Eating Struggles

It goes without saying that we live in a culture that places a lot of value on being thin. This is especially true for women. Whether through such things as apparently innocent social comments or advertisements, it seems that around every turn there is some sort of message reminding us of how important it is to be thin. We are constantly surrounded with tempting advertisements for fast and tasty foods that promise both to save us time and make us feel good. Who knows, this might partly explain why the majority of people in our country have, at one time or another, tried some sort of dieting or exercise program. It would certainly be the rare person who has never been concerned about their weight or body image and done something, like dieting or exercise, to try to improve it in some way. It would also be the rare person who has never had times when they have eaten far too much food.  


For some people, and understandably so, issues around weight, eating, and body image take on a life of their own and become problematic. This is unfortunately the case for over 5 million people in our country. While eating and weight struggles are very common, their nature and extent can vary widely from person to person. Sometimes, eating and weight struggles have to do with eating an overly large amount of food in a very short period of time. The official term used to describe this happening is binge-eating or binging. Other times the struggles involve doing things to avoid weight gain. These are commonly referred to as compensatory behaviors. Compensatory behaviors include not eating or severely restricting food, self-inducing vomiting, exercising excessively, or misusing laxatives and diuretics.  


Finally, eating and weight struggles are often characterized by some mixture of both binging and compensating, although it is entirely possible to primarily struggle with one or the other. Different combinations of these habits, such as doing more binging then compensating, doing a lot of compensatory behaviors and little binging, or only binging, can lead to widely different body weights. For some, these habits can end up leaving them with a body weight that is too heavy. For others, they may have the opposite impact- leaving them with a body weight that is too low. Still others may be able to maintain normal body weight even though there is a significant amount of both binging and compensating.   


Despite leading to these sometimes wide outward differences in terms of weight, inwardly, eating struggles tend to impact people in similar ways. They often lead people to have such feelings as sadness/depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, and disgust. Most of all, eating issues can decrease people's ability to experience a sense of satisfaction and pleasure in life's daily ups and downs. At our Center we offer a relatively short-term type of therapy that combines elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. This treatment has been shown to be effective in treating eating and weight struggles. For those already involved in a different type of treatment outside of our Center, this particular therapy may serve as a useful, temporary addition.