Eating Disorders

All About Eating Disorders

Sandyford Wellness Centre are Specialists in Weight, Food & Body Image Issues – Emotional & Binge Eating, “Serial Dieting” and Body Dissatisfaction.

Anyone of any age, and any size, can have a disordered relationship with food.  If you are looking for counselling or support for any form of disordered eating, we can help.

Eating Disorders have always been a key area of speciality here at Sandyford Wellness Centre. Our Counsellors/psychotherapists are fully qualified and have years of experience working with clients struggling with everything from Anorexia and Bulimia, to Emotional Eating, Binge Eating and Serial Dieting.  In a safe and confidential environment, we aim to establish a trusting relationship with clients which facilitates easing distress and bringing about positive change.

Disordered Eating of any kind is NOT about Food or Weight, it is about Feelings

One of the most common myths about eating disorders is that they are about food, or weight.  This is not the case.  Eating disorders are a way of coping with difficult feelings and emotions. 

The second most common myth about disordered eating is that is only affects teen or young adult women, and all sufferers are ‘thin’ and starving themselves.  The truth is that only 1 in 10 sufferers have Anorexia, and the most common Eating Disorder by far is Binge Eating Disorder (BED).  Sufferers are equally balanced between men and women, and it is the most underdiagnosed condition in the area of disordered eating, because many sufferers will only see themselves as someone who keeps failing at dieting, without knowing or acknowledging that the emotional eating/comfort eating/bingeing is a key part of the problem.

A person engaging in any form of abnormal behaviour around food or weight, is doing so because they are trying to avoid dealing with something else. It is usually very difficult for someone with an eating disorder to talk about their problems with others.  The first problem is not being able to talk about their feelings or emotions when something upsetting or difficult happens.  When the eating disordered behaviour gets out of control, it’s hard to talk about that.  Sufferers feel ashamed and guilty. a lot of the time.

A common personality trait that is associated with eating disorders is being a ‘perfectionist’ or high achieving.  Clients often talk about being the one that others turn to for help and advice, being seen as strong and able to cope.  This makes it even harder to reach out to friends and family for help and support.

What are the signs of an Eating Disorder?

You might be overly concerned with food and your weight, and generally be restricting your food intake;

You might be obsessed and very controlling around food based on your beliefs around healthy eating, being strictly vegetarian or vegan for reasons of weight control, or overly concerned that food is completely unprocessed, or organic, or raw, and you may or may not also be very strict around exercise.

You may be highly restrictive and highly controlled around your food intake, reducing your food more and more, women may lose their periods which is a key sign that you are ill with Anorexia,

You may be compulsively overexercising;

You might always be ‘on a diet’ but find you cannot ‘stick to it’, and regularly overeat, binge or comfort eat;

You might restrict, binge and then purge;

You might not categorise yourself as having an ‘eating disorder’ at all, but believe your problem is lack of willpower! But you’ve been on the ‘Diet/Crash/Binge/Guilt/Diet’ cycle for years;

If you tick three or more of these boxes, it is likely you are currently struggling with Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal in a short period of time;
  • Eating until uncomfortably full;
  • Eating large amounts of food when you are not physically hungry;
  • Eating alone or secretly;
  • Binge eating like this at least once a week for at least three months;
  • Feeling shame, guilt, disgust and embarrassment about your eating.
  • Strong feelings of dislike or even hatred towards you own body, and/or about your weight.

The Eating Freely Program is a specialist program for binge eating, providing structured support over 14 sessions – 12 with a Psychotherapist, and 2 with a Nutritional Therapist – to successfully overcome binge eating and find true freedom around food.  To find out more visit: Eating Freely 12 Week Program for Binge Eating

What are the Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

Withdrawal from friends and family;
Feelings of depression;
Feeling worthless, or useless;
Feelings of anxiety;
Mood swings;
Lack of control or feeling out of control;
Difficulty expressing emotions or needs to others;
Low self esteem;
Feeling disconnected from self and others.

If you can relate to any one or more ‘Symptom’ descriptions, AND you recognise several or more of the psychological signs, then chances are you are struggling with some form of disordered eating, and some professional support may help.

