SPECIAL REPORT: There is recovery after an eating disorder

By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGOCHES, TX (KTRE) -The start to recovering from an eating disorder is admitting the problem. Licensed professional counselor Dr. Debra Burton uses the shock factor.

"They can recognize it when it's away from themselves, but when they look at their own image they can't see it," said Burton.

Another step is to unlearn eating disorder behaviors.

"With anorexia we can often times begin to lose heart muscles. There's no reserves and your body begins to lose muscle. And when the heart is affected, it can result in death. As far as bulimia, there's the binge purge cycle and this is where they can have binges that can be up to 2500 to 3500 calories in one setting," said Burton.

University counselor Charlotte Jackson helps introduce healthy alternatives.

"Their nutrition, many times, needs to be looked at because they may not understand what is a good amount of food intake, what are the appropriate calories for their height and size. We discuss exercise, what's reasonable exercise," said Jackson.

"What we do is weigh, but we don't want them to see their weight," said Burton.

Weight is part of the medical monitoring. Scales are turned backwards.

"You step on it this way and they're not able to look at their weight and I record it. We don't want to get too focused on numbers," explains Burton.

Eating disorder recovery is more than just changing your eating habits.

It's also about mental health counseling, starting with learning to like yourself.

"I know in me my word, He said he created me fearfully and wonderfully in my time. And I know He did that for all, said Alicia Stocker.

Alicia Stoker wasn't always so confident. Proper intervention is helping her control anorexia and bulimia.

The graduate student is now a motivational speaker. She's organizing next week's eating disorder awareness week.

"I don't ever want another little girl to look in the mirror and hate themselves the way I used to look in the mirror and be upset with what I saw. It doesn't feel good. You can't push it away, like no matter how much you smile, you still feel that brokenness on the inside," said

Eating disorder recovery is about seeking professional help, improving health and developing a long term treatment plan.

Eating disorder expert Dr. Deborah Michael will speak at SFA on Friday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m., in the Kennedy Auditorium.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Feb. 22-26. Informational panels will be displayed from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Baker Patillo Student Center.

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