Eating Disorders

While overcoming all substance addictions is difficult, recovering from an eating disorder is particularly challenging. This is because everyone has to eat to live! Generally, people don’t need to smoke, drink alcohol or abuse drugs in order to live (although a suffering addict might claim otherwise!).

Whether an eating disordered individual is suffering from Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Compulsive Overeating, or Binge Eating Disorder, her (or his) relationship with food is not normal. Most people, who are not eating disordered themselves, really struggle to understand how one can form such a warped relationship with food. They simply cannot grasp the pathological behaviors associated with food, body image and eating. Some of these behaviors include purging, abusing laxatives, over exercising, restrictive eating, starving, bingeing to the point of being in physical pain, or compulsively overeating to the point of becoming morbidly obese.

One of the most common barriers to getting help for an eating disorder is the shame felt by the sufferer. Eating disorders are extremely isolating and the sufferer is usually profoundly lonely when they are finally ready to face the process of recovery. Therefore it is critical that they chose a program of recovery that will allow them to speak openly and freely about their eating behavior without the fear of being judged. Finding a therapist who is both qualified and experienced in treating eating disorders can be tough. Finding one with personal experience in battling and overcoming an eating disorder may seem like an insurmountable task – until now.

Barbara Jaurequi’s passion for helping the eating disordered population is both professional and personal. She began the process of recovery in January of 1996 and has remained abstinent from disordered eating for almost 16 years. Her ability to put clients at ease when talking about the most personal and private aspect of their lives comes from the fact that she truly understands the relentless and ruthless addiction of disordered eating.


“I drove my 15-year old son from Santa Barbara every week for six months to see Barbara Jaurequi. My son was a competitive wrestler and became bulimic trying to “make weight”. His father and I were referred to her by N.E.D.A – the National Eating Disorders Association. Because of traffic getting through Los Angeles, sometimes it took us over four hours to get to an appointment with her! But my son was getting better so we didn’t care. It was worth it.” He has not thrown up for over a year. He owes his life to her compassionate style and expertise as an eating disorders specialist.”

Bethany A. – Santa Barbara, CA

Ms. Jaurequi incorporates multiple theoretical modalities when working with the eating disordered to find the best approach for each individual. She rejects “cookie-cutter” approaches that put individual sufferers in treatment boxes that don’t fit! She listens, supports and guides clients throughout the therapeutic process without overwhelming them with unrealistic goals.


“If you are suffering from an eating disorder, I want you to know that you are not alone! I remember what it was like to live each day hoping that I could stop my disordered eating and behavior. I remember what it was like to get to the end of each day feeling like a failure and even more hopeless than I did the day before. I remember the shame and embarrassment I felt when talking about how, what, why, when and where I ate. I can remember the intense stress I felt at the doctor if I suspected I’d be weighed! I could go on and on and on. In the end, I found that only another eating disordered individual could truly understand the same kind of madness I felt around food, body image, and the insanely compulsive behaviors I engaged just to be thin! Fortunately, I can also remember the relief I felt when I entered the recovery process. I can personally testify to the miracles that have taken place in my life since I was relieved of the compulsion to hurt myself with food, dieting, and crazy behaviors.

Regardless of what aspect of disordered eating you or a loved one is experiencing, I hope that you will consider private therapy with someone who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. One-to- one therapy can truly be one of the most helpful tools there is in overcoming an eating disorder.”

Barbara Jaurequi, MS, LMFT, MAC



“My daughter saw Barbara Jaurequi for two years for anorexia nervosa. We had been to other therapists but my daughter could never identify with any of them. She trusted Barbara and was able to open up to her and finally move forward. She graduated from high school this year and we’ve never seen her as happy as she is today.”

Bianca L. – Chino Hills, CA


Common Signs to Help Identify an Eating Disorder in a Loved One

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Dresses in layers to hide weight loss
  • Is preoccupied with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refuses to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Makes frequent comments about feeling ‘fat’ or overweight despite weight loss
  • Complains of constipations, abdominal pain, coldness, fatigue and/or excess energy
  • Denies feeling hungry
  • Develops food rituals (e.g., eating foods in certain orders, eating only a certain color of food, chewing a particular number of times before swallowing, not allowing teeth to touch food, etc.)
  • Cooks meals for others without eating
  • Consistently makes excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food
  • Maintains an excessive, rigid exercise regiment – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury
  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities and becomes more isolated, withdrawn and secretive
  • Seems concerned about eating in public
  • Has limited social spontaneity
  • Resists maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height
  • Has intense fear of weight gain
  • Has a distorted image is his or her body
  • Menstrual periods cease in women and post-pubescent girls
  • Has strong need for control
  • Shows inflexible thinking

Bulimia Nervosa:

  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicate that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Appears uncomfortable eating around others
  • Develops food rituals
  • Skips meals or takes small portions of food at regular meals
  • Steals or hoards food in strange places
  • Drinks excessive amounts of water
  • Uses excessive amounts of mouth-wash, mints and gum
  • Hides body with baggy clothes
  • Maintains excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Shows unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Has calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting
  • Teeth are discolored, stained
  • Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions
  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities
  • Looks bloated from fluid retention
  • Frequently diets
  • Shows extreme concern with body weight and shape
  • Has secret recurring episodes of binge eating; feels lack of control over ability to stop eating
  • Purges after a binge (e.g., self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting)
  • Body weight is typically within the normal weight range; may be overweight

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is very similar to bulimia. Its distinguishing characteristic is the absence of a compensatory behavior such as purging or abuse of laxatives.

  • Has periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food
  • Engages in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting
  • Hides body with baggy clothes
  • Develops food rituals; plans secret binge-sessions
  • Body weight varies from normal to mild, moderate or severe obesity
  • Sufferer rarely reports satisfaction after a binge; they are more likely to report disgust, shame, guilt and remorse after a binge

Compulsive Overeating

The distinguishing characteristic of Compulsive Overeating is that, unlike Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Overeaters report great temporary satisfaction from eating. They are more likely to “graze” than to plan binges in advance. They are typically moderately to severely overweight. They tend to be addicted to particular food substances such as sugar or white flour vs. all foods. Abstaining from particular substances such as sugar, allows most compulsive overeaters to lose weight and eat moderately. Loss of control is often reported upon the reintroduction of certain food substances.

Additional information about eating disorders can be found on the N.E.D.A. (National Eating Disorders Association) website.


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