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Eating Disorders and the Cycle of Anger

Eating Disorders and the Cycle of Anger

Eating disorders and negative patterns with food begin with personal pain and set up a vicious cycle of anger: destructive behavior—shame—depression—self-hate—and back to anger. No matter what your food patterns, the misuse of food starts as a natural response of anger to pain. It goes something like this:

  • Something has caused tremendous pain in your life.
  • The pain hurts, and that you should experience this pain is unjust and makes you angry.
  • As you look for a way to vent this anger, to seek respite from the anger, you choose food.
  • Control of food, either through under-eating, over-eating, or intentional unhealthy eating, becomes a self-destructive behavior.
  • Your active participation in a self-destructive behavior produces feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Intense feelings of guilt and shame produce a profound sense of depression.
  • Guilt, shame and depression reinforce self-hate.
  • Self-hate says you deserve the pain.
  • Now you are angry not only at the pain in your past but at yourself for the pain in the present.
  • Once again you choose to vent this anger, to gain relief from this anger, by controlling food and continuing your self-destructive behavior.
  • Continuing this behavior produces shame and guilt.
  • Shame and guilt reinforce self-hate.
  • Self-hate says you deserve pain.
  • And the cycle continues on.

Breaking this cycle and finding the strength to disconnect from an unhealthy relationship with food requires relearning not only the proper response to food, but also the proper response to anger. Anger occurs as a natural result in life. We get angry over large and small things every day. How we deal with anger is something we are taught through either example or direct instruction. The training ground for dealing with anger is the family. Too often we have learned inappropriate ways of dealing with our anger through the examples of our families.

You’ve been numbing or avoiding your anger through your patterns with food for so long that it may be difficult for you to connect with that anger and put it into words. Oftentimes, however, recovery from your eating disorder can only be realized once you dig into the true origin of that anger.

Control over this anger has been the silent motivation behind your food patterns. But overeating, unhealthy eating, bingeing and purging, or starving your emotions into submission has only brought you a temporary respite from this emotion at a terrible physical and emotional cost.

The way to really control this feeling of anger is first to acknowledge that it is real. You need to understand your anger. You need to really feel it.

Re-experiencing your anger in its fullness is the price you must pay to free yourself from its control. Confronting your anger and those who caused it will free you for the next step—forgiveness. Only then will you be able to break the cycle of anger, and start taking back the control over your emotions and life.

If you are struggling with a cycle of anger that is fueling an eating disorder, contact the eating disorder specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166. They can help you explore support and treatment options to regain your health and well-being.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

 

Eating Disorders: Addicted to Control

Eating Disorders: Addicted to Control

The conversations about eating disorders often revolve around topics of body image and societal pressures. While these are real issues that need to be addressed, other lesser-discussed commonalities among eating disorders are the issues of addiction and control. Whether you grew up in a highly rigid, rule-ridden environment, or in an unstable environment where love, affection and support were sporadic and unpredictable, you lacked control. If every aspect of your life seemed completely out of your control, is it any wonder you chose controlling the only thing you felt you could—your own body?

In the excellent book Addiction and Grace, Dr. Gerald May defines addiction this way: “Addiction is any compulsive, habitual behavior that limits the freedom of human action. It is caused by the attachment, or nailing, of desire to specific objects. The word behavior is especially important in this definition, for it indicates that action is essential to the addiction.” The objects of desire for a person with an eating disorder, or a pattern of disordered eating, is food. For the bulimic or the overeater, it is the consumption of food. For the anorexic, it is the abstention from food. For the emotional eater, it is the pleasure or calming of food. Each of these limits the freedom to eat in a normal, healthy way. The question becomes, when was desire or control or comfort or calming nailed to food?

Eating disorders and disordered eating are all about choices. Each is a deliberate choice of how to deal with pain. These choices may have started on a subconscious level. But as the eating behavior and relationship with food progress, the choices became more and more deliberate and at the forefront of your conscious mind. For many reasons, food has become an integral part of the way you cope with life.

