MMN 023: Eating Disorders – with Courtney Grimes

On this episode of the Make a Mental Note podcast, Courtney Grimes, a psychotherapist in private practice and the clinical director of the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee, discusses factors that contribute to eating disorders and methods to help people recover from them. Give it a listen and find out why this episode is worthy of a mental note!

Courtney Grimes interview (click on Courtney’s name to listen to interview)

Mental Notes:

* Most common types of eating disorders – anorexia nervosa and bulimia

* Many people with eating disorders are “image driven” – feeling the need to look a certain way or be a certain way – is oftentimes media-driven/how models and actors appear on television, in magazines, music videos and on the Internet.

* Historically, concerns about body appearance were considered to be female issues, but in recent years males have become increasingly concerned about their appearances. There is a “male ideal image” and “female ideal image” that are heavily marketed by the media.

* Given that eating disorders have traditionally been thought of as a female disorder it may make it difficult for males to seek out help for it due to embarrassment or shame. They might not recognize they have an eating disorder because eating disorders have been linked to females for so many years.

* Most education advocacy of the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee is marketed to men and females at various age levels.

* The most common theme discussed among clients who experience eating disorders is safety. A lack of security or safety motivates clients to control things in their lives. Control decreases anxiety that is brought about by insecurity. Many things that happen in life are not in people’s control. So the more out-of-control that people feel the less safe they feel. If people feel like they can control at least one thing (in this case eating, which is core to people’s survival and security needs) then it keeps anxiety at a manageable level when other things in life feel like it’s out-of-control.

* An insecure attachment with a parent can breed anxiety and not feeling safe.

* Eating disorders can also occur among middle age people during major life transitions.

* Controlling food intake & other behaviors (e.g., excessive exercise) helps decrease anxiety that’s associated with feelings of insecurity or not feeling safe.

* There are similarities between eating disorders and addictions in that there is a compulsion to exhibit a behavior. Eating disorders are process addictions in which people have developed an addictive relationship with their substance of choice, which is food.

* The challenge for a client is to learn how to continue how to engage with food and to drain the compulsion of its power so this can occur.

* Discontinuing the addictive behavior feels like breaking up with a girlfriend or a boyfriend…it’s analogous to grieving the loss of a close friend.

* Sometimes intense feelings arise in counseling when clients discontinue the dysfunctional eating patterns, which makes them want to go back and continue the those patterns again so they don’t have to deal with the feelings. Learning how to tolerate those feelings is key.

* Approaches to helping clients with eating disorders: 1) mindfulness, 2) distress tolerance, and 3) self-compassion.

* Families play a role in helping eating disorders clients. Eating disorders affect families. If the family environment doesn’t change, then the risk for eating disorder relapse is high.

* Challenges – sometimes eating disorder clients are not ready to let go of their disorder (it’s like their best friend). In addition, medical issues can occur (i.e., physical damage to body).

* The commitment and motivation to change is important if clients are to benefit from counseling. Some eating disorders clients are in the pre-contemplative stage of change and so therapists are encouraged to talk to them to see if they can move them to another stage of change in which commitment and motivation is inevitable.

* Tips – try to stay as mindful and present as possible. Self-compassion is important – the kinder people are to themselves the kinder they are to others.

Mental Notes Takeaway:

* If people feel like they can control at least one thing (in this case eating, which is core to people’s survival and security needs) then it keeps anxiety at a manageable level when other things in life feel like they’re out-of-control. There are similarities between eating disorders and addictions in that there is a compulsion to exhibit a behavior. The challenge for a client is to learn how to continue how to engage with food and to drain the compulsion of its power so this can occur.

Check It Out:

* Courtney Grimes – symmetry-counseling.com/

* Courtney’s phone number – 615-306-8044

* Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee – edct.net/



209 Castlewood Drive Suite D
Murfreesboro, TN. 37129

chris@chrisquarto.com
(615) 403-5227

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