independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

How I overcame my eating demons

JACQUELINE CAMPION

HEALTH AND LIVING 

PIC MARTIN MAHER
JACQUELINE CAMPION HEALTH AND LIVING PIC MARTIN MAHER

If you've been feeling bad that your New Year diet has long since fallen by the wayside, spare a thought for sufferers of Binge Eating Disorder (BED). The condition is characterised by a seemingly never-ending cycle of uncontrollable overeating and the guilt it leaves in its wake.

International studies suggest 4pc of the population suffer from the condition, which is recognised as a real and treatable medical illness.

According to experts, those with BED, as with bulimia and anorexia, use food to cope with stress and other negative emotions, even though they feel even worse afterwards.

Teresa Moorhead, clinical director for Lois Bridges, a treatment centre for eating disorders in Sutton on Dublin's northside, explains that the psychological issues behind binge eating are the same as for other eating disorders.

"It's a way of zoning out from uncomfortable feelings and anxieties.

"Restricting food has the very same effect as bingeing on food. A bottle of whiskey will do the same, or drugs. It takes them away from painful memories and feelings," she said.

Psychotherapy treatment, when it starts to work, can bring huge relief.

"To be able to cut themselves slack or forgive themselves over whatever issue is bothering them is the key. If you can do that, you are not going to gorge yourself with food because that's a real attack on oneself, " she said.

Marie Campion, therapist and director of The Marino Therapy Centre, who hosted a two-hour helpline on Christmas Day to help people get through a difficult time, takes issue with the term "Binge Eating Disorder".

"If people describe it as a distress, rather than a disorder, then they can see that it is the distress that is eating them. We always had these problems but we have never had them to such an extent," she said.

At the Marino centre, where there are no weighing scales and nobody gets diagnosed or labelled, all the practitioners are fully recovered from an eating disorder.

"I am looking in their mind. Eating distress is a reaction to the environment. When people are emotionally overeating, they are numbing their feelings.

"People come to us to learn about their thinking and then they can let go of the destructive behaviour. Everyone can recover," Ms Campion said.

Right, Jacqueline Campion tells her story of coming to terms with the problem.

Irish Independent

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