Understanding how you came to choose food as a coping mechanism in the past does not necessarily enable you to deal with an eating disorder or pattern of disordered eating in the present. What began as a method of controlling a difficult, painful situation has now evolved into an addiction. For this reason, it is not enough to simply address the symptoms of an eating disorder, or even to sort through the most recent, obvious causes for the disordered eating pattern. In order to truly recover from an eating disorder, you need to first unearth the deep roots causing your need for control. This can often be a difficult journey into the depths of your past, but it is the process of shining light on these dark corners that ultimately brings true healing and freedom.

The team of eating disorder treatment specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE are available to talk about opportunities to receive professional help and support during this recovery process. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

 

 

Signs that Someone Might Be at Risk for Developing an Eating Disorder

Signs that Someone Might Be at Risk for Developing an Eating Disorder

Guest blog post contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Director @ Eating Disorder Hope, and Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, it may be difficult or confusing to understand the many signs and symptoms that may be present.  Though there are many stigmas surrounding eating disorders, these diseases should not be taken lightly.  Eating disorders are severe mental health illnesses that are caused by complex factors, such as biological, psychological, and environmental reasons.

Many of the misconceptions about eating disorders concern the reasons why eating disorders develop.  Unlike a diet fad or the latest dieting trend, eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating patterns and disturbed eating behaviors.  These disorders are not simply an attempt to “lose weight”, or a “disease of vanity”.  Whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder, these psychiatric diseases develop and progress over time.  To heal from an eating disorder, a professional treatment team is needed to address the many factors involved.

With over 20 million women and 10 million men suffering from eating disorders in the United States, it is important to understand the signs that someone might be at risk for developing an eating disorder.  Identifying these diseases as early as possible improves the chances for interventions and treatment outcomes.  Thankfully, treatment methods are improving as eating disorders are better understood by researchers and health care professionals.  While it may feel daunting to face the fact that you or someone you love has an eating disorder, recognizing what you are struggling with will only help the recovery process.

Given the complexity of eating disorders, it is critical to be aware of the different ways symptoms may appear.  Eating disorders impact a person’s physical health, emotional well-being, relationships, finances, and more.  If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, look for these signs and symptoms:

  • Abnormal food behaviors, rituals, or eating patterns, such as eating unusual portion sizes, cutting food into tiny pieces, hiding food, or purposely eating alone.
  • Fixation with food, weight loss, and/or body image
  • Obsession with counting calories, fat grams, nutrient content of foods, etc
  • Heighted depression, lethargy, and/or anxiety
  • Withdrawal from relationships, social functions, family, and friends
  • Severely restricting caloric intake, resulting in unstable weight loss
  • Intense fear of eating and/or weight gain
  • Episodes of bingeing on a very large amount of food, followed by purging
  • Feelings of guilt or shame in regards to eating or body image
  • Feeling out of control while eating

While these symptoms may indicate that an eating disorder is developing, it is necessary to see a qualified health professional for a full assessment and diagnosis.  If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, it is important that you seek the help and guidance of a medical professional.  Your life is valuable, and recovery from an eating disorder is possible, no matter what has brought you to this point in your journey.  Though it may be scary to reach out and ask for the help you need, you are taking the most vital step in reclaiming your life and finding freedom from an eating disorder.

Detour of Denial: Accepting Pain of Past Key to Eating Disorder Treatment

Detour of Denial: Accepting Pain of Past Key to Eating Disorder Treatment

When someone seeks treatment for an eating disorder, they want help addressing the immediate issue at hand — their anorexic, bulimic, or compulsive overeating behavior.

What they often have a hard time accepting, though, is that there’s a lot more to it than that.

Though there are a number of ways to directly address disordered eating behavior, the key to long-term recovery is delving into something most people are understandably fearful of — a painful past.

“Individuals with eating disorders are often unaware of the source of their pain,” writes A Place of Hope founder Dr. Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help and Healing For Eating Disorders: The Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

“I believe this is God’s way of protecting us. In order to survive as children, we block out abusive behavior. But somewhere along the line, the adult must discover the wellspring of pain from the past.”

“Denial is a significant detour in that quest.”

The Double-Whammy of Denial

When you deny the truth of your past, you deny yourself peace in the present. Add to that your abuser’s denial of the truth, and that’s a pretty powerful discounting of self to live with all your life.

