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Dave Waller

This page was medically reviewed by David Waller, (BACP, FDAP), Eating Disorder Programme Lead at Life Works, in October 2021.

Life Works is a world class provider of treatment for eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. With leading practitioners in the industry, such as eating disorder therapists and psychiatrists, our Surrey-based rehab centre is the perfect environment for regaining control of your life and recovering from anorexia.

Learn more about how we treat anorexia at Life Works in London, and how you can get started on your path to healthy, long-term wellbeing with us.

How is anorexia diagnosed?

Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that causes sufferers to develop an overwhelming obsession with being as thin as possible, typically having a fear of gaining weight and a distorted, negative body image.

Guidelines set out by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which Life Works uses to inform all their treatment, says an eating disorder diagnosis is based someone having certain clinical features (or symptoms). These include:

  • Restriction of energy intake resulting in low body weight. This is typically defined as a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 in adults
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Behaviour that interferes with weight gain e.g. self-induced purging or excessive exercise
  • Psychological disturbance, such as a distortion of body image or low self-esteem
  • Denial of seriousness of malnutrition and its impact on physical health
  • Hormonal disturbance, such as amenorrhoea in females and loss of libido and potency in males
  • Physical signs of anorexia such as dry skin, hair loss or bradycardia (slow heart rate)

During a diagnosis for eating disorders, a medical professional will assess your anorexia symptoms using screening questions, and review your family and personal history.

FREE Eating Disorder Assessment

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, reach out to Life Works today for a free eating disorder assessment and begin the road to recovery.


Treatment options for anorexia nervosa

If you are diagnosed for anorexia and need treatment, Life Works’ approach to treatment and position as a leading rehab centre for eating disorders means we are the best place for your recovery.

Suitable for adults with a BMI of 14 and over, our treatment plans look beyond just the issue of food intake and addresses some of the emotional issues that underpin the disorder. We will help you to understand the contributing factors of your illness, develop a healthier relationship with food, acquire effective coping strategies and improve your self-esteem.

Inpatient anorexia treatment

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive treatment type for anorexia. Taking place on a residential basis in Life Works’ Surrey-based Georgian manor house, you’ll spend between 28 and 42 days, or longer if needed, receiving the very best specialist treatment with round the clock care and support from a world-class team.

Inpatient treatment removes you from any potential triggers and distractions related to your eating disorder, placing in an environment specifically designed for recovery from these conditions. During inpatient treatment, you’ll take part in a treatment plan that meets the needs of your condition. Treatments include:

  • 1:1, group and family therapy
  • Practical dietetic techniques
  • Personalised meal plans and meal and post-meal support
  • Psycho-educational groups related to your type of eating disorder
  • Relapse prevention sessions
  • Body image/acceptance groups
  • Wellbeing activities like mindfulness, somatic movement and shiatsu

You’ll also have the chance to talk through your recovery with likeminded people at Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous (ABA) meetings. These supportive sessions give you a chance to share in your journey both during your treatment and when you return to normal life.

Outpatient and day care anorexia treatment

If you’re able to function normally in life, or you don’t require daily, round-the-clock support, outpatient and day care treatment may be a more suitable course of treatment. Depending on your needs and the severity of your condition, as an outpatient you’ll come into Life Works for a set number of days to receive treatment.

Whilst less intensive than an impatient stay, these treatment plans are suitable as a step-down once you have completed a more comprehensive residential stay, or can be used as an entry-point to treatment.

I think just need to include something about the same treatments like therapy, meal plans, supermarket support, still being included in outpatient/day care therapy but are less intensive and push independence.

Anorexia treatment plans

Our expert Woking-based team conduct a wide range of effective treatments that will make up your treatment plan. Common treatments include:

Therapy for anorexia

Therapy allows you to study the underlying causes of your anorexia. People struggling with eating disorders may be fuelled by unhelpful thoughts and/or behaviours that lead to their unhealthy relationship with eating. Therapy looks to overturn this mindset, helping you build coping strategies to deal with triggers and avoid relapses long after your initial treatment.

The best therapies for you will be outlined by Life Works’ experts and delivered on a one-to-one and group basis. Common therapies include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): identify, change and manage the thoughts and beliefs that underpin your eating disorder
  • The Maudsley Model of Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults (MANTRA): tackles the underlying causes of the eating disorder while developing healthy coping mechanisms for overcoming them
  • Cognitive remediation therapy (CRT): attempts to shift away from a rigid mindset, refocusing your thoughts to be more flexible and think bigger

These core therapies can also be supported by a number of other effective therapeutic techniques such as:

  • Art informed therapy
  • Drama and movement therapy
  • Shiatsu
  • Somatic movement
  • Mindfulness
  • Body image/acceptance groups
  • Understanding emotions workshops
  • Relapse prevention groups

Practical dietetic techniques for anorexia

Alongside therapy, we also offer remote sessions with a dietitian. With their help and tailored dietetic techniques, you can gradually increase your exposure to the concepts of healthy eating, diet and nutrition.

Examples include:

  • Personalised meal plans
  • Weekly shopping groups
  • Weekly cooking groups
  • Weekly psycho-educational groups, specific to eating disorders
  • Meal and post-meal support

Helping families during anorexia treatment

Life Works also offer a dedicated eating disorder family programme to everyone in treatment for anorexia. Not only does