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Eating Disorder Treatment in Salt Lake City

Leann Casto – LCSW

LeAnn has over 30 yrs experience treating depression, anxiety, personality disorders, addictions, couples, individuals, and children. LeAnn believes the work between client and therapist is a collaboration and further believes that one can't change a problem without truly understanding the problem and the person having it. She does psychodynamic, cognitive, educative, and supportive work to help her clients change and grow.

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Eating disorders need instant treatment.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two of the most commonly developed eating disorders. These illnesses are complicated and can be deadly when left untreated. Many people assume that eating disorders are about food and the desire to be thin. However, most people who suffer from eating disorders use food and unhealthy behaviors like dieting, starving, binging and purging to cope with stress, emotions and negativity.

If you, or someone you love, are suffering from an eating disorder, know that there is help available for you. You should also know that this is an illness, not a lifestyle choice or habit. People don’t choose to have eating disorders and you often cannot tell whether someone is suffering based solely on their appearance. People with eating disorders can be underweight, normal weight or overweight.

Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can be caused by a range of things, from genetics, biochemistry and psychology, to culture and environment. Individuals with anxiety, low self-esteem and depression are often prone to eating disorders as a way to cope. We also live in a culture that values thinness and directly associates body shape and weight with beauty and worth. This pressure often causes people to develop an eating disorder so they can fit in and match up to a societal standard.

The Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Perfectionism, an obsession with control and a display of compulsive habits
  • Skipping meals, eating tiny portions, won’t eat in front of others, eats in ritualistic ways, chews food but spit it out before swallowing and create strange food combination
  • Always has an excuse not to eat
  • Becomes disgusted with formerly favorite foods
  • Only eats “safe” foods
  • Boasts about healthy diet
  • Claims to be “vegetarian” but will not eat necessary nutrients required by vegetarianism
  • Drastically reduces fat intake and reads food labels obsessively
  • Obsession with exercise and checking weight
  • Might abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Consistent self-criticism, use of the word “fat”
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Always wears baggy clothing

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Impulsive, volatile and risky behavior
  • Vomits after breaking the self-imposed rigid eating rules
  • Abuses laxatives, diet pills or water pills
  • Obsessively uses natural products from health food stores to promote weight loss
  • Might abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Leaves behind clues of purging like foul smelling bathrooms, running water to cover up vomiting sounds and excessively uses mouthwash and mints
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Hypertensive (high blood pressure)
  • A sore throat, dental erosions, esophagitis and electrolyte imbalance all due to vomiting

Call Us Today

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be extremely dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with these symptoms, contact us in Salt Lake City at (801) 261-3500.

Understanding Anorexia and Bulimia


Anorexia Nervosa: Anorectics restrict their caloric intake for long periods of time and deliberately starve themselves, resulting in loss of body weight of at least 15 percent. Weight loss is achieved by avoiding food, frenzied exercise, vomiting, laxatives and other means. Other characteristics of anorexia nervosa are an intense fear of becoming obese and distorted body image.

Bulimia Nervosa: A cyclic pattern of binge eating associated with some type of purging describes bulimia nervosa. Purging takes on several different forms: fasting, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercising or use of substances to speed up or ease digestion.

Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are often present together. These disorders are prevalent among women, especially between the ages of 12 and 30. One in 150 females suffers from anorexia nervosa, and recent studies on college campuses show that almost 20 percent of college females have bulimia nervosa.

What are Some Danger Signs of an Eating Disorder?

  • Caloric restriction, binge eating and secretive eating.
  • Extreme preoccupation with food (preparing food for others, shopping for others, reading recipes and food magazines, thinking and dreaming about food or binge eating).
  • Distorted body image (claiming to feel fat when one is emaciated).
  • Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas and diet pills.
  • Inordinate amounts of exercise.

Eating Disorders are Hazardous to Your Health


Eating Disorders can be extremely dangerous. Serious medical complications include sore throats and painful swelling of the cheeks in individuals who vomit frequently as well as tooth decay, loss of enamel and gum disease.

In serious cases, the body suffers from heart and kidney damage. The stomach can rupture, one can contract frequent urinary infections and suffer osteoporosis (the thinning of bones). Finally, menstrual irregularities and difficulties are also common in women with eating disorders.

How Does an Eating Disorder Develop?


Most researchers agree that eating disorders are an expression of unresolved psychological conflict. The psychological conflict an individual is experiencing may be a result of traumatic life experiences such as physical or sexual abuse or any other life experiences that leave the individual feeling flawed and defective.

Eating Disorders are a Form of Substance Abuse


Eating disorders are a form of substance abuse, and individuals who struggle with them appear to go through similar addictive cycles as those who suffer with drug and alcohol abuse. An obsession with food and dieting often becomes a way in which these individuals alleviate inner distress. In other words, their eating disorder becomes a diversion from negative thoughts or negative life experiences. By subordinating their actions to the goal of weight loss, victims believe (consciously or unconsciously) that they can bring structure and meaning to a world that they feel to be otherwise chaotic and beyond their control. Ironically, by pouring their talents and energies into dieting, some eating-disorder victims do become totally out of control.

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