Is this an eating disorder?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have recently begun to notice some disturbed thinking I have and I haven’t really been able to talk about. I have had a lot of change happen this last year in every possible area of life but my thinking patterns just seem to be more prominent and I am pretty scared to think where they may lead. I have been in therapy for depression over the last year; but haven’t been able to bring the subject up to my therapist as there are a lot of other issues I am dealing with. I have moved, lost my job, gained a new job, lost friends and mentors, started school again after 10 years, changed career paths, etc. (This could go on for another page) So there always seems to be something to work out or that brings up issues that I want to work on. However, I am afraid that my eating, or habits are harming my overall health.

I eat, but it seems more foods are going onto a, “Oh, I don’t care for that, it makes me ill, I’ll pass” list. I sit sometimes for hours thinking of how, “if I worked out that long, and worked on getting this toned, I’ll feel better.” I think about how fat I am but I wear x-small clothing. I know it is illogical thinking. I tell myself I am being ridiculous, but it seems if I don’t stay on top of it, the destructive thinking becomes a default position. I have recently begun to lose weight, not a lot, but I know I don’t need to. I don’t know how to bring this up in therapy either. I trust my therapist but I just can’t seem to verbalize this issue. My question is is could this be a response to stress or is this an eating disorder?

A: It could be both. You’ve been dealing with a lot. Sometimes when people feel overwhelmed, they try to find something where they feel in control. In your case, that may be the foods you eat and your weight. Of course, it doesn’t really work as a coping mechanism because no matter how much you distract yourself with eating issues, your other issues are still waiting for your attention.

My best suggestion to you is that you take your letter and this response to your therapist. You did a good job describing your problem. Once she knows what is troubling you, she’ll be able to ask some questions to help you verbalize any other concerns you might have. Your therapist has only what you present to her to work with. Since you do trust her, trust her with this. Your therapy will be more effective and you’ll feel better knowing that you aren’t hiding something important from the person who is trying to help you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Is this an eating disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/26/is-this-an-eating-disorder/