Q: How can you treat an eating disorder like binge eating or overeating – but with self-coaching and without having to go to a nutritional specialist or a therapist? I could do it. I just need practical steps.

A: There are so many factors to consider, but here are the basics:

If the problem isn’t really severe, you can probably take care of things just by getting the information you need from reputable web sites related to nutrition, maintaining a balance diet, etc. But if you have already checked out such information (and I bet you have…), then you do need to speak to a professional therapist and maybe also a nutritionist.

Most people with a true eating disorder are people who have been overly controlled (usually by their birth family, but sometimes also by a romantic partner) some time in the past. The eating disorder seems to them to be “the only thing I can control” — so they feel compelled to continue to prove to themselves, over and over, that they can control this one aspect of their lives (by overeating or by eating too little, it doesn’t matter which).

I suggest that you see a therapist, and I bet you understand that it’s better to have a real therapist than to try to do it all on your own! Actually, most things, whether they are therapy related or not, are better done with someone than alone. (If you also have shame issues that make you want to not be seen in person, that only complicates matters… but it doesn’t change the fact that you need a professional to help you.)

If you like, I can tell you about a woman I know who works with eating disorders online. I could ask her if she has any openings and if it’s OK for me to give you her contact information. (I’d still suggest that you see someone in person, but if you don’t want to do that you could talk to this woman I met along the way. She was very good at helping someone I was seeing in therapy at the time, and she did offer the practical steps you want.)

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