What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a mental illness that causes serious disturbances to an individual’s daily diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. Extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight/shape and food issues are some hallmarks of an eating disorder. An individual who develops an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiraled out of control. Common eating disorders include binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa. Eating disorders are serious mental and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for women and men.

What is disordered eating?

Disordered eating denotes a variety of abnormal eating behaviors such as, regular episodes of binge eating, intentionally skipping meals, fasting, restricting foods and food groups, dieting, chronic use of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, steroids, creatine, and other supplements. The main differentiation between disordered eating and an eating disorder is the level of severity and frequency of behaviors.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious illness in which individuals starve themselves, leading to grave medical consequences over time. Individuals who are struggling with AN believe that they are fat and must lose weight, when in reality they may be seriously underweight. Some signs and symptoms of AN are:

  • An obsessive preoccupation with food, calories, and weight
  • A reduction in the quantity and variety of foods eaten
  • Unhappiness with body shape and weight
  • Fearfulness of gaining weight
  • Avoidance of dining with others
  • Skipping meals and or fasting
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Excessive exercise
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Use and abuse of laxatives, diuretics, diet pills, and or supplements
  • Chewing and spitting out food
  • Self-induced vomiting

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating (compulsive consumption of large quantities of food) often alone or in secrecy, followed by compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, periodic starvation, and excessive/over-exercising, as a means of avoiding weight gain. Some signs and symptoms of BN are:

  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Intermittent starvation
  • Unhappiness with body shape and weight
  • Feelings of shame and secrecy regarding bulimic behaviors
  • Compulsive and excessive exercise
  • Use and abuse of laxatives, diuretics, diet pills, and or supplements

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder (BED) is characterized by consistent and uncontrollable episodes of binge eating (rapid and compulsive consumption of large quantities of food) often alone or secretively with no use of compensatory behaviors. Some signs and symptoms of BED are:

  • Regular and uncontrollable episodes of binge eating
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, and self-loathing
  • Eating when not hungry and or to the point of physical discomfort

What is Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified?

Eating Disorder NOS/Atypical eating disorders are comprised of a number of conditions that may be related with any of the following:

  • Unexplained weight loss or vomiting
  • Unexplained food intolerances or allergies
  • Unexplained discomfort that affects eating
  • Eating rituals and extremely picky eating
  • Rumination (regurgitation or re-chewing of food)
  • Fear of choking or swallowing or other physical complaints that prevent eating

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating can be understood as the use of food to manage or cope with uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, or situations. If you often use food to escape from reality, entertain, distract, or comfort yourself, you may be an emotional eater and could benefit by learning to use other coping mechanisms.

What is compulsive overeating?

Compulsive overeating can be understood as an overwhelming urge to eat large quantities of food in excess that may cause physical pain or discomfort.

What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy?

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, and the benefits have been statistically proven to continue after treatment has ended. The hallmarks of psychodynamic psychotherapy are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and client as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the client’s life. The goal of treatment is to alleviate current symptoms and help individuals lead healthier lives overall. After a course of psychodynamic psychotherapy has ended, the individual should continue to handle difficulties in a more adaptive manner; experience improved relationships and productivity at work; and continue to develop new insights into his or her thoughts, feelings and behavior.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy treatment that focuses on examining the relationship between an individual's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Treatment entails a hands-on, practical approach to problem solving. The goal of treatment is to modify patterns of thinking and behaviors that are behind the individual’s difficulties, and to change the way they feel. CBT can be used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression, but typically focuses on helping clients deal with a very specific problem. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that we hold (our cognitive processes) and how this relates to the way we behave, as a way of dealing with emotional problems. During the course of treatment, people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan to help better treat borderline personality disorder. Since its development, it has also been adapted and further developed as a useful treatment of other kinds of mental health disorders, including eating disorders. DBT emphasizes balancing behavioral change, problem-solving, and emotional regulation with validation, mindfulness, and self-acceptance. An important aspect of DBT is the mindfulness component, largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice and principles. DBT is designed to help individuals manage intense emotions. Emotional dysregulation can lead to impulsive, self-destructive behaviors, including bingeing, purging, laxative abuse, substance abuse, or other self-harming behaviors. In DBT clients learn techniques to help them understand their emotions without judgment and learn skills to manage emotions and change behaviors in ways that will make their lives better.

What is yoga therapy?

Yoga therapy is a modern creation integrating traditional yogic concepts and techniques with Western medical and psychological knowledge. Yoga therapy is a holistic treatment for various kinds of psychological or somatic dysfunctions ranging from back problems to emotional distress. Thus, yoga therapy is the adaptation and application of Yoga techniques and practices to help individuals facing health challenges, manage their condition reduce symptoms, restore balance, increase vitality, and improve attitude.

What kind of yoga therapy does Aurora ascribe to?

At Aurora Behavioral Health, we use a combination of mind-body based yoga therapy approaches. Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) is at the crux of our approach. PRYT is highly experiential in nature and is best described as receiving a psychotherapy session with your ENTIRE body. Through the process of awareness and discernment, clients have the opportunity to become present to the realities of their body, minds and souls and then release any old or undigested experiences, traumas, personal beliefs and out of date habits and patterns. Once processed, the client can move more fully into recovery with new perspective and personal efficacy. In addition to PRYT, Aurora has adopted Safe Space Yoga℠ and Recovery Stories℠, both developed by co-founder Maria Sorbara Mora. These yoga styles offer yoga to all bodies in a safe therapeutic environment, facilitating embodiment of the recovery process. Individual, class and group experiences are done with eyes closed to foster an inner focus as well as to work with body image concerns of our clients.

Why is Yoga Therapy so effective in treating eating disorders?

Research shows that Yoga therapy is among the most effective complementary therapies for several common ailments and issues. Several studies have been done acknowledging the benefits of yoga for those struggling with eating disorders and its related issues. Yoga, when applied therapeutically to individuals with eating disorders has been proven to increase body responsiveness, reduce disordered eating thoughts and tendencies and decrease cortisol and osteoporosis. These findings point to the importance of yoga therapy as a treatment modality and its promise to further healing possibilities for individuals struggling with eating disorders.

What is Integrated Eating™?

Integrated Eating™ is a concept developed for Eating Disorder Treatment that integrates Body, Mind and Soul into recovery and engages all aspects simultaneously to form an enlightened or mastered form of eating. To recover and heal from disordered eating an individual must find a way to a healthy relationship to food and their bodies. This step-by-step process known as Integrated Eating™ incorporates Structured, Mindful, Instinctual and Mastered Eating. As one evolves through each phase they will find mastery and integration. In the last phase, Mastered Eating, the body has practiced structured eating for so long that there is no longer a need to rely on the meal plan. Individuals don't have to think about when and how much to eat as they did in the beginning of their recovery. They are mindful and instinctive, using their body wisdom for cues and trusting in the process but not giving up the structure. There is form, flexibility and flow to eating that is organic and mastered. This is Integrated Eating™.