Dominion Hospital - October 30, 2019

Many of us have challenging relationships our bodies. When that relationship takes center stage in your life, or your eating habits impact your health, or you feel like your eating habits have become a problem, it’s time to examine the motivations behind your eating and take the next step: recognizing that you need professional help.

What will help do?

Treatment programs address eating disorder symptoms and medical consequences, as well as psychological, biological, interpersonal, and cultural influences that contribute to or maintain the eating disorder. Nutritional counseling can help with planning for and monitoring rational food choices.

Early treatment is more effective, preventing the disorder becomes chronic, but even people with long-standing eating disorders can and do recover.

Is this an eating disorder?

Those with eating disorders will experience more extreme emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Do you recognize some of these symptoms in yourself?

Behavioral and emotional symptoms

  • Irrational or all-consuming thoughts about eating
  • A pattern of adhering to strict diets, regardless of weight
  • Avoiding meals or situations that involve food
  • Habitually hoarding and/or bingeing on food
  • Sneaking or hiding food consumption
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Using prescription or other drugs to suppress appetite
  • Mood changes and feelings of depression, irritability or wanting to be alone
  • Lying about food habits
  • Withdrawing from friends and family

Physical symptoms

  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Gastrointestinal issues (cramps, constipation, acid reflux)
  • Low thyroid, potassium, red blood cell, or hormone levels
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Impaired immune system
  • Dental problems (cavities, enamel erosion, sensitivity)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Brittle nails and dry hair and skin

You can also use this online screening tool from the National Eating Disorders Association to evaluate your symptoms or those of someone you care about.

How do I get help?

End the isolation and secrecy by sharing your eating habit concerns with someone you trust. You may ask them to help you identify sources of help or attend an appointment with you for support.

Alternatively, or in addition, see your primary care physician, pediatrician, internist, or family doctor. Getting a diagnosis by a healthcare provider is the first step towards recovery. They may have referrals to local therapists and dietitians who have experience in treating eating disorders.

What does treatment look like?

Treatment teams commonly include your physician (primary care physician, pediatrician, cardiologist, etc.), and a psychotherapist, dietitian, psychiatrist, other therapists, and a case manager or representative for your insurance company (if needed).

Eating disorder treatment is personal, tailored to each individual. Generally, treatment plans address a series of factors:

  • Correct life-threatening medical and psychiatric symptoms
  • Interrupt eating disorder behaviors (food restriction, excessive exercise, binge eating, purging, etc.)
  • Establish normalized eating and nutritional rehabilitation
  • Challenge unhelpful and unhealthy eating disorder and ED-related thoughts and behaviors
  • Address ongoing medical and mental health issues
  • Establish a plan to prevent relapse

Dominion Hospital Center offers a thoughtful approach that makes getting help easy. Our Reflections Eating Disorders Treatment Center offers many services and programs and we can match you with the ones that best fit your individual needs. To talk confidentially with a coordinator, 24/7 call (703) 538-2886.