Eating Disorders

Can you choose to have an eating disorder?

Eating disorders (ED) are complex mental health problems. Anyone, regardless of race, age or background can develop and ED. It is not your fault if you have one. Fault and blame often go hand in hand. I have trained to work in a sensitive way that doesn’t seek to blame you or anybody else in your life.

I have several years of experience working with eating disorders. I work with women, men, the BAME and LGBTQA community. I have an empathic, non-judgemental nature and I am acutely aware of how shame stops many clients from seeking help to address their eating disorder.

Why people get eating disorders

What exactly causes an eating disorders? Research has shown that there isn’t one single cause that brings about an eating disorder so there is no need to blame yourself or feel ashamed. Instead there are factors that can predispose you to develop an eating disorder as a way of coping with one or more overwhelming experiences that you feel unable to manage in any other way. Predisposing factors include but are not limited to:

  • Genetics
  • Psychological make up (sensitivity, for example)
  • Issues with your body
  • Development
  • Trauma
  • Personality
  • Environment
  • Culture
  • Family system

However not everyone who has been traumatised or has body issues, will develop an eating disorder. When people do it’s usually because they have experienced challenging life events such as for example

  • teasing
  • bullying
  • maturation
  • divorce, separation, loss
  • sexual orientation or gender identity issues
  • stress
  • puberty/ adolescence

In short, we can refer to these events as precipitating factors. They offer the eating disorder an opportunity to emerge as a distorted coping mechanism.

Do men get eating disorders?

Yes, Men get eating disorders too. Unfortunately statistical data is limited and men are less likely to seek help out of fear that they might be branded as gay. It is estimated that out of:

100’000 men

  • 19 are affected by anorexia nervosa and
  • 29 are affected by bulimia

What triggers an eating disorder in men?

Eating disorders in men are often brought one by one ore more the following:

  • relationship breakdown
  • career changes or pressures at work
  • difficult coping with pressure overall
  • Illness or loss
  • bullying and criticism for being overweight
  • practising sports that require extreme weight control
  • comments from sports coaches

Research implies that for most men the eating disorder starts to take root when they get into exercising. Reflecting on your experience as you are reading this, would you say that the same applied to you or have you identified a different path?

It is only with time that the desire to attain a perfect body, becomes more obvious and later on develops into an obsession, which leads you to limit food intake. To anyone observing from the outside, this tendency can simply be overlooked as a wish to become healthier. You can probably recall yourself that at first you went through a stage of being toned, fit and muscular and the eating disorder only manifested much later. This is what makes it harder for a man to notice the onset of the eating disorder and make it more challenging to treat it because the eating disorder has a stronger chance to become embedded long before you start noticing it.

 

Worry you have lost control over how much food you eat?

Hi! My name is Flavio Cernotta. I have several years experience working with Eating Disorders and have undergone specialist training with strong experiential components. Together we can explore what has triggered the ED and work on overcoming the factors that are keeping you stuck.

Fully qualified experienced eating disorder therapist. BACP registered and ready to help you!

***FREE*** First Step to Recovery

Contact me with a brief description of the problem. The first conversation is FREE OF CHARGE

West London, East London, Online Therapy, telephone counselling - please enter above
Please specify if you are looking for daytime, evening or weekend appointments

My interest in working with eating disorders began when a client, who had been seeing me for some time, found the courage to open up about the challenges they were experiencing around food and body image. This prompted me to embark on an in-depth training course. As part of this, I explored my own issues with food and body image. I became more aware of the impact that eating disorders, dieting and body image issues had on myself and my family across the generations.

My mother was obsessed with dieting and I have clear memories of her trying desperately and drastically to loose weight only to gain it later on. To this day, my father attaches a lot of importance to weight loss and appearance. One of the first things he does when I visit him is to comment on my own weight, body and eating habits.

A couple of years ago a young relative in my family developed anorexia. Whilst there is no direct link of cause and effect between the behaviour of family members and the onset of an eating disorder, the role models that we are exposed to whilst growing up, can predispose someone to develop an eating disorder. However the predisposing is not the same as causing as many who are exposed who are exposed to the predisposing factors don’t develop an eating disorder. Attending the course, shone the light on my past tendencies to use food to regulate emotions, punish myself/others and exerting control. It further increased awareness of my body image and how its perceptions can change, even very subtly, depending on how I feel about myself.

What has become clear to me as I have reflected on my own relationship with food is that the preoccupation of my family with food and body shape is a symptom of what did not get talked about at home such as the stress and anxiety caused by my father’s drinking, my mother’s anxiety, her lack of confidence and self esteem. Being raised in such a stressful environment has primed me to use food to regulate my emotions and exert a level of control I did not feel I had at the time.

Ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?

Hi! My name is Flavio Cernotta. I have several years experience working with Eating Disorders and have undergone specialist training with strong experiential components. Together we can explore what has triggered the ED and work on overcoming the factors that are keeping you stuck.

Fully qualified experienced eating disorder therapist. BACP registered and ready to help you!

