If you suffer from an eating disorder or obesity and are searching for a solution, it’s important to know that not all help is equal. Eating disorder treatment is not always effective. How can you be sure that the treatment you are seeking will work?
Having been helping people with eating disorders and addictions for 30+ years, and having overcome eating disorders ourselves, we have identified 5 key points that we believe are crucial for successful treatment. When researching your options, have this checklist available. The closer your options come to meeting these criteria, the better your chance of success.
Seek help for an eating disorder from those who have “been there”
People with eating disorders have been used to being told by well meaning therapists, doctors, dieticians and coaches to just “eat intuitively, eat several small meals, seek balance, etc.” It’s sound advice but close to impossible to follow at times if you’re a real emotional eater and turn to food and aberrant habits as a way to cope with life. There is a “disconnect” when you are trying to get help from someone who has neither been in your shoes, nor truly understands how you think and feel. Somebody who has not lived the hell you are living (the self-hatred, the insanity of the food obsession and the powerlessness to control your behavior, etc.) will have trouble reaching you because in the back of your mind you will think: “they don’t really understand me”. It’s too easy to tune them out – feeling even more isolated and alone with our problems than ever.
Getting help from those who have actually “been there” and have overcome the problem is the only way to heal in the deepest way. Not only will the information make sense because it’s based on personal experience, but it will penetrate deeply. Your heart will open to healing when you believe that those who are helping you truly understand what you are going through.
Help must have a spiritual component.
Much of the help available today primarily addresses the psychological and physical aspects of eating disorders. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. People spend years visiting therapists and working with dieticians, yet continue to harm themselves with food. Their brains are filled with sound psychological insight as well as information about calories, exercise, eating schedules and nutrition, yet they continue to give in to their food cravings.
The truth is that eating disorders, emotional eating and addictions are driven by a soul-sickness that no amount of intellectual understanding or personal will power can heal. A person must be given spiritual tools they can use and rely on when their own personal resources fail. (It’s important to note that there is a difference between spirituality and religion. In this case we recommend the exploration of spirituality.) By being encouraged to cultivate a belief in a higher power that is loving and ever-available for support and strength, a person can begin to depend on that power for the intervention and grace that can help them stop their destructive behavior.
Because this is so vital for healing, it’s important that your treatment plan include the spiritual component.
The solution must address the underlying causes.
There is no hope of overcoming an eating disorder without looking beyond the eating disorder. Obsession with food and weight and other addictions are symptoms of deeper problems. They conveniently distract us from the unhappiness and self-loathing that lie underneath the disordered eating. Any treatment program that focuses on primarily on food, body image and weight management is missing the point.
You must be supported in examining the cause of the self-loathing and self-destruction. When you heal the negativity that lies below the surface of your problem, you can begin to develop self-esteem. When you develop self-esteem, you want to treat your body with respect and love. Your problem isn’t really about food and weight. Finding a program that reinforces this and addresses the underlying problem is essential.
Recovery includes making life changes.
Many treatment centers consider a person to be “cured”, or well on their way, if their symptoms of anorexia, bulimia or obesity lessen while in treatment. But that is only the barest of beginnings. If you leave treatment and return to the same life you were living when you went to treatment, your chances of recovery are slim.
Eating disorders are symptomatic of living a life that is severely out of balance. Recovery comes when a person makes concrete, significant changes in her life. Change must be deeper than food behavior and diet. Change includes new ways of communicating, thinking, relating to people, and prioritizing your life. It is the hard, but necessary, ongoing changes in one’s life that enable a person to truly live free from food and body obsession. Treatment must include ongoing care and change in order to be effective. Be sure that the help you seek isn’t skin-deep. There is no success without a commitment to real life change.
It must work.
“Does the treatment work?” People turn to treatment centers, doctors and counselors for answers but often forget to stop and ask if the help they are receiving is actually making a real difference. They may feel comforted and supported, but is it actually relieving their symptoms? And if the answer is “yes”, find out how much the symptoms are changing. Most people feel that going from purging 7 times a day to 3 is good enough. But how good can one’s quality of life be when one is still purging (or bingeing) at all? Progress of any kind is never to be discounted and is always important.
Because the clients who go through The Nelson Method routinely report that their compulsion to practice their eating disorder has been lifted, effortlessly, we know that settling for a toning down of one’s behaviors isn’t good enough. Be sure that the help you’re seeking offers an actual solution that shows results.
These 5 key elements for successful eating disorder treatment are crucial for true success. It’s easy to let the desperation of this disorder drive you to spend money now and ask questions later. While only you can issue the permit for freedom, getting the right help along the way can make all the difference in the world. To learn more about the Nelson Method and our treatment programs, call us today.