Julia Bellerby
Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor supervision
Grad. Dip Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching
Mobile: 07939 255425  |  Email: Click here

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Call me on 07939 255425 or click here to contact me by email.

Weight Problems and compulsive eating

I offer counselling and psychotherapy for weight problems, compulsive eating and binge-eating in York or by phone/skype/online worldwide.

Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by having recurring episodes of eating much larger quantities of food than most people would eat in a similar amount of time and under similar circumstances. Other features include eating much more quickly than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating unlikely combinations of food, eating alone and feeling ashamed, guilty and depressed.

You do not have to have all the features of Binge Eating Disorder to worry about your weight, believe your thoughts dominated by food and have times when you think you eat too much. Whether you have an eating problem or a diagnosable eating disorder, talking to a counsellor can help you to eat less chaotically and have a more relaxed relationship with food.

How can a counsellor help if I'm overweight?

If you have yo-yo dieted for years, or even decades, I can help you put a stop to it once and for all. Together we can examine the emotional side of compulsive eating and weight-gain, as well as looking at what and how you eat. 

First let's take a look at what bingeing actually is. Some people graze or pick at food through the day: it may not feel like a large quantity of food is being eaten because it's spread out over a long period of time. It can seem like you're trying to find an elusive taste or satisfaction which never arrives, driving you to eat more and more different foods. You can be dissociated from what you're eating - barely aware of what's going in your mouth.

A binge is more often characterised as a large, sometimes a very large amount of food eaten quickly and in an out-of-control way. Often cravings will have been felt in the run up to a binge: these can be very powerful - a feeling of being pulled, inevitably, towards the food. Some binges are planned, with a trip round a supermarket to stock up on foods high in fat, carbohydrate and calories. Others may be spontaneous, such as finishing up the leftovers.

The first moments of a binge can be wonderful as the cravings are given in to and the taste and textures of the food are enjoyed. There's often a sense of numbness and dissociation - of being in a trance-like state. For the moment, life's problems are forgotten and the food becomes an overwhelming focus. But usually a sense of panic and disgust then set in as more and more food is eaten. A feeling of "it's all gone wrong so I might as well really ruin everything" drives a desperate need to stuff food down. It can feel like there's a great big emotional void inside you that has to be filled with food, yet it never can be. Some people binge until they can barely move. Others may not eat a vast number of calories, but feel guilty that they ate more than they had planned to.

Afterwards there will probably be feelings of shame, disgust and guilt as well as fear of gaining more weight. Physically there may be stomach pains, a headache and dehydration. Binge-eaters often find themselves caught in the following vicious circle:
  • A trigger: often feeling anxious, tired, angry or worrying about weight gain
  • Cravings for high calorie, high fat foods foods such as ice cream, cake, crisps, and biscuits
  • You start bingeing - you are out of control but get some relief from the feelings that triggered the binge in the first place
  • The binge ends, you feel guilty and ashamed
  • The return of same feelings of low self worth and anxiety that brought about the binge in the first place.
The more weight you gain, the worse you feel about yourself, the harder it is to exercise. The only thing you can think of to comfort yourself is....more food. It can feel that food is pulling you in, calling you, and that there is no escape from it. Perhaps you feel you are addicted to all this and that unlike alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, you have to find a way of living with food. You obviously can't just cut it right out.

But there are ways to escape from this vicious circle. If you talk to a counsellor, you are no longer on your own. You will not be judged or told off by a counsellor who will know that this is not about greed, but about deeper-seated emotional needs. You will be encouraged to look at your whole life, not just your relationship with food. It may seem odd, but it's important to work out what you're getting from binge-eating: this may be reduction of anxiety, smoothing the edges off angry or frustrated feelings or taking the sting out of feeling bad about yourself. The trouble is that bingeing doesn't give you any permanent relief from these difficult feelings - in fact it puts off the need to deal with them. As you find other ways to deal with life's difficulties, you have less need to binge.

However, if you have a serious weight problem it can be difficult to decide which problem to tackle first: the weight (by dieting) or the binge eating (by counselling). Dieting is a fraught area and perhaps you've tried and given up on more diets than you care to remember. Diets tend to perpetuate binge-eating and certainly crash dieting should be avoided at all costs. So it usually makes sense to address the binge-eating problem first and then tackle your weight. Generally speaking you WILL loose weight anyway if you stop binge-eating. Talking to a counsellor helps you find alternatives to bingeing. If you stop bingeing you can reasonably expect to lose weight anyway. Then if you draw up a healthy eating and moderate exercise plan, a counsellor can help with motivation towards your goals.
Julia Bellerby - Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor Supervision in York, and worldwide by phone, skype or online

Julia Bellerby
Grad. Dip. Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching, BACP Accredited
Contact me on 07939 255425 or click here to contact me by email.