The symptoms take priority over the cause … initially.
In Eating Disorder (ED) recovery, symptoms of the eating disorder are treated as first priority. 99.9% of the time, this is achieved through intensive administration of improved nutrition. Getting the dose correct is key, think of food as the medicine. Not enough wont have the desired impact or improvement and getting the dose just right, brings about significant improvement to keep moving through the stages of recovery.
Most often, restrictive eating disorders encompass symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, cold hands/feet, inability to regulate body temperature, heightened anxiety, social withdrawal, and loss of or irregular periods [to name a few]. When an ED encompasses binge eating behaviors, unstable blood sugars, dizziness, irregular bowel motions, and heightened anxiety is commonly reported.
Treating these symptoms first, lays the foundation for future cognitive work.
It lays the foundation for future behaviour change.
It can be difficult to not have all the answers as to what has caused or lead to the onset of the eating disorder illness. Spending a great deal of time and energy, hypothesising or searching for answers can distract from the immediate needs of the unwell person. Re-focusing this energy towards taking action and implementing strategies to bring about re-nourishment through food will show with overall improvements and make way for recovery. Essentially there is no one thing that would have caused the illness and looking for something to blame will not help in recovery.
Another example of this is when someone presents to the hospital after a diagnosis of cancer, does the doctor spend time getting to the bottom of what caused the cancer? or do they target the tumor, to lessen the impact of the cancer? They do the latter.
In ED recovery, food first is key. We know through research and experience, a treatment that focuses on collaboratively nourishing the body and mind first enables the individual to challenge the ED by building their strength and resilience to tolerate the distress, fight the thoughts and effectively implement the strategies discussed with their Psychologist and/or Dietitian.
Treating the symptoms is the first step to getting life back from the eating disorder.
At Myrtle Oak, we tailor our approaches to individuals and their families. To book an initial assessment or to simply enquire about our services, phone 02 4362 3443.