***FREE*** First Step to Recovery

Contact me with a brief description of the problem. The first conversation is FREE OF CHARGE

West London, East London, Online Therapy, telephone counselling - please enter above
Please specify if you are looking for daytime, evening or weekend appointments

As my journey of self development has continued over the years, I have noticed that as my issues stemming from my chaotic family system have been addressed, food and body image have become less important. Incidentally that is also what I notice when working with clients. The more we address the underlying issues the less importance they attach to food and body image as a way to manage life. It becomes easier for them to take practical steps to break habits linked to the eating disorder and to lead a more fulfilling life.

What are some facts about eating disorders?

  • BEAT estimate that 1.25 million adults in the UK have an eating disorder.
  • 80-85% of people with an eating disorders are not underweight (Fairburn Harrison 2003)
  • The NHS has found that 6.4% of adults display signs of eating disorder.
  • Of those clients with an eating disorder, 10% have anorexia, 40% have bulimia.
  • The remainder have an eating disorder that is not otherwise specified (EDNOS) or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

Do I have an eating disorder? Have I got an eating disorder?

The SCOFF screening tool designed by Prof Morgan can help you understand if you have an eating disorder:

  • Do you ever make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that Food dominates your life?

Two or more positive answers are a positive screen.

Do I have an eating disorder or an eating problem?

An eating disorder is defined

  • by extreme shape and weight control behaviour that is harmful
  • and affects your physical and psychological health
  • it is not secondary to other mental health problems even though these might be co-morbid

An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult.

Would you say food rules your life?

Hi! My name is Flavio Cernotta. I have several years experience working with Eating Disorders and have undergone specialist training with strong experiential components. Together we can explore what has triggered the ED and work on overcoming the factors that are keeping you stuck.

Fully qualified experienced eating disorder therapist. BACP registered and ready to help you!

***FREE*** First Step to Recovery

Contact me with a brief description of the problem. The first conversation is FREE OF CHARGE

West London, East London, Online Therapy, telephone counselling - please enter above
Please specify if you are looking for daytime, evening or weekend appointments

Consider asking yourself this question:

“Are difficult feelings or situations causing me to change eating habits or feel differently about food?”

If the answer is yes you could have an eating disorder or be developing one.

Binge eating and Binge-eating disorder

Binge eating involves eating a lot of food in short amount of time and not have the ability to stop when you are full. It is important to understand that people who binge do not consciously choose to eat large amounts of food, nor do they choose to indulge themselves. Binges are actually very distressing and people who binge eat often report feeling out of control with or disconnected from the experience of over eating to the point where they forget what they have eaten after the binge.

The key symptom of binge eating is

  • to eat large quantities of food in a short space of time and being unable to stop when you are full

Other symptoms include:

  • eating when not feeling hungry
  • eating very fast during a binge
  • eating on your own or secretly because you are embarrassed/ashamed of the quantity you are eating
  • feelings of shame, disgust, guilt or depression during or after the binge

Binge eating treatment therapy

Working with you , I will support you to tackle your binge eating disorder by using a parallel track process that covers both nutritional and psychological problems.

Nutritional rehabilitation will involve helping you to develop new eating habits to help regulate blood sugar and protect you from cravings. In addition to this we will reflect on your behaviour around food.

Psychological problems that we will aim to address include but may not be limited to:

  • exploring emotions and learning to contain them
  • body image problems and “feeling fat”
  • relationship problems (including family problems)
  • perfectionism
  • low self esteem
  • lack of self worth
  • beliefs and thoughts about food such as black and white thinking

Binge eating disorder is a complex mental health problem that touches many aspects of your life so taking a holistic approach that looks at your body, mind and feelings is likely to be a much more effective way to change your relationship with food and help you regain control not only over your eating behaviour but also render you more assertive in dealing with aspects of your every day life so that binging becomes redundant as a distorted coping strategy for issues affecting your life.

Who do I talk to about eating disorders?

Eating disorders are a specialist area of counselling. I have trained with the National Centre for Eating Disorders in the UK. The training has a significant experiential component, which has required me to explore my relationship with food and apply strategies for change to my own issues.

I have specialised eating disorder oriented supervision with a leading supervisor in the field. This is in addition to my regular supervision.

Taking the the first step to come to therapy can be daunting. It is important that you choose someone you like and trust. This will help you build a good working relationship , which is key to our work.

Lost more then one stone in a three month period?

Hi! My name is Flavio Cernotta. I have several years experience working with Eating Disorders and have undergone specialist training with strong experiential components.  Together we can explore what has triggered the ED and work on overcoming the factors that are keeping you stuck.

Fully qualified experienced eating disorder therapist. BACP registered and ready to help you!

***FREE*** First Step to Recovery

Contact me with a brief description of the problem. The first conversation is FREE OF CHARGE

West London, East London, Online Therapy, telephone counselling - please enter above
Please specify if you are looking for daytime, evening or weekend appointments

 

“…This is my safe space where I am learning to listen to and accept myself and make changes at my own pace whilst recovering from my eating disorder…”

(Julie, West London)

 

References:

  • NCFED (2021)
  • BEAT (2020)