Nourishing Wisdom for Eating Disorder Recovery
Kate B. Daigle, MA, NCC, LPC

Eating Disorder Counseling in Diverse Populations

Treatment for Eating Disorders in Any Population

Eating disorders know no boundaries.  Bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, compulsive exercise, and other types of disordered eating behaviors can affect both women and men as well as members of all ethnic groups, sexual identities, age groups, socioeconomic classes and backgrounds.  There is a strong need for more eating disorder awareness, research, and intervention in all populations so as to reduce stigma, isolation, and shame.

Are you looking for an empathetic, non-judgmental, and experienced therapist to support you on your journey to recovery from eating disorders? My specialized approach addresses any unique needs you may have and together we can explore integrating all parts of yourself in a way that eliminates self-destructive behaviors and promotes healthy well-being.

I am here to guide you to a life free from eating disorders and provide you with the confidential support you need to find the inner peace you deserve!

Are you looking for support in recovery from an eating disorder and identify with any of these groups?

 Men with Eating Disorders

Sometimes called “the silent victims”, more men than ever before are struggling with eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating, as well as compulsive over-exercising and other forms of disordered behaviors.  Are you a male and think you have a form of eating disorder but don’t fit into the “stereotype”?  The National Eating Disorders Association  reports that more than one million men in the United States currently report having an eating disorder (and this is only the reported cases), and yet only 10% of those men are seeking treatment.  When the DSM (Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders) is updated next year, Binge Eating Disorder will be included as a diagnostic eating disorder, raising the number of people in the US with an ED to more than 30 million — many of them men.

Men are also affected by pressures in society, to be like the “Ken doll” or to fit into a masculine body type or a body type that fits into a specific mold for their athletic interests (gymnastics, wrestling, and even soccer and related sports can require certain body physiques and exercise regimens).  While men experience the distress and pain of an eating disorder struggle, there can be a stigma attached to seeking help.  Men in the gay community are experiencing eating disorders and body image distress at an alarmingly high rate (see more below).

If you are a male and are looking for support, I am here for you; you are not alone!  Together we can overcome the shame or guilt of an eating disorder and I can help you forge a life free of isolation, self-harm, and destructive behaviors!

Multicultural Populations and Eating Disorders

Members of multicultural populations such as African American, Latino/a, Native American, Asian, Jewish (I wrote a post about this a while back) and other bi-racial groups who also do not fit into the “stereotype” of an eating disorder are experiencing these disorders at increasingly alarming rates as well.  We all now know that there is no “stereotype” of an eating disorder — these illnesses do not discriminate.  But there has not been much attention focused on populations who have historically been in the minority groups with eating disorders until recently, and this is beginning to change.

recent interview with Becky Thompson, a professor of African-American studies and sociology and author of A Hunger So Wide and So Deep: A Multiracial View of Women’s Eating Problems pointed to a possible cause of eating disorders in multicultural female populations: “They’ve grown up with a variety of stresses–racism, homophobia, {poverty}, sexism and abuse–which Thompson pinpoints as the true catalysts of many body problems.  So why the shroud of silence? Shame makes it especially difficult for women who don’t fit the “profile” to speak up and seek help. For many ethnic women, healing from body problems goes hand-in-hand with finding a solid racial, sexual, or personal identity,” states Dr. Thompson.

Are you a woman or man of a multicultural population who relates with some of this insight and do you struggle with an eating, food, or body image issue?  I am here to provide confidential, non-judgmental, empathetic support for you as you take steps on your journey to wholeness in identity, self-esteem, and healing.

Pregnancy, Pre-and Post-Natal Populations and Eating Disorders

Becoming pregnant invites a major shift to your body.  If you have struggled with body image before getting pregnant, it is possible that this change in your body can bring up some old struggles with food, body acceptance, and self esteem.  Even for women who have not had this issue before, pregnancy can trigger body image issues as you “let go of control” of your body in a way you have never experienced before.  Eating disorders can affect pregnancy in many ways; some women who have had an eating disorder in their past may struggle with conceiving due to the stress of the eating disorder on their body’s health, fertility and wellness (this is certainly not always going to be the case; it is possible to have recovered from an eating disorder and have a completely normal and healthy pregnancy).  Some women may struggle to get pregnant for reasons un-related to an eating disorder and may turn to food as a way to cope with these feelings of ‘out-of-control’ and loss.

