CBT for eating disorders (CBT-E)

What is an eating disorder?

If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder you will likely have a problematic relationship with how you feel about your body and eating. These difficulties are often linked to underlying struggles with managing emotions and low self esteem.

Common signs of an eating disorder: 

Feeling guilty about eating and trying to limit your what you eat. Compensating for eating with exercise or other weight control methods. Not being able to stop thinking about your weight, shape or eating. Losing control of your eating and eating large amounts of food. 

Types of eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa – seeing your body differently to how others perceive it, an extreme fear of putting on weight, food restriction resulting in a low body weight
  • Atypical Anorexia Nervosa – same characteristics of Anorexia Nervosa however a your body weight remains in what is regarded as the normal range 
  • Bulimia Nervosa – concern about your weight or shape. Regular episodes of uncontrolled or “binge-eating” followed by a form of compensation
  • Binge-Eating Disorder – regular episodes of uncontrolled or “binge-eating”
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CBT for eating disorders

One of the recommended treatments for eating disorders in adults is a specialist form of CBT called CBT-E. CBT-E is tailored to suit your specific eating problems. Together we will develop personalised recovery goals and therapy plan. 

CBT-E has four stages;

  • During stage one the focus is on gaining an understanding of your eating problem and helping you to modify and stabilise your pattern of eating, this involves keeping a daily diary of your food intake, eating disorder behaviours, thoughts and feelings. Alongside this there is an emphasis on looking at information to debunk any “myths” about eating.
  • In the brief second stage, progress is reviewed and plans are made for stage three.
  • Stage three is the main body of treatment and focuses on the processes that are maintaining your eating problem. Usually this involves addressing dietary restraint, enhancing ability to deal with day-to-day events and moods and addressing concerns about shape and eating.
  • In stage four focus shifts to dealing with setbacks and maintaining changes for the future.

Some times check-ups with a GP or other healthcare practitioner might be suggested in combination with CBT to ensure that you are physically safe. 

Useful links for eating disorders