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A guide for overcoming an eating disorder in 2024 by a Birmingham Therapist Eating Disorder Specialist.

Eating disorders can affect individuals regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or body composition, leading to diverse physical, mental, and emotional manifestations. Treatment approaches encompass cognitive therapy, medication, and various therapies tailored to the specific disorder type.

As we freshly start a new year, many individuals embark on a journey to improve their lives through New Year’s resolutions. However, it’s not uncommon for these resolutions to falter and fade away within a few weeks.

If you’re someone who has struggled with an eating disorder, you may have experienced the frustration of setting goals related to your eating habits, only to find yourself back in the same cycle.

Eating disorders pose a serious threat, impacting individuals across the board. Approximately 0.3% and 0.9% of people will encounter bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder at some point in their lives. Common symptoms encompass recurrent binge eating, obsessive focus on body shape and weight, and the adoption of compensatory actions like self-induced vomiting, laxative use, intense exercise, and restriction (please note that compensatory behaviors specifically pertain to bulimia nervosa).

As a Birmingham therapist specializing in eating disorder therapy, I am here to guide you through the process of overcoming eating disorders in 2024. This guide will provide valuable insights into why most resolutions fail and how to make lasting changes in your life.

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What Is An Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder, a profound mental health concern, impacts both emotional and physical well-being. It entails an unhealthy relationship with food, body weight, or appearance, encompassing conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Fortunately, eating disorders are treatable, but if left unaddressed, they can lead to life-threatening complications.

Roughly 20 million females and 10 million males across the United States grapple with eating disorders, a condition influenced by a myriad of intricate factors such as genetics, brain physiology, individual traits, societal standards, and mental well-being.

Types of Eating Disorders

There several more common types of eating disorders, and it’s possible for individuals to experience more than one type. These disorders encompass:

1. Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia nervosa involves severe food and calorie restriction, often leading to self-starvation. It can affect individuals of any body size and is characterized by an overwhelming desire to shed pounds, accompanied by a refusal to consume adequate amounts of food suitable for their body type and activity level.

2. Bulimia nervosa: People with bulimia nervosa engage in binge-eating episodes, consuming large quantities of food in a short period. Following these episodes, they may engage in purging behaviors, such as vomiting, using laxatives, or excessively exercising, in an attempt to rid their bodies of the consumed calories.

3. Binge eating disorder (BED): Those with binge eating disorder experience compulsive overeating episodes, consuming substantial amounts of food in a brief timeframe. However, unlike bulimia, individuals with BED do not engage in purging or excessive exercise. Instead, they often experience discomfort, along with emotions such as shame, regret, guilt, or depression after binge-eating episodes.

How Is An Eating Disorder Diagnosed?

Healthcare professionals, including doctors and specialists in mental health, are responsible for identifying and diagnosing eating disorders. When you consult your primary care provider, they will typically assess your symptoms, conduct a physical examination, and order relevant blood tests. On the other hand, mental health counselors, such as psychologists, psychotherapists, or psychiatrists, perform a comprehensive psychological assessment to gain insights into your eating behaviors and beliefs.

These healthcare experts rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) provided by the American Psychiatric Association to make an accurate diagnosis. The DSM offers a set of symptoms associated with various types of eating disorders.

It’s important to note that meeting every symptom is not a requirement for receiving an eating disorder diagnosis. In fact, even if your condition does not align precisely with a DSM-listed eating disorder, you may still require professional help in addressing food-related issues.

food and a food notebook

Understanding Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail: Overcoming An Eating Disorder

New Year’s resolutions often falter because they lack the foundation of specificity and clear goals. In 2024, it’s crucial to recognize that simply stating a vague resolution like “I want to have a healthy relationship with food” or “I want to eat healthier” isn’t enough to sustain change.

These types of resolutions are often too broad, making it difficult to track progress and measure success. The key to overcoming eating disorders is setting concrete, measurable, and specific goals that are based on your personal values.

For example, “I will eat three balanced meals a day, consisting of a variety of food groups, to nourish my body and mind.”

