Thursday, June 9, 2016

Eating Disorders Are Not an Extreme Diet

“I have it on very good authority that the quest for perfection our society demands can leave the individual gasping for breath at every turn. This pressure inevitably extends to the way we look. Eating disorders, whether it be anorexia or bulimia, show how an individual can turn the nourishment of the body into a painful attack on themselves.” – Diana, Princess of Wales

Recently, singer Meghan Trainor took her music label to task for altering her image. Apparently, the company digitally slimmed her waistline in the video of her song, “Me Too.” Trainor was happy and confident with her talent and her body image. Apparently, the record company had a different idea, which is why the tweak was ordered in the first place. Long story short, the video was promptly taken down and replaced with the original version, sans photo-shopped images and exactly how the singer wanted to be presented.

But not everybody has the opportunity or resources (internal or otherwise) to determine how to present herself and be perceived by others. With so many magazines and movies/television programs featuring uber-slim models and actors/actresses, it is not surprising that we integrate the message that this is how they should look. After all, that is the image the media and clothes designers want to promote. NBC’s popular weight-loss program, The Biggest Loser, makes the process of losing weight into a competition. In this case, the “winner” is the person who has dropped the most weight within the duration of the series (just a few months). Is it really surprising when someone takes these popular images and subconscious suggestions about the importance/value of looking like the beautiful people featured in the magazines, to an extreme? Apparently, there are websites devoted to the various ways a person can lose weight—including fasting and purging—and there are various dietary “supplements” available to suppress appetite and facilitate weight loss. 

An eating disorder is not an extreme version of a diet or extreme over-eating at a meal. There are three basic categories of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa; bulimia; and compulsive eating. In the context of this essay, I will address just the first two. Each is a very complicated, dangerous condition that can cause severe physiological destruction and even death. The symptoms and etiology (medical/psychiatric origin) of each are addressed in the Diagnostics and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, a basic reference guide for various psychiatric disorders. Typically, these conditions are out of scope of my or most other certified hypnotherapists’ professional expertise to address in hypnotherapy. To do so, I would have to receive a referral from the person’s (licensed) medical doctor and/or mental-health worker to work with the individual. Even then, my input as a hypnotherapist would be only to help the client fortify her or his self-confidence and self-esteem and reinforce new healthy-eating behaviors recommended by the person’s medical and psychiatric team. Ultimately, the treatment (management) of anorexia nervosa and bulimia is often a lifelong process which must be done under such medical supervision.

You can watch the late Princess of Wales’s entire speech about eating disorders at,

Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit
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