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Eating Disorders FAQs

The following is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with a mental health professional. Call 773-525-3322 for a free phone consultation.

How do I know if I have an eating disorder?
There are many websites that list the symptoms of Anorexia, Bulimia, etc, such as www.something-fishy.org. At Lakeview Center we are more concerned with how you feel than with any list of symptoms or diagnosis. If you find yourself preoccupied with food, weight, exercise, or body image, and if your thoughts and feelings about these are interfering with your ability to lead a full and joyful life, it is time to seek therapy. Eating disorders are not defined by how you look on the outside, but by how you are hurting on the inside. Parents, if you notice the your child or teen, in addition to changes in eating or weight, is becoming isolated, withdrawn, irritable, secretive, nervous or sad, it is better to err on the side of caution and schedule an evaluation for him or her.

Will therapy help me lose weight?
Therapy will help you stop yo-yo dieting once and for all, and reach a stable, healthy weight. If you have been eating compulsively or binging, it is likely that giving up these behaviors will result in weight loss. However, this goal is secondary to helping you learn to have a positive relationship to food and your body.

Will my therapist make me eat and gain weight?
At Lakeview Center we know that increasing food intake and weight gain may seem terrifying at first. We believe that controlling your food and weight serve an important function for our clients, and we will not force you give them up before you are ready. We understand that you need to trust your therapist before you are willing to give up the comfort and protection of your eating disorder. We also recognize that it is not possible or desirable to force any one to eat. We will help you find alternative coping strategies and new sources of self-esteem and fulfillment. As long as you are working and progressing in therapy, we will work with at your own pace.

Do I have to follow a diet or meal plan?
Every client is different. Some people find a meal plan prescribed by our nutritionist gives them a sense of safety and control. Others prefer to work on learning to eat mindfully and listen and trust the signals of their bodies. Your therapist will work with you to discover the right balance of guidance and freedom.

Can I exercise when I’m in therapy?
Many people with eating disorders exercise compulsively or as a form of purging. We will work on helping you learn make exercise an enjoyable, healthy activity. If you are scared to exercise, we will help you find a way to move your body that feels good. If you over exercise, we will help you gradually cut down and allow room in your life for other activities.

Will I get weighed in therapy?
If you are at a dangerously low weight, we will need to keep tabs on this to insure your medical stability. We will probably have you get weighed about once a month, usually by our medical advisor or nutritionist. It will be up to you whether you wish to know your weight. You may choose to be weighed “blind,” facing forward so you do not see the scale. If your weight is stable, you and your therapist will discuss whether it will helpful or harmful to your treatment to know your weight. It is often useful to throw away or put away your scale, and focus instead on how your body feels.

Which eating disorders services do I need?
This depends on many factors such as the severity of your eating disorder, whether you are also depressed or anxious, how the eating disorder is affecting your relationships, and how much support you have from friends and family. When you meet with your therapist for your initial appointment, you will discuss how frequently you will come to individual therapy and whether you will benefit from medication, nutrition therapy, groups, and expressive therapy.

Do I need a treatment program?
If you have never had therapy for an eating disorder and you are medically and emotionally stable, it often makes sense to begin in outpatient therapy and see if this level of care is sufficient. If you are not progressing in therapy, or need more support, Your Lakeview Center therapist can coordinate Intensive Outpatient Treatment with our clinical partner, Insight. If you are in medical danger or in danger of harming yourself call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.

How long will it take to recover from an eating disorder?
While it is possible you may experience relief from your eating disorder symptoms within several months, to address the issues underlying the eating disorder, and to establish the skills needed for long-term recovery usually requires a number of years. However, this also depends on factors such as how frequently you attend therapy, how motivated you are, and much outside support you have.

Will the therapist blame my family for the eating disorder?
While your therapist will certainly be interested in your experiences growing up, Lakeview Center’s therapists believe in a biopsychosocial model of eating disorders. This means that your brain chemistry, your genetic temperament, your family experiences, your experiences with your peers, and messages you receive from our society all interact to make you vulnerable to eating disorders. Stressful events or life transitions then often precipitate the beginning of disordered eating.

Will my therapist use a 12-step approach?
Our therapists use an integrative approach that may include utilize the 12-steps or 12-step meetings, if you find these useful. We do not believe Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is appropriate for people with eating disorders, as their emphasis on abstaining from white sugar and white flour can often lead to binging and black and white thinking. However, Eating Disorders Anonymous, www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org, is a 12-step group that may be helpful in your recovery.

Will my help me incorporate my spiritual beliefs into my recovery?
At Lakeview Center we believe spirituality can be a powerful source of strength and healing. We are not affiliated with any one religion but we have experience working with Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, and Hindu clients. We are also open to learning about other spiritual beliefs and support our clients’ involvement in religious and spiritual communities.




Eating Disorders Treatment Options

Eating Disorders FAQs

Nutrition Therapy

Medication For Eating Disorders

Medical Monitoring for Eating Disorder

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Men and Eating Disorders

Couples and Eating Disorders

For Friends and Family Members