Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder

In this episode...

Eating disorders have a reputation for wrecking emotional havoc in a family and trigger strong emotional reactions in loved ones and therapists who can end up in a tug of war to make the disturbing symptoms stop.

But eating disorder specialist Dana Harron, author of Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder: Understanding, Supporting, and Connecting with Your Partner. She says love and compassion are key ingredients to successful treatment.

In this episode of The Soul of Life, I speak with Dana about the most common types of disordered eating, and we separate eating disorder facts from fiction.

 “My partner said that I look really healthy today, and that sounds like a really good thing to say but—oh—that’s going to trigger the eating disorder really badly.”

We review some of the most common eating disorders, like binging.

“People who binge eat….binge eating is eating a lot of food in a very short period of time. And typically a person is doing it for reasons numbing feelings, or a small scale psychic rebellion or maybe they just feel out of control around food.”

Restrictive eating… “We get feel-good chemicals from eating, because out body wants us to eat. But for some people depending on your genetics, you can get feel good chemicals from not eating.”

We talk about bulimia, anorexia, and exercise addiction and what may be at the root of these symptoms.

Dana explains how disordered eating affects sex, often shutting down a fully in-the-moment sensory experience in place of performative detachment. And Dana updates us on the wildly inaccurate under-calculation of the prevalence of disordered eating among boys and men which has historically been thought of as 1 in 10 males.

"If you can find the parts of you that feel vulnerable that wishes they could hide. I have a client who says 'My cringe-worthy self.' If you can find that part of yourself then you can meet your partner there.”

                       – Eating disorder therapist Dana Harron
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