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Eating disorders: how hypnosis can help

February 18, 2024
5 min 15 sec
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Eating disorders are complex conditions that affect people across the globe, of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. At their core, these disorders are not just about food but are really a result of complicated emotional health and self-perception. 

This guide is designed to discuss the layers of eating disorders, shedding light on their symptoms, consequences, and bodily effects, while also introducing balanced dietary practices, as well as explain the role of hypnosis in promoting a healthy eating mindset. 

Symptoms of eating disorders

Eating disorders manifest in various forms, each with unique symptoms that can impact every aspect of your life. Recognizing these symptoms early can be essential for seeking help and beginning recovery. 

Today, we will look at the common signs associated with the major eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

  • Anorexia Nervosa: people with anorexia often see themselves as overweight, even if they are underweight. They obsessively weigh themselves, severely restrict their food intake, and have a profound fear of gaining weight. Symptoms include extreme thinness, an intense fear of weight gain, and a distorted body image.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as forced vomiting, use of laxatives, or extreme exercise. Symptoms include eating large amounts of food in short periods, feeling a lack of control during binges, and using unhealthy methods to prevent weight gain.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder: Similar to bulimia, binge-eating disorder involves episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food. However, people do not regularly use purging behaviors, like vomiting or excessive exercise, after a binge. Symptoms include eating rapidly during binge episodes, eating until uncomfortably full, and feeling guilty or distressed afterward.
  • Common signs across all disorders: Beyond specific symptoms, there are common signs that might indicate someone is struggling with an eating disorder. These include obsession with food, dieting, and body weight, changes in mood or behavior, social withdrawal, and changes in eating habits or routines.

If you’re experiencing, or know anyone who is experiencing similar symptoms of eating disorders, it is very important to seek guidance from health and nutrition professionals

When you have a healthy relationship with food, you understant that weight loss means not only to eat less but to eat better—choosing quality, nutritious foods over quantity, instead of starving your body or over-exercising. 

Recognizing the symptoms of eating disorders early will lead to quicker recovery and more healthy results.

Eating disorders: their effects on your body

Eating disorders, while often starting as psychological issues, have severe and sometimes irreversible effects on the body. The seriousness of these symptoms on the body make early intervention absolutely essential. As we will see, the effects of these eating disorders can affect the entire person, body and mind..

  • Gastrointestinal and nutritional effects: Restrictive eating patterns can lead to a range of gastrointestinal issues, including constipation, bloating, and stomach pain. Over time, malnutrition can occur, characterized by deficiencies in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and proteins. This malnutrition can cause anemia, weakened immune system, and, in severe cases, can be life-threatening.
  • Cardiovascular impact: Eating disorders, particularly those involving severe calorie restriction or purging, can strain the heart. This strain can lead to changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and even heart failure. The risk of developing heart diseases is significantly increased, making cardiovascular issues one of the most dangerous aspects of eating disorders.
  • Bone density and osteoporosis: Especially in anorexia nervosa, the lack of essential nutrients coupled with hormonal imbalances can lead to decreased bone density, making bones weak and brittle. This condition, known as osteoporosis, increases the risk of fractures and can cause permanent damage to the skeletal system.
  • Hormonal and reproductive health: Eating disorders can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to irregularities in the menstrual cycle or even amenorrhea (the absence of menstruation). These hormonal changes can affect fertility and, if left untreated, can result in long-term reproductive health issues.
  • Mental health effects: Beyond the physical, eating disorders take a significant toll on mental health. The stress of living with an eating disorder can increase symptoms of anxiety, depression, and lead to a distorted body image that further impacts one’s quality of life.

The effects of eating disorders on the body are severe and affect virtually every system in the human body. Recovery involves not only addressing the psychological aspects of the disorder but also repairing the physical damage done. 

Comprehensive treatment plans that include medical care, nutritional counseling, and psychological support are essential for healing both the mind and body.

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Learning how to eat and enjoy eating again

Recovery from these eating disorders must be carried out by a professional. However, once the most critical moments of recovery have been addressed, you will have to learn to eat again. Part of the recovery process is creating a balanced diet and a healthy relationship with food in the future. These strategies will act as tools to face day to day life after recovery:

  1. Understanding nutritional needs: A balanced diet includes a variety of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Understanding the role of each nutrient and ensuring a diet that includes all of them is the foundation of healthy eating. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins are essential for repair and growth, fats support cell function, and vitamins and minerals are crucial for various bodily processes.
  2. Avoiding restrictive diets: Restrictive dieting can be a trigger for those with a history of eating disorders. Instead of eliminating food groups, focus on moderation and variety. Incorporating a wide range of foods ensures that you get all the necessary nutrients and helps reduce the risk of falling back into harmful eating patterns.
  3. Listening to your body: Learning to listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues is vital. Eating should be in response to physical hunger rather than emotional needs. This practice, known as intuitive eating, encourages a healthier relationship with food, where eating is based on internal cues rather than external diet rules or restrictions.
  4. Planning meals and snacks: Having a plan for regular meals and snacks can help ensure that you're eating a balanced diet throughout the day. Planning ahead also reduces the likelihood of impulsive eating decisions that may not align with nutritional needs.

Read our post on how to meal prep for weight loss

  1. Practicing hypnosis: Hypnosis can significantly help in achieving a balanced diet by influencing the subconscious mind, where our deepest habits concerning food are formed. It uses relaxation and positive suggestions to change unhealthy eating behaviors into beneficial ones. This method promotes mindful eating, helping you make choices that align with their nutritional needs and overall health. By overcoming food-related anxieties and learning to respond to the body's natural cues, hypnosis supports a sustainable and healthy approach to eating, facilitating a harmonious relationship with food.

Read more on learning self-hypnosis and how hypnosis can help with weight loss

Make informed choices, learn to trust your body, and look to develop a sustainable and healthy relationship with food, for long-term recovery and well-being.

Oneleaf can be your support

Eating disorders must be addressed by a professional. However, Oneleaf can offer its support by addressing areas that affect your mind. 

The most important thing in this case is to help your mind find a good relationship with food, to help you see yourself better, and learn to love yourself. Regaining self-confidence, strengthening the relationships with those who have been with you during the process, or even regaining focus in your day-to-day life are also part of the recovery, so you can be yourself once again. 

Access a 7-day free trial.

If you believe that you or someone close to you may be suffering from an eating disorder, seek professional help.

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