Recovery from eating disorders.
In this blog post, Dr Bedelia Flanagan ( registered Chinese medicine practitioner and eating disorders recovery coach ) discusses recovery from eating disorders and how Chinese Medicine can be an incredible support.
Dr Bedelia practices from Qi Medicine Acupuncture in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, and has a passion for helping individuals with eating disorders in Victoria.
As we know, eating is an important part of our human life. Eating brings people together, nourishes us and gives us joy.
However, we can also have an unhealthy relationship with eating and develop an eating disorder.
An eating disorder can range from mild disordered eating habits and discomfort in one’s body to severe mental illnesses with long-term health implications and sometimes fatal consequences.
There is no road map to determine whether someone develops an eating disorder.
Some possible triggers for eating disorders could be life transitions (menarche, pregnancy, menopause), life stressors, physical health conditions and other mental illnesses, as well as a culture around dieting.
It is important to recognise and be honest with ourselves when recognising the signs of an eating disorder.
What are some of the signs of an eating disorder?
- Restrictive dieting, skipping meals, obsessive rituals around eating, fasting, counting calories, avoiding food groups
- Binge eating, hoarding food, and eating in secrecy.
- Vomiting, use of laxatives
- Excessive exercise, distress if unable to exercise, repetitive exercises
- Social withdrawal, avoiding social events that involve eating
- Body checking, obsession with shape and weight
- Changes in clothing, wearing loose clothes to hide body shape
- Using steroids or other supplements to enhance athletic performance and alter physical appearance.
- Weight fluctuation
- Irregular or missing periods
- Feeling cold
- Inability to concentrate
- Diarrhoea, constipation
- Hair loss, body hair growth
- Skin flare-ups, dry skin
- Obsession with weight
- Low self-esteem
- Negative emotions
- Meal time anxiety, guilt around food.
- Mood changes, depression or anxiety, irritability
When should you seek help for an eating disorder?
There are many blocks and stigmas around eating disorders.
You do not have to wait till you are ‘sick enough’ or fit a diagnosis to get help. The earlier the eating disorder is addressed, the better the recovery and the reduction in long-term health implications.
What is the current treatment for recovery from eating disorders?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to eating disorder recovery.
The treatment varies depending on the individual’s needs. Common therapies include psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and group therapy.
In periods of medical or psychological crises hospitalisation may be required. Medication typically includes antidepressants, antipsychotics and hormonal therapy.
What role do acupuncture and Chinese medicine play in eating disorder recovery?
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, disordered eating and the associated behaviours disrupt and block the normal flow of blood, hormones and energy throughout the body.
In Chinese Medicine, we believe when the body’s natural flow is disrupted, the mind also becomes distressed.
Our acupuncture eating disorder treatments are designed to encourage the body to re-establish normal flow. This in turn calms the mind.
The wonderful benefits of greater harmony and less stress in the body include:
- Better digestion
- Reduced bloating
- Peace with hunger and satiety
- Regulation in mood
- Improved menstrual health
- Better sleep
- Reduction of anxiety around eating, food and body image
- Less stress and general improved wellbeing
Recovery from an eating disorder is not a linear process, and it is different for everyone.
At Qi Medicine Acupuncture, our practitioners work closely with you with tailored treatment plans and coaching to help you reach your own personal milestones in your recovery journey.
Help from us looks like a combination of:
- Dietary support
- Emotional support
- Physical support
- Mindfulness and well-being support
- Addressing underlying physical and emotional issues which may be exacerbating your condition
- A holistic approach
Our goal is to help you feel empowered in recovery and comfortable in your beautifully unique body.
What are your next steps?
To find out how we can help you at our clinic, get in touch with our friendly support team at (03) 8394 7665. You may also email us at [email protected].
From there we can arrange an initial consultation to discuss your needs, and give you a greater understanding of how we can support you in a more natural, holistic way.
Support and resources we also recommend for an eating disorder in Victoria
- Mind Body Well. Located in Melbourne CBD a compassionate collaborative team of psychologists and dieticians supports those affected with eating disorders. You can find out more about Mind Body Well here.
- Eating Disorders Victoria has some great resources to help carers of people with eating disorders. Check out their website https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au
- The National Eating Disorders Collaboration has a wealth of information about all different types of eating disorders. Find out more here https://nedc.com.au
- Butterfly Foundation. Has some excellent community groups and support for people impacted by eating disorders and body image issues. Find out more here https://butterfly.org.au
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We provide acupuncture and Chinese MedicineMelbourne to the North Western suburbs of Melbourne and are close to Highpoint. Qi Medicine acupuncture is minutes away from Ascot Vale, Essendon, Avondale Heights, Maribyrnong, and Brunswick West.
We also service many clients with acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Travancore, Flemington, Aberfeldie, and Maidstone. We are just 10 km from Melbourne city.