Instead of making a generic resolution, consider setting specific, achievable objectives that align with your values and priorities. For example, rather than saying, “I want to exercise a healthy amount,” you can set a goal like, “I want to exercise for 30 minutes five days a week and eat at least three servings of vegetables daily because I value my physical health and well-being.” This shift in approach makes it easier to track your progress and stay motivated.

Eating disorders can emerge across all age groups, impacting individuals irrespective of their gender, race, or ethnic background. It’s important to dispel the misconception that eating disorders predominantly afflict females, as boys and men face an equal risk. Various factors can increase one’s vulnerability to developing an eating disorder, including:

1. A family history characterized by eating disorders, addiction, or other mental health challenges like depression.

2. A past marked by trauma, whether physical, emotional, or sexual.

3. Personal experiences with anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

4. A history of engaging in dieting practices.

5. Additional considerations encompass:

  • The presence of diabetes, as up to one-fourth of women with Type 1 diabetes may develop an eating disorder.
  • Participation in activities that emphasize a slender physique, such as modeling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, or running.
  • Significant life transitions like starting a new school or job, experiencing a divorce, or relocating.
  • A penchant for perfectionism.

If you spend much of your time worrying about calories, obsessing about your body or how certain body parts look it may be time to seek help. If you have tried to set specific reasonable and measurable goals intended to foster a healthy relationship with food, exercise, and your own body but have not been able to on your own, do not despair.  Often times we need professional help to do so. Early detection and treatment are crucial for eating disorder recovery. Fortunately, Empower Counseling has Dr. Lucia Haladjian, Birmingham Therapist and eating disorder specialist.

Two women smiling and eating

How Change Can Happen: Overcoming an Eating Disorder

A. Recognize the Thoughts That Have Been Stopping You

Eating disorders are often fueled by negative thoughts and beliefs about food, body image, and self-worth. Start by identifying these destructive thought patterns and challenging them. Cognitive-behavioral techniques, often used in anxiety counseling, can be effective in this process.

One of the first steps in overcoming eating disorders in 2024 is to become aware of the negative thoughts and beliefs that have been holding you back. These thoughts can often be deeply ingrained and may include distorted body image perceptions or feelings of guilt and shame related to food. Identifying and challenging these thoughts is essential for initiating change.

If you have an eating disorder, you will not notice the extent of your negative, unhealthy thoughts fueling the disorder on your own. Working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders can be instrumental in this process, as they can help you navigate these complex issues and develop healthier thought patterns.

B. Gaining Clarity Around Your Values

Understanding your core values is crucial in making lasting changes. What are the principles that guide your life? It could be health, self-love, or relationships. By aligning your goals with your values, you create a strong foundation for change. A Birmingham therapist can assist you in exploring and defining your values.

True transformation often begins with a deep understanding of your values and what truly matters to you. In 2024, it’s essential to reflect on your values and consider how they relate to your relationship with food and your body. By aligning your goals with your values, you can create a strong foundation for lasting change. For instance, if you value self-care and self-compassion, you may set goals that prioritize nurturing your body and mind, such as practicing mindfulness during meals or seeking support from loved ones. Once again, if you are in the throws of an eating disorder, doing this on your own is too much to ask. Having a professional eating disorder therapist guide you through this practice is a must.

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Recognize That Lasting Change Is Not Immediate: Overcoming an Eating Disorder for Good

It’s essential to acknowledge that overcoming eating disorders and establishing a healthy relationship with food and your body is a gradual process. In 2024, the expectation of immediate results can be a significant stumbling block. Sustainable change takes time, effort, and patience. It involves not only modifying behaviors but also addressing the underlying emotional and psychological aspects that contribute to the disorder.

Recognizing that lasting change is a journey can help you stay committed and resilient on your path to recovery. It’s normal to experience setbacks and moments of doubt, but these should not deter you from your ultimate goal.

