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Eating behaviour disorders

Eating behaviour disorders work in closed and perpetual cycles and should be approached in a proper and effective manner.

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When psychological factors, biological determinants and sociocultural factors meet, significant changes to the eating behaviour may arise, which comprehend more or less extreme eating control behaviours, compulsive eating episodes and compensatory behaviours to control weight:  Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating.

Eating behaviour disorders work in closed and perpetual cycles.

The impact of emotions on our eating behaviour

Food is comforting and such an effect is present in practically all phases of life and in any culture. Hunger comes when a certain situation presents itself and it is the emotions that command the eating behaviour, not the nutritional needs.

This type of eating patterns fit inside the concept of emotional hunger, also designated by hunger without hunger, a type of hunger that is not connected to sustaining life and that it does not arise from physiological signs (real hunger). On the contrary, it ignores them and is related to psychological factors, which may constitute a strategy to deal with tiredness and stress, a way to attack the body itself, or as a mechanism to compensate negative emotions.  

The main problem comes from repetitive eating episodes, when the feeling of pleasure and well-being is linked to the first food intake, which quickly turns into guilt, loss of control and regret. This pattern tends to repeat itself, reaching a future situation of sadness and anxiety, thus beginning a vicious cycle of gluttony.

On the other hand, we can find an emotional eating pattern based on restriction. In these cases, emotions lead to a decrease of food consumption in an attempt to seek control or power, where the physical hunger is put aside. At an initial stage, feelings of well-being associated to the absolute control of the food intake can also arise but, on a medium-short term, severe physical and psychological consequences will arise based on a total disconnection with the body, considering that the body’s basic needs are not being fulfilled.

If you would like to learn more information about Eating Behaviour Disorders treatment in Portugal, contact us through email, by calling +351 220 973 751, +351 211 379 718, +351 911 046 197, or by filling out our form. You can also contact us through our free call service to your right.

Intervention Plan and Rationale

This intervention lies on the adaptation of a DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) approach protocol created for eating behaviour problems, namely bulimia and binge eating

What are the objectives?

The first main objective is to make participants stop their compulsive eating behaviours (and vomit/compensation) as well as any other behaviour associated to eating disorders  (mindless eating - unconscious eating, emotional hunger, impulsiveness, cravings). Programme objectives are reached through teaching adaptive strategies of emotional regulation - Mindfulness strategies and skills to control emotions and tolerate anxiety and discomfort.

These strategies aim to replace inadequate eating behaviours. In order to improve a global well-being, relation to food is not the only one to be intervened. Relation with one’s body and self-esteem are also to be intervened.

This intervention may include not only patients with bulimia, binge eating and obesity issues but also others that, despite not having these diagnosis and presenting a normal weight considering their structure, also present unhealthy relations towards food and their own body, dominated by an  emotional  eating disorder. Although, for the most severe cases of eating disorders it is not possible to obtain complete results in the course of a limited stay, it is common to continue an ambulatory follow-up care without affecting its efficacy.

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