October 14, 2020

Why a Therapist May Be Helpful When You Want to Stop Yo-Yo Dieting

When trying to begin Intuitive Eating, there may be deeper emotional needs that need to be addressed. In this post, Charis Stiles, LCSW discusses different ways to know if therapy could support you in this journey.

By Charis Stiles, LCSW|Adulting

If you are trying to follow Intuitive Eating or you’re trying to adopt a Health at Every Size weight neutral belief system, you may already be working with a nutritionist or following an online learning course.

But for some folks on this journey, they have deeper emotional needs. Read on to see if therapy may be a good support for you during this journey.

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Here’s how to know if HAES-focused therapy is for you:

1) When the disordered eating habits are removed, you feel anxious in all areas of your life. Part of this is a normal reaction to big changes in our life and our thinking. But if you are feeling anxious about everything in life, and find yourself wanting to over-control or over-manage other areas of your life now, this may be a good time to seek support. It is common for folks with underlying anxiety to focus on restrictive eating patterns as a way to soothe that anxiety. When the eating patterns loosen up, there can be free-floating anxiety. This can feel overwhelming, and you may need assistance in discovering new coping strategies for that anxiety.

2) Changing the way we eat and talk about our bodies requires setting boundaries with others and ourselves. If you struggle with guilt and fear around setting boundaries, you may want additional support. Especially for folks who have experienced trauma, boundaries can be really scary to work on!

3) Your inner critic just won’t quit! This is a common issue for many folks, no matter their history with disordered eating or body shame. Building self-compassion is a core piece of recovery work, and it’s often challenging to do this on your own. Therapists can help model compassionate responses to that inner critic and can work with the difficult feelings that emerge (sadness, pain, anger, etc). Some therapists, like myself, take self-compassion further and work on re-parenting ourselves.

4) You feel so much anger and grief over the time, energy, and money you lost buying into diet culture. Trying to make yourself small and perfect takes a lot of resources, without it paying off in the end. Understandably, you may be feeling really angry, sad, grief-stricken, and despondent when you begin to face the reality of this. Some folks find it helpful to have a dedicated time and an open listening ear, so they can fully let these feelings out. Part of letting go of disordered eating and body shame includes letting go of restrictions on expressing emotions. It’s healthy and needed to express these feelings and sometimes it can feel safer to do that with a therapist than with a friend or loved one.

5) It’s really hard to feel a connection with your body, and you feel blocked or numb. When trying to follow Intuitive Eating, some folks find it near impossible to feel any sensation in their body. Especially for folks with trauma in their histories, it may be very scary to return to the body. Finding a trauma-informed or somatic therapist may be helpful to learn ways to gently and safely connect with the body.

6) The ways we eat and relate to our bodies is often a microcosm of how we are in other areas of our lives. When we start to change in our area, the other sectors of our world can get disrupted too. It may be time for even more changes in your life.

No matter what your reasons for seeking therapy may be, I strongly suggest screening for a therapist that does not promote intentional weight loss and is at least familiar with HAES/Intuitive Eating.

Please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call or a Personalized Matching Consultation with our Clinical Intake Coordinator so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation.

Medical Disclaimer

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