Eating disorders are complicated and are made more so because they can be kept secret for a long time.  The longer it goes on, the harder it is to change.  Eating disorders are also very dangerous and they can run from causes health problems to being life-threatening in the longer term if left untreated.

Our bodies are very adaptable, and they will do everything they can to keep working, but continued abuse over a long period will slowly break down your body, causing severe damage to your organs and bodily functions. Treatment of an eating disorder should therefore be a combination of psychological and emotional help, and help with the physical problems that have occurred as a result of the disorder.Anyone suffering from an eating disorder will have a significant impact on their family and friends, whether or not it is acknowledged or recognised.

Why Does Someone Develop an Eating Disorder?

Eating disordered behaviour often starts as a result of an upsetting or difficult experience, that the person finds hard to cope with.  Common triggering events are bullying, a death in the family, stress and pressure due to exams, criticism about weight or appearance, a separation or any other significant event that affects someone emotionally and is hard to deal with. 

The person may not ever have been good at expressing their emotions or admitting to other people that they are struggling with something.   People who worry about what other think of them instead of being able to stand up for themselves may be more likely to experience an eating disorder.  Teenagers are particularly vulnerable, because of the pressure at this time in life to conform, to be the same, to look like everyone else.  Added to this is the pressure on teenagers from parents to succeed, to do well in exams, to manage their behaviour and conform to parent’s beliefs and expectations. 

Eating disorders do not start out as a conscious choice and are not a willful form of ‘attention seeking’.  Rather, they come about slowly as a coping mechanism the person uses to help them feel more in control, or as a way of avoiding dealing with other, more difficult issues.

Eating disorders help sufferers feel “safe”.  The structure and set of behaviours involved give a sense of control and purpose, and a sense of achievement when they succeed in ‘not eating’, or losing another pound in weight, or vomit up every meal they’ve eaten in a day.  The behaviours serve an important purpose for the person, so it is understandable that they do not let go of them easily or without a fight.

Eating Freely Program for Emotional Eating & Binge-Eating

Being able to ask for support, tell people how you feel, and admit that you are struggling sometimes, are new and difficult behaviours, but they are part of the journey towards a life free from eating disorder.  Counselling can help in overcoming an eating disorder.  Having an independent, objective person to guide and support you through the process of recognising why the eating disorder came about and working on changing how you deal with emotional events, can be very beneficial.

At Sandyford Wellness Centre all of our Counsellors and Psychotherapists are fully qualified and experienced in their areas of expertise. 

For support with Binge Eating / Emotional Eating or Bulimia, please enquire about the 12 Week Eating Freely Program, a specialist program combining counselling and nutritional therapy to successfully support you in finding real freedom around food, forever.  The Eating Freely Program was developed by Emma Murphy MIACP who owns Sandyford Wellness Centre and has been a Disordered Eating Specialist for over 10 years. To find out more visit: Eating Freely 12 Week Program for Binge Eating

Already attended Therapy or Treatment, but feel you could use some Support?

We understand that this kind of difficulty can creep back into your life during periods of stress.  So if you have previously gone through a period of counselling or other treatment for Eating Distress, and find you could do with a little help to stay on or get back on track  our specialist counsellors will be happy to work with you on an open-ended basis.  This could be a block of sessions, or an arrangement to ‘check in’ every month or so – whatever you feel will work best for you. 

Contact Fionnuala Darcy on 086 6064111 to book an appointment.

Support for Anorexia, Excessive Food Restriction & Bulimia

Fionnuala Darcy MIAHIP

BA (Hons) Psych, Chartered MCIPD,QMIGC,GMPSI,
Prof. Cert CBT, Master Practitioner in Eating Disorders

I have been working as a Psychotherapist since 2007 and am fully accredited with IAHIP (Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy)

I work with adults on a one to one basis helping them deal with in a wide range of issues. My expertise is particularly in the areas of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating); obesity; anxiety, depression; low self-esteem; personal identity and personal growth and development.

Core to my approach is working collaboratively with clients in a gentle way and meeting them where they are at. I believe this helps to bring about change in their own personal lives allowing them to reach their full potential. Fundamental to achieving this is a safe environment where there is no fear of being judged or criticised.

Please call me directly on 086-6064111 to arrange an appointment.