Body Positive

15 03, 2017

Dying To Be Thin: Anorexia Nervosa

2017-03-22T21:39:54+00:00 March 15th, 2017|0 Comments

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a disease in which individuals severely restrict their energy intake.  This leads to significant low body weight in context to the person’s age, development trajectory, sex and physical health. Those diagnosed typically have an intense fear of gaining weight.  They may also have a disturbance in the way their body is shaped along with denial of the seriousness of the diagnosis or medical consequences. Men or women suffering from anorexia may find that it is difficult to maintain the appropriate weight for their age and height.  Anorexia affects men and women of all ages and some individuals may not simply restrict their intake; they may purge, use laxatives, manipulate prescribed medicines, or exercise excessively as their primary mode of restriction and compensation.

According to NEDA, anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities.   There is evidence the people have suffered from anorexia for thousands of years all over the world.   Anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic disease after asthma and diabetes. Often the disorder occurs in adults and adolescents but diagnosis is increasing in elderly populations.  It is important to remember that extremely low body fat percentages aren’t the only indicator for diagnosis. Some clients may even appear be of average size or even overweight.

Those suffering from the most common forms of anorexia tend to be severely underweight or malnourished, which can lead to many health complications.  Not only are they suffering on the outside, but there is also usually severe internal damage occurring as well. Some of the hidden internal damage attributable to anorexia nervosa can be brain shrinkage due to malnourishment and over time, the body effectively begins to “eat itself” due to the extreme and often extended states of starvation.Generally, the health risks of anorexia become more severe as the disorder progresses.  Other possible consequences include:

  • Development of heart conditions
  • Impairment of blood sugar management including the possibility of Diabetes
  • Loss of bone mass
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia
  • Anemia
  • Infertility

There are many red flags to help identify those who may be suffering from anorexia nervosa.  Below are some indications:

  • Obsession with fat and calorie contents
  • Feeling cold most of the time due to lack of fat on organs
  • Continual dieting even though the person is underweight
  • Amenorrhea which is an absence 3 consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Brittle nails
  • Becoming isolated or withdrawn from social situations especially around food
  • Ritualistic eating patterns
  • Excessive exercise
  • Obsession with body weight and looks
  • Avoidance of eating

Anorexia is a deadly disease.  It has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric conditions and can destroy not only a person’s body but it also affects their mind, body and spirit. Even though the disorder can be deadly there is hope!  Awareness of eating disorders and a body positive movement is growing nationwide.

Those suffering have a variety of treatment options based on the severity of their symptoms and current functioning: inpatient hospitalization, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient treatment, and many insurance carriers will cover therapy and treatment for eating disorders. Due to the complexity of the disorder, it is critical individuals suffering from anorexia be treated by qualified, experienced counselors and treatment teams specializing in eating disorders.

Rachel Peru is a clinical intern in the process of completing her Masters in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663

8 03, 2017

Eating Disorders: Men Suffer Too!

2017-03-22T21:40:47+00:00 March 8th, 2017|0 Comments

When people think of eating disorders they often think it’s all about women.  This is not always the case: eating disorders can and DO effect males, and they can suffer from a range of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

According to The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at sometime in their life.  Men who identify as homosexual have a higher rate of eating disorders ranking at 15% and heterosexual males at 5%.  Just like their female counterparts, men with eating disorders may also suffer from depression, substance use, anxiety and excessive exercising.  Males may also suffer from body dysmorphia, where they obsess over real or perceived body flaws and muscle dysmorphia, where they obsess about being small worry that they are too “little” or too frail.

As with their female counterparts, men are bombarded with media images where men are portrayed with young, tall, strong, “built” physiques…often facing media pressure to look a certain way that is not attainable for most.  It can be very difficult for men struggling with eating disorders to seek treatment; they are often faced with social stigma and misunderstandings about how eating disorders affect their gender.  Getting a clear diagnosis can also be problematic as many of the assessment tests used tend to use language catering to women.

The good news? Prevention and treatment are available for men suffering from an eating disorder.  It is important to know the warning signs and risk factors of an eating disorder.

Genetic Vulnerability
Sociocultural Influences
Psychological Factors such as

  • perfectionism
  • obsessive-compulsiveness
  • neuroticism
  • negative emotionality
  • harm avoidance
  • core low self-esteem
  • traits associated with avoidant personality disorder

Using these warning signs, professionals and loved ones can help identify those who are at risk for an eating disorder.  It is important to keep in mind that men of all ages, shapes and sizes can suffer from any form of eating disorder or disordered eating.

