How to recover from an Eating Disorder in Adelaide

Eating disorders cause significant impairment to the lives of the individuals they affect, as well social and emotional distress to their families and friends. The impairments can be in the form of physical effects, but also severe cognitive, emotional and social impacts are common. Eating disorders treated early can result in recovery and a return to fully functioning life. As eating disorders progress, they become more and more entrenched in the individuals life and they even start to adapt to their impairments and deny many of the impairments exist. Treatment at any stage of an eating disorder can significantly improve the quality of life that one enjoys. 

Our Eating Disorder dietitian provides treatment services to those living with an eating disorder to correct disordered eating behaviours. We can assist clients who have been diagnosed as having (or suspect they have) Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) or ARFID (Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder).

Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa Treatment for Adults

For anyone above the age of 16 years, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - enhanced for eating disorders (CBT-e) is a model of treatment that can be effective in addressing the symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. In this model of treatment, the coaching occurs one-to-one. The individual affected by an eating disorder will challenge their beliefs about body weight, body shape, healthy eating and compensatory actions by engaging in more helpful behaviours that they hold negative predictions about. As these new behaviours often provoke anxiety, it requires a level of commitment to treatment in order to escape the misery of an eating disorder. Behavioural experiments help individuals to understand the magnification of fear created by their eating disorder is an invalid guide to promoting their wellbeing. 

Personalised eating guides are provided to help an individual learn about adequate nourishment for their body and are used to experiment on whether eating adequately causes the negative predictions they hold. Rapid and early changes in eating behaviours are associated with more successful outcomes for individuals, and this treatment helps individuals to move their eating forward in such a way with weekly support. Throughout treatment, the individual will be able to address low self-worth and body image concerns to help facilitate improvements in eating habits. 

SSCM (Specialist Support Clinical Management) 

SSCM is an interpersonal therapy that focuses on addressing the specific destructive behaviours, which help to maintain an eating disorder. Our eating disorder dietitian will help the individual to reflect on the harm that eventuates from engaging in certain target behaviours and provides coping skills to manage the resultant anxiety and distress. A personalised eating plan is created to assist with meal planning so that adequacy can be achieved. 

Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Children and Adolescents

Our eating disorder dietitian works with families and carers to upskill their ability to re-feed adequate meals to their loved one and achieve weight re-gain within the framework of the Family Based Therapy (FBT) model. As the adolescent progresses in nutritional rehabilitation, the adolescent will gradually take back control over their eating, widen their food choices by addressing fear foods, break down the un helpful food rules they have learned and develop coping strategies for distressing meal times. FBT is a useful model of treatment for most adolescents, particularly beneficial when family units are strong and intact. A lead therapist will guide a family through FBT whilst our dietitian supports the parents or carers to prepare adequate meals. In stage 2 and 3, the dietitian is useful in helping the adolescent to plan and prioritise eating meals that provide nourishment for their optimal health. We recommend engaging with a lead therapist, trained in FBT to collaborate with us on this approach. 

The Non-Diet Approach for Binge Eating Disorder 

Binge eating disorder is a secretive and highly distressing condition that can deteriorate the metabolic, emotional and social health of individuals. A weight-neutral approach to treatment is an extremely empowering therapy that can rectify distressing binge eating episodes. Our dietitian consults one-to-one with individuals to shift their eating habits to be intuitive and inclusive of all foods. The rejection of diet culture and weight-stigma is essential to the success of this treatment. Binge eating episodes rapidly reduce in frequency as the individual learns to embrace the body's own appetite cues, eat regularly and adequately, and give up on the restrictive dieting practices they have relied upon, for often, many years.

Feeling shame and guilt is replaced with joy and compassion as one learns to introduce self-compassion into their thoughts and build on the inclusion of health behaviours in their life. 

ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) 

People who experience difficulties eating, which are not related to body image concerns, can be supported to improve their eating. ARFID is a diagnosis that can be made for someone with such eating challenges and this diagnosis helps guide such people into the appropriate support for their eating disorder. ARFID is the acronym which stands for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder and can take on several froms as described here: 

  1. People who suffer from ARFID may find that new foods have strange or intense tastes, textures or smells and they feel safer eating foods they know well.
  2. Others with ARFID have had scary experiences with food like vomiting, choking or allergic reaction, so they may insistently avoid the foods that made them feel this way, and limit themselves to safe foods.
  3. Whilst others with ARFID don't feel hungry very often, they find that eating is a chore, are disinterested in food, or get full very quickly, so end up skipping meals and eating inadequately.

People with ARFID can fall into one, two or three of these concerns. In any case, there is often a strong influence of overwhelming anxiety, which can have significant consequences for one's food variety and eating adequacy. Low body weight, nutrient deficiencies, lethargy, and interference with psychological and social functioning can all be common outcomes for people with ARFID. Despite these significant impairments, treatment of ARFID is possible and involves carefully guided food exposures, with concurrent anxiety management and strategic nutritional rehabilitation. 

How do I know which Eating Disorder I have? 

First it is helpful to complete a 28-item questionnaire available here which produces a graph to show how severe your symptoms are: 

Share the outcome of this questionnaire with your trusted health professional who can refer you to the appropriate eating disorder treatment services. 

You can also contact the Statewide Eating Disorder Service or the Butterfly Foundation Helpline for more support. 

To discuss your circumstances further or to book an appointment with our eating disorder dietitian, in Adelaide, contact us