February 22nd to February 28th 2016 is International Eating Disorders Awareness Week, so there will be more than the usual information, features and articles available on Eating Disorders in the media and online all next week.

If you:

  • Have an Eating Disorder;
  • Have an unhealthy relationship with food but are not sure if it can be called an ‘Eating Disorder’;
  • Don’t think you have an Eating Disorder but know that you eat for emotional or stress release reasons;

…you may find this coming week difficult, but I hope it will also be reassuring.  The fact that Eating Disorders will be highlighted to the extent that they will, tells you something important.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


From a Therapist’s perspective, it is always important that we are somewhat aware of ‘where’ a client is at, so we can meet them there.  There’s a model of ‘Therapeutic Change’ that I use, and show clients all the time.  This is it:

prochaska & diclemente simple

What this model shows is where a client (or someone thinking of becoming a client), might be in their own understanding of their Eating Disorder or Eating Behaviour – and by the way, it can be applied to any issue, not just ED.

Pre-Contemplation: Problem? What problem? There is no problem here.  This is also known as denial.

Contemplation: Actually, there MIGHT be a problem but it’s not that serious and I can handle it.  This usually means going on another restrictive diet, joining a slimming group, buying a weight loss program – in short, doing what you’ve always done which has never worked in the long run.

Determination (Preparation): There’s a problem.  I really must do something about this before it……Fill in the blank – Gets out of control, ruins my relationship, begins to affect my family/child….

Action:  I’m doing something about my problem.

Maintenance: I’m using tools, strategies, therapy, friends/family etc to keep the problem at bay or under control and I feel pretty good most of the time.

Relapse:  I’ve fallen back into one of the previous stages.


Clients, when they come in, really need to be somewhere between Preparation and Action.  Otherwise they will drop out pretty quickly.  A colleague of mine summed this up very nicely recently, she said “It’s like they want to BE better, but not GET better.  When they are Not-Yet-Ready they want a sticking plaster solution, a quick fix, which is what they always believe the next diet will be.  They are not in the Action phase, which means having an understanding that changing is hard and it takes time and it weight loss just cannot be the focus”.   Well said Fionnuala Darcy! (ED Specialist in Dublin, Ireland).

So where are you on the model of ‘Readiness to Change’?

If you are in the pre-contemplation phase then it’s unlikely you are reading this article!

If you are in the contemplation phase, or if you are concerned, or curious, NEDA – the US National Eating Disorders Association – have an online screening tool that takes 3 minutes to complete.  http://nedawareness.org/get-screened.  To me this is a ‘finger in the air’ exercise, just get some information and see how you feel about it.

If you are in the preparation phase and know you need to do something but are not sure what to do, sign up for my 12-week online program.  I wrote this program for adults who are struggling in their relationship with food, but are not yet ready or able to take the scary step into therapy.  I KNOW how hard it is for potential clients to pick up the phone or walk through the door of my room.  So like Mohammad and the Mountain, if you cannot yet come to see me, or any professional, yet, I had to find a way to get my support to YOU.  And that’s why I developed this program.  At the end of this article you’ll find the link.

If you are in the action phase, then that is great.   Again, if you really want to do something but you are not yet quite ready or able to attend a therapist, I recommend my program, which will give you loads to think about, and be a great base for subsequently going to a Therapist, either whilst you are working your way through the program, or afterwards.  Again, at the end of this article you’ll find the link.

If you are ready to go to a therapist, you can access face to face therapy with an expert in your area, or if you are geographically restricted you can seek support online.  That might be an online support group from an Eating Disorders Association – Bodywhys in Ireland have online groups for example – or online counselling with an Eating Disorders Specialist.  Your go-to resource should be your own local or international Eating Disorders Association for details of specialist helpers – Therapists, Doctors, In-patient programs, Nutritional Therapists, Support Groups, etc.  Or a visit to your GP/Doctor could help, as they may have details of a Therapist or Nutritional Therapist with Eating Disorders experience whom they can recommend to you.  http://www.bodywhys.ie/supportServices/online-support-group/

If you have sought help previously and are in the maintenance phase, then congratulations, and well done on having the courage to reach out and ask for the help you needed.

And if you have had help previously but feel you are relapsing or have relapsed, then either get back in touch with your Therapist, Doctor or Nutritional Therapist who helped you first time round, or again you can try my program which should remind you of much of the work you would have done in therapy and can give you back some control through the tools and strategies you’ll learn/re-learn.  At the end of this article you’ll find the link.

Because it is International Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I want to make my 12-week program available to as many people as possible.  So we have more than halved the cost for the first time ever, and will let the discount run until the end of the first week in March – Sunday 6th March.

The program is usually €125, but for this fortnight it is available for only €50. 

That’s 12 weeks of comprehensive support, advice and practical strategies for less than the cost of one session of face to face therapy. 

Just use the code EDAW16 at the checkout to avail of this discount.  Online Eating Disorders Program