Rachel Peru is a Counseling Intern at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling.

If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call!  We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future.  (623) 810-1663




15 02, 2017

Explore The Connections Between Food, Body & Feelings

2017-03-13T13:37:06+00:00 February 15th, 2017|0 Comments


  • Do you find it hard to love your body?
  • Are you done with fad diets?
  • Do you think you “should” exercise, but you’re embarrassed to go to the gym?
  • Have you considered the relationship between food and feelings?
  • Do you eat certain foods to help you feel better?

Join our EMOTIONAL AND BINGE EATING PROCESS GROUP which begins March 29th and meets weekly on Wednesday nights from 6:00-7:30 in our Glendale, AZ office.

If you live or work in the greater metropolitan Phoenix area, please join us and connect with others who share your struggles, and begin to move towards healing and wellness. Topics covered will include nutrition, body image, movement and more!

Call our office for details: 623.810.1663.

22 03, 2016

How to Use the Body Positive Idea To Facilitate Your Recovery

2017-01-17T01:45:13+00:00 March 22nd, 2016|0 Comments

There’s a new movement occurring across the nation, including in Phoenix Arizona, that may affect you. It’s one that has been suppressed for many years. Luckily, some brave souls have stepped out of the mold to bring a new aspect of healing to light.

It’s called body positivity, and basically, you’re given permission to love your body no matter what size you are.

Being Shamed, Shunned and Neglected in Phoenix Doesn’t Have to Happen Anymore

For many years, those that were overweight or obese have been shamed to the point where they can hardly stand to look in the mirror. What they see in their reflection is someone that is unhealthy, someone that looks ugly, and someone who is not worthy of receiving good things in life.

Health practitioners have been supporting this bad idea for decades, blaming overweightness and obesity for a number of health disorders that affect the nation. The list of disorders includes diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic ovaries, high cholesterol, joint problems, back problems and even stomach disorders. Their reasoning is that studies prove that being obese is connected to being unhealthy.

Many health practitioners in Phoenix Arizona and elsewhere even go to extremes, attempting to address a patient’s overweight condition when the patient did not come in for weight loss.

Consequently, the patient ends up being hit with overwhelming feelings of frustration and depression, which plug into his or her neurological pathways contributing to eating disorders, yoyo dieting, self-loathing. What this means is that the cycle of negative thoughts and feelings is ‘fed’ by the establishment.

The Media is Part of the ‘Collusion’, Thus Contributing to Eating Disorders

Of course, the media is constantly programming us all to be thin and beautiful and to fall for the myth that only those who meet these requirements are entitled to everlasting happiness.

What about you? Have you noticed negative ramifications from this type of ‘attack’?

What would happen if you suddenly changed your whole paradigm and simply started loving yourself, no matter what the number is on your scale? This is the whole idea behind the Body Positive Movement that fosters total body acceptance.

And it’s catching on. Women in Phoenix Arizona and other major cities in the U.S. are realizing that they really can feel OKAY with their body – and this does them some good.

Body Positivity Now Has Research Behind It

One researcher, Harriet Brown, has even documented how science, history and culture drive the obsession with weight in her book.  The central theory behind it is called Health at Every Size or HAES. This idea is basically that you should forget about reaching a certain body size and go for what works for your body.

And it makes a lot of sense. In fact, it brings up the fact that modern medicine really likes to treat everyone the same way – and ignores individuality. Insurance companies are geared towards physicians only treating patients one way, and doctors are chastised for thinking outside the box and/or going beyond medicine’s stymied view to really try to foster health transformation.

As a result, the alternative medicine movement has risen in power and social standing among patients of all ages.

There’s even a nonprofit association dedicated to the Body Positive movement, which may be found at The charity’s co-founder, Elizabeth Scott, is even offering an upcoming two-day training for health professionals on May 13-14, 2016 to initiate body positive campaigns across the nation via the community and in schools.

According to Ms. Scott, boosting body image is based on five core competencies:

  1. Reclaim health.
  2. Practice intuitive self-care.
  3. Cultivate self-love.
  4. Declare your own authentic beauty.
  5. Build community.

Results from an additional research study done at Stanford University on the whole model is expected to be released later this year.

So think about this body positive concept today. Why not give up society’s standards and move into a new time where what’s important is YOU?