Working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders can provide ongoing support and guidance as you navigate the ups and downs of your journey toward a healthier relationship with food and yourself. Remember that change is possible, and by understanding the reasons behind failed resolutions and implementing a thoughtful, values-based approach, you can make significant progress in 2024 and beyond.

a woman eating who has a healthy relationship with  food after therapy for eating disorders/ Birmingham Al/ Dr. Lucia Haladjian

Recognize When You Need Professional Help

While self-help strategies can be valuable, eating disorders often require specialized assistance. If you find that your eating disorder is significantly impacting your life, it’s essential to seek professional help. Birmingham offers numerous resources for individuals struggling with eating disorders, including counseling and therapy with a Birmingham based eating disorder specialist.

Set Realistic Goals to Overcome an Eating Disorder

Setting achievable, realistic goals is essential for maintaining motivation and preventing burnout. Collaborate with your Birmingham therapist to establish a step-by-step plan that is manageable and sustainable. Celebrate your progress along the way to stay motivated.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) stand out as highly recommended and effective approaches for tackling eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, according to both the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

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Start Healing with Your Birmingham Therapist, Lucia, at Empower Counseling

At Empower Counseling in Birmingham, we are dedicated to helping individuals overcome eating disorders. Our therapist,  Lucia can help you overcome this disorder. Meet, Dr. Lucia Haladjian, your Birmingham Anxiety Therapist.

Dr. Lucia is your dedicated partner on the path to self-discovery and empowerment. With eight years of experience in the mental health field, Lucia specializes in helping women identify and overcome negative beliefs and life challenges, guiding them toward self-love and personal growth.

Beyond her extensive background in individual and group therapy, she has conducted community outreach workshops on vital topics like suicide prevention, depression awareness, body image stress, conflict resolution, test anxiety, and stress management.

Her mission? To help clients break free from unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior, enabling them to embrace the best versions of themselves. She creates a safe space for clients to build healthier relationships with themselves and others while destigmatizing mental health concerns.

What Sets Lucia Apart in Birmingham

Dr. Lucia Haladjian holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate University and an MA in Clinical Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Areas of Therapeutic Focus

Her expertise extends to working with children, adolescents, and adults across partial, inpatient, and outpatient settings. Her specialized training covers psychodynamic interpersonal and relational therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and cognitive behavioral approaches.

Her commitment to helping you overcome an eating disorder shines through. However, Lucia also addresses a wide range of issues, from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and PTSD, to intergenerational trauma, body image concerns, women’s topics, and interpersonal issues.

Count on her for in-person and online counseling services in Birmingham, specializing in:

  • Eating and Body-Image Concerns
  • Eating Disorder Therapy
  • Anxiety Therapy
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Women’s Issues
  • Interpersonal Issues.
  • Conclusion


Overcoming eating disorders in 2024 is a journey that requires commitment, self-awareness, and the right support. By understanding the common pitfalls of New Year’s resolutions, recognizing the need for professional help, setting realistic goals, and aligning your actions with your values, you can take significant steps toward recovery.

Remember that overcoming an eating disorder is a process, and with the guidance of a Birmingham therapist specializing in eating disorder therapy, you can build a healthier relationship with food and yourself, leading to a brighter and more fulfilling future.

When you’re ready to take the next step towards a brighter future, Lucia is here to guide you through your journey to empowerment and well-being through these simple steps:

  1. Reach out to Empower Counseling and schedule your initial appointment.
  1. Get acquainted with your therapist, Lucia.
  1. Embark on your journey towards personal growth and success.

Start therapy for eating Disorders or disordered eating today with Dr. Lucia Haladjian with Empower Counseling in Birmingham.

Therapy for eating disorders is not the only service we offer at our Birmingham Area counseling clinic. KathrynMartiSavannah, and Lucia offer anxiety counseling, counseling for trauma and PTSD, counseling for depression, , bipolar treatment, and counseling for perfectionism and therapy for women’s issues

We offer our services to teens with teen counseling, counseling for college students at Samford University, The University of AlabamaAuburn University, and all colleges in the state of Alabama, young adultsadults, and professionals.

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Do I Need Therapy For Eating Disorders? By A Birmingham Al. Therapist

New Year, New You? How Therapy In Birmingham Can Help

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