriction, etc.)
equate the size of your body with your self-worth and self-esteem
I don’t have issues with food, it’s my body I don’t like…
Okay, so we understand your logic (sorta). It’s not the food that’s the issue, it’s that fact that it makes your body morph into something you don’t like. And then from there, it’s that if we just modified what we were eating, we’d be in a place that we felt happy with our body.
The difficult truth is that this won’t happen.
We hate being the bearer of bad news, and you might not believe us yet, but we promise it’s true. Loving yourself for who you are, period, is part of the work we do. That means loving and accepting yourself as is. Please don’t equate that with never making changes or never setting goals; it’s about acceptance of right now while striving to be a better version of yourself. And “better version of yourself” has nothing (absolutely nothing) with how you look.
Our point is this.
If you’re consistently trying to perfect your body, then it might actually be body image work that needs to be done in counseling. Which totally makes sense because body image is very frequently related to disordered eating. They don’t have to be related 100% of the time, but they hang out together enough that it’s something we spend time asking about when folks come in for session.
Do I have anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder?
As much as we’d love to answer that question for you, it’s impossible to say without meeting you to discuss. There’s nuance to each of these, and even though they seem like they’re really different things, the reality is that answers aren’t usually so cut and dry. We’ll be totally transparent with you throughout counseling, but we can’t give you an answer right now.
Can men have eating disorders, too?
This is a resounding, absolute, emphatic yes. Yes, yes, and yes, men can absolutely have eating disorders or struggle with disordered eating.
To identify as male and struggle with eating can come with its own type of shame. Men tend to think that they’re immune to eating-related issues, or they think that they shouldn’t struggle with body-image issues, but the reality is that men can and do struggle with both (and more). We work with all genders and are happy to help our male-identified clients work through their eating-related issues.
Okay, I’m intrigued. I’d like to know what my next steps would be.
That’s easy enough. Your next steps are to contact us! You can do that through emailing us, by heading over to our contact page to submit your information, or by clicking the button below. We’re happy to answer any questions you might have or get you started with counseling!