The Next Step: Finding Help For Your Eating Disorder

December 3, 2011 Angela E. Gambrel

The first step in recovering from any eating disorder is accepting that you do have an illness that deserves and needs treatment.

The next step is finding the appropriate people to guide you in recovering from your eating disorder. That can be very difficult. However, there are different types of help out there and I would encourage you to never give up trying to find what works for

Trust is Paramount

I first began struggling with anorexia nervosa in the fall of 2007. Of course, I did not think that there was anything wrong with me. I thought I was just thin and eating healthier, and that my family and friends were being melodramatic.

However, I half-heartedly agreed to see a dietitian in February 2008. She was a very nice person, and we would meet weekly and go over meal plans and the amount of calories she felt I needed to be eating.

I would inevitably toss her meal plans on a countertop after each session, and we stopped our sessions after about three months because I continued to lose weight. It wasn't that she didn't inspire trust, but instead I was simply not ready to let go and give my trust to her or anyone else.

In June 2008, I boarded a plane and flew to a renowned eating disorders program. I instinctively distrusted my assigned psychiatrist the minute I met her. I felt she was cold and did not care if I lived or died, that I was just another eating disorder patient and that she was tired of us all.

Trust your feelings. Do not continue treatment with someone whom you feel uncomfortable with or think that she does not have your best interests at heart. Therapy will be of little to no help if you do not trust the person you are working with. Therapists and patients do not connect for a number of reasons, and it is perfectly fine to tell a therapist that you feel that you would be more comfortable with someone else.

I have one friend who went to an eating disorders therapist who told her she was perfectly fine and that she had a nice, slender figure. Of course, she had this nice, slender figure through the daily hell of bulimia, binging and purging many times and in the process becoming sicker each day. Thankfully, this friend felt warning bells go off in her head and decided to find another therapist who would clearly listen to her.

My family doctor referred me to my current eating disorders psychiatrist in August 2008, and I feel very fortunate that she did. I trusted him the minute I met him and we have built a very strong therapeutic relationship that has been invaluable in my recovery process.

The Weight Issue

Please don't fall into the trap of believing you don' t need or deserve treatment because of weight. I have seen this happen with several friends who felt because they either weren't underweight or overweight that they were fine. For example, someone with bulimia can be a normal weight and still be quite ill from the effects of binging and purging.

Let me stress again — Emaciation is not the only indication of an eating disorder.

I actually was at my sickest in February 2010. I was not at a particularly low weight, but a combination of severe restriction and other behaviors landed me in the hospital with a feeding tube. I felt the same way; that since I was not at my lowest weight, I did not need nor deserve treatment. And yet I was quite ill.

The Treatment Team and Insurance Issues

I only see an eating disorders psychiatrist. This is mainly because my insurance does not cover other types of treatment options such as as meeting with a dietitian, and I have to pay out-of-pocket for any type of specialist.

However, other people with eating disorders see a psychiatrist, a therapist, and a dietitian. I would encourage you to check with your insurance company and find out if it does cover other specialists. In particular, a dietician can be invaluable because she can guide you to the right food choices and the correct number of calories you need for your recovery. Meal plans can be confusing and overwhelming, and trying to figure out how to eat right and stay in recovery can be very difficult. I am lucky in that I am able to work with my psychiatrist about this, but he is very rare and most psychiatrists do not deal directly with these types of things.

Many psychiatrists also do not engage in therapy and are strictly for medication only, and that is where a good therapist becomes invaluable. I talk about the importance of a good eating disorders therapist in this recording. I would stress that you might have to fight to get your insurance company to pay for a therapist, but most insurances do have this type of coverage.

How To Find Help

I found my eating disorders psychiatrist through my family doctor, and I would encourage you to start there. Of course, the level of help available will depend upon several factors — your insurance, where you live, even your age and/or gender. The first eating disorders psychiatrist that I was referred to would not see me because he limited his practice to those age 30 and under, and I was 42 at the time. Other clinicians restrict their practice to only female adolescents, or other groups.

The National Eating Disorders Association also can direct you toward the appropriate clinicians. Finally, check your local newspaper or website for support groups for those with eating disorders. The National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders and Overeaters Anonymous are two organizations that offer support groups throughout the country.

Staying With Recovery...Even When Help Seems Far Away

Finally, I would encourage you to stay with recovery even if you find it difficult to find help. I drive two hours one-way to see my eating disorders psychiatrist because I live in an area that offers very little for those for eating disorders.

You can find help. You can begin on the road to recovery. You will have to become your own strong advocate for recovery at times. It is worth it.

Find me on Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2011, December 3). The Next Step: Finding Help For Your Eating Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

Leave a reply