If you have an eating disorder or if you have recovered from an eating disorder, pregnancy can be a significant trigger for some of the issues you experience.  While pregnant and after giving birth, women’s bodies are much different and many women struggle with pressure to lose their baby weight in a rapid amount of time (while also juggling the many stressors related to having a new baby).  This, unfortunately, can affect the mother-child bond and the marital relationship, take away some of the joy of parenthood, and may contribute to post-partum depression.

A subtype of an eating disorder, called “pregorexia”, involves women restricting their food intake while pregnant to maintain thinness, and is highly dangerous for the mother as well as her child.

Are you pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or have recently had a baby and are struggling with disordered eating, body image or food issues, or would like to PREVENT these issues?  You can have an emotionally and physically healthy pregnancy without food issues interfering!  

I have worked with many women and couples in this area and would like to provide you with the support you desire to have an emotionally, physically, relationally, nutritiously, and spiritually healthy pregnancy and relationship with your body!

Eating Disorders at Mid-Life and Beyond (Including Relapse)

Millions of women and men find themselves struggling with body image and/or eating issues at mid-life and again do not fit into the “stereotype” of a “typical” eating disorder.  As life cycle changes occur — children leaving the home, getting divorced, retiring from your career, losing a parent, changing jobs or getting remarried, heath issues — these can bring up unresolved patterns or issues from the past.  Sometimes relapse of an eating disorder occurs during mid-life, or sometimes an eating disorder develops for the first time at this stage of life.  If this has happened for you, you are not alone.  The Eating Disorder Foundation of Denver has a free weekly support group on Tuesday evenings that has provided a safe home for many women in this population who bond together to offer support.

Despite the growing attention, experts say the problem is likely underreported, partly because adult women disguise behaviors such as purging, and partly because eating disorders typically aren’t on the radar screen of doctors who care for this age group.

“Eating disorders are still in the closet to a large extent, especially for adult women,” says Margo Maine, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Hartford, Connecticut, who specializes in treating the disorders. “Adult women have such shame about admitting it.”

If you can relate to these feelings and are experiencing guilt, shame, or denial about having an eating disorder (or some form of disordered eating), please reach out for support.  You are not alone!  I thrive working with woman and men in mid-life and would welcome the opportunity to support you in finding healthy coping mechanisms and navigating some of the changes that can occur in mid-life.

Gay and Lesbian Populations and Eating Disorders

Many women and men in the gay population are faced with some of the same eating disorder risk factors as straight men and women (black and white thinking, perfectionism, suppression or disregulation of emotions), as well as additional tasks of gender identity, coming out, and stressors from society related to their sexual orientation.  “In an environment that’s not always supportive and accepting, people in sexual minority groups often face additional pressures and challenges that lead to increased self-doubt, shame, and depression. LGBT adolescents are especially at-risk, as they often struggle with accepting their identity, coming out, and fitting in with peers who can be downright cruel,” writes Valerie Kusler of Adios Barbie.  For some, whether they come out in their youth or later in life, the coming out process can be so stressful that it could actually create or intensify eating disordered symptoms as a way of managing uncomfortable feelings or experiences.

There is an assumption that gay men experience eating disorders more preventively than straight men.  For gay men, sociocultural suggestions state that the values and norms in the gay community place a heightened focus on physical appearance, and that by aiming to attract other men, they are subject to similar pressures and demands as heterosexual women (bodies as sexual objects, and thus, increased body dissatisfaction) and this does in fact lead to a higher number of eating disorders in the male gay population.  One recent study found that 6% of gay or bisexual males met the criteria for an eating disorder, compared to 1% of heterosexual males (Feldman & Meyer, 2007).  For women, the current studies suggest that the prevalence in straight women is almost the same as the prevalence of eating disorders in gay women; more research in this area is needed.

Are you gay or lesbian and struggling with disordered eating, body image, or self-esteem?  I can support you in whatever issues come up for you around this area: identity development, relationships with family members or partners, coming out processes, and acceptance of self, among others.  I am available to provide accepting, supportive, affirming counseling in a non-judgmental atmosphere to help free you from destructive eating patterns and behaviors and to help you lead the life you want to live!

Athletes with Eating Disorders

Are you a competitive athlete and struggle with disordered eating patterns or rigid exercise patterns that control your life?  Do you feel that you are not able to enjoy your sport, your body, your life, or yourself because you are controlled by “rules” and “fears” about food and exercise?  I am experienced in helping athletes of all levels and types to heal from extreme habits and find a balanced relationship with food and exercise so that you can excel at your sport and love your body, food, and yourself at the same time!

Kate DaigleContact me to learn more about my unique treatment approach to helping athletes recover from eating disorders and compulsive exercise!