Help me eat/feel better.
July 2, 2009 3:26 PM   Subscribe

How can I find a general therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues?

I'm significantly overweight. Over the past year or so, I've been seeing a nutritionist, though it hasn't had much effect on my habits or behaviors. A few months ago, I stopped seeing her, because I found that I tried to use my nutritionist as a therapist: I'd talk with her about my issues with food and eating, but those issues are wrapped up in my general life issues (I can find it difficult to do things to take care of myself), and she wasn't up to the task.

It seems to me that a better way to tackle my issues with food (which are pretty garden variety: emotional eating, using food as a reward, inability to keep myself from eating everything that's put in front of me) would be to see an actual therapist, but one who helps people with eating issues. Do such therapists exist? How do I find one in the New York area (and specifically one who works on a sliding scale)?

I've never used a therapist before, but this is an area in which I could really use some help. Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, they do exist. A lot of therapists I've dealt with seem to be good with working with the emotional issues around food/eating/etc, and there are therapists who specialize in people with eating disorders or just plain old eating issues. I don't know any in the New York area, but I am sure there are some. If you were in the Boston area, I'd point you to Rivka Simmons.

While you're therapist hunting, you might find some of these books helpful:
The Rules of Normal Eating
Intuitive Eating
Karen Koenig's stuff, particularly The Food and Feelings Workbook
posted by rmd1023 at 4:16 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

The definitely exist, even here in sleepy Connecticut. If you're still on speaking terms with your nutritionist, ask him or her for a recommendation. Your nutrionist (presumably) already knows you and the services available in the area and should be able to point you in the right direction. If you're not comfortable speaking with your nutritionist, try calling Renfrew Center (1-800-RENFREW) or Renuda Ranch (1-800-445-1900) and see if they can make a recommendation. Good luck, anonymous.
posted by Maisie at 5:23 PM on July 2, 2009

Not a therapist, but Golda Poretsky takes a holistic approach to nutrition and body wellness. I've heard good things about her.
posted by kimdog at 6:48 PM on July 2, 2009

Were you seeing a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders? That might help. My nutritionist and I discuss food primarily, but we definitely talk about how I feel when I'm eating (or not eating) and the like. We rarely talk about things totally unrelated to food/ weight/ etc., however.

The best option would probably to see both a therapist (ideally one who has experience with emotional eating type issues) to address more general life issues, taking care of yourself, etc and a nutritionist (who ideally specializes in eating disorders) to help you deal with the food aspect of it all. I know for an eating disorder, addressing both the psychological and physical issues are essential - dealing with one or the other doesn't work. It sounds like you have a(n unfortunately fairly common) type of disordered eating, and I think that working on the emotional and physical aspects of eating healthfully and self-care would be most helpful to you.

I have a friend with issues quite similar to yours. One of the women in my [eating disorder treatment] group with very extensive experience with eating disorders and treatment recommended the Intuitive Eating book as well - I'm planning to buy it for my friend.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:11 PM on July 2, 2009

Something Fishy has a great and quite comprehensive treatment finder that includes individual therapists and nutritionists/dietitians.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:57 PM on July 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Eating Disorders" is one of the "I'm Looking For Help With..." options on the Psychology Today therapist finder. Most of the therapists have several specialties listed, and their little bio should tell you more about how their handling of eating issues interacts with their overall approach.
posted by doift at 4:48 AM on July 3, 2009

The last couple of therapists I've had (found through the Psychology Today finder that doift recommended) offered an introductory phone session that functioned like a pre-intake interview on both ends. I asked specifically about experience with eating disorders, even though that wasn't my primary issue.

Good luck. You're not alone. Intuitive Eating helped a lot, as did general mindfulness practice.
posted by catlet at 2:00 PM on July 3, 2009

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