“Addressing the Whole Person: The Role of Holistic Alternatives in Eating Disorder Treatment”​

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Numbing me with medication would not heal the root cause of my disorder!

Taylor Angelise

In a recent interview with Taylor on my Podcast I learned about the devastating effects that eating disordered can have on a persons body, mind and soul. Taylor’s story is not only fascinating but also painted the clear struggle between food, health and her own wellbeing. Her journey takes use through the medical struggles she encountered, her loss of appetite, weight and almost death. 

Below, I’ve written just a short article outlining this subject, I’ve also included the Podcast with Taylor on my last show. If you struggle with any of these disorders I highly recommend you listen to Taylor’s and my conversation.

Eating disorders are a complex and serious mental health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. They can have a profound impact on physical and emotional health, as well as social and economic wellbeing. Traditional treatments for eating disorders, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication, can be effective, but many individuals may also find value in exploring holistic alternatives. In this article, we will explore the issues surrounding eating disorders and how holistic alternatives could be beneficial.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food and body image. They can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, as well as other specified feeding or eating disorders. Eating disorders are more prevalent in women, although they can also affect men and non-binary individuals. The causes of eating disorders are multifactorial and include genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Traditional treatments for eating disorders often focus on cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. Medication may also be used to treat underlying mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. While these treatments can be effective, they may not be suitable or sufficient for everyone. Holistic alternatives can provide a complementary approach to eating disorder treatment, focusing on the whole person rather than just the symptoms.

One holistic approach to treating eating disorders is through mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga. Mindfulness can help individuals develop a greater awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, as well as their relationship with food and their body. Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to reduce binge eating and improve body image in individuals with eating disorders.

Another holistic approach is through nutrition therapy, which focuses on developing a healthy relationship with food and addressing nutrient deficiencies. Nutrition therapy can involve working with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that meets the individual’s nutritional needs while also addressing any underlying health issues. This can be particularly helpful for individuals with restrictive eating patterns or nutrient deficiencies.

Holistic approaches can also include therapies such as art therapy and animal-assisted therapy, which can help individuals express and process their emotions in a non-verbal way. These therapies can be particularly helpful for individuals who may have difficulty expressing their emotions or experiences verbally.

In addition to these specific holistic approaches, other lifestyle changes may also be beneficial in treating eating disorders. These can include exercise, sleep hygiene, and stress management techniques. By addressing the whole person rather than just the symptoms of the eating disorder, holistic approaches can provide a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to recovery.

In conclusion, eating disorders are a serious mental health issue that can have significant impacts on physical and emotional wellbeing. While traditional treatments can be effective, holistic alternatives can provide a complementary approach that addresses the whole person. Mindfulness practices, nutrition therapy, and other holistic approaches can help individuals develop a healthy relationship with food and their body, leading to a more sustainable recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional.

Bob Priest, author


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