1) Your denial of what happened to you.

We commonly deny the pain of the past through self-talk that might sound a lot like:

Sound familiar?

If so, it is critical that you know the truth. Your memory and your feelings about the past are valid. You have a right to your anger. You have a right to your pain.

2) Your abuser‘s denial of what they did to you.

While your abuser may acknowledge the behavior that was hurtful to you, they may also minimize its weight in similar-sounding language as your own internal dialogue, much of which takes on tones of blame:

  • It wasn’t that big of a deal.
  • You’re too sensitive.
  • You were a handful.
  • I had to be tough with you.

Then there are those abusers who deny their behavior entirely, hoping a vehement denial will cause you to doubt yourself, your memory, your truth.

Finding Your Way To Acceptance

It’s time to get to the root of your eating disorder. If you haven’t already, seek the help of a professional counselor. With their help you can start accepting the pain of your past. While the person who hurt you may never view their behavior as abusive, it is possible for you to accept their version of what happened, just as it is possible for them to accept yours.

Positive Affirmation: God gives me courage each day as I walk on my healing journey.

For more information on eating disorder treatment, please call The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form.

At A Place of Hope, treatment for eating disorders is not “one size fits all”

If there is one thing we have learned in our over two decades of offering treatment for eating disorders, it is that there is no “snapping out of it.” The issues behind eating disorders are far too complex to be so dismissive to someone who is suffering in a very real way. A Place of Hope knows that the issues you are experiencing in regard to weight and food are real. We also know that your experience, while sharing commonalities with others suffering from eating disorders, is unique because you are an individual with unique life experiences. That said, treatment should not be “one size fits all,” and it never is at our Center for Counseling and Health Resources.

For the uninitiated, A Place of Hope approaches treatment for eating disorders and other issues using our patented “whole-person” approach. This means focusing on the following areas of you as a person:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Relational
  • Intellectual
  • Nutritional
  • Spiritual

Each of us as individuals has a lifetime of experiences in each of these areas. The idea behind the whole person approach is to take a good look at these areas and any issues you may be experiencing in them in order to get to the core issues behind your eating disorder. This focus on you and your unique life experiences allows us to facilitate a recovery process that resonates with you in a real and lasting way.

An atmosphere of compassion and support is what will serve you well as you approach treatment and commit yourself to your recovery. You will find just such an atmosphere at A Place of Hope. We want you to feel comfortable being yourself while you are here, and to share your experiences freely and with the knowledge that you are accepted for who you are.

When it comes to eating disorders there is no “snapping out of it.” There is, however, hope and the knowledge that a lasting recovery is absolutely within your reach. Let us help you to address and overcome the issues at the heart of your eating disorder, and reclaim the life you so richly deserve.

The shame you are feeling over your eating disorder can be replaced with compassion and hope

There is a great deal of shame involved with eating disorders. Shame over your body’s shape and size. Shame for depriving your body of the food and nutrients it needs. Shame over a million different things related to your self-image and the issues you are experiencing. If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to remember that you are not alone.

A Place of Hope has been treating eating disorders compassionately and with great results for over two decades. We are familiar with the shame you are feeling, and how difficult it is for you to reach out for the help you need, or even believe that such help is possible. We are here to tell you that it is. When you reach out to us for treatment, you will find an environment of compassion, support and understanding of who you are and what you are going through. There is no shaming here, only total acceptance. And by getting to the core of who you are as a person, we can begin to help you heal in a real and lasting way.

The extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors associated with weight and food issues are ones that many others share with you here in this moment. Part of what makes treatment at our Center for Counseling and Health Resources so healthy is the realization that you are not alone in terms of what you are experiencing. While your experiences as an individual with an eating disorder are certainly unique, the support you find in terms of those who can relate to what you are experiencing can be an invaluable tool in your recovery.

We know that the issues you are experiencing may seem overwhelming, and though your situation may feel hopeless the truth is that hope is always available to you. It takes great courage to reach out for help, but when you do the rewards can be beautiful and offer renewal in your life. If you are suffering from an eating disorder you are not alone. Compassion, support and understanding are available to you today at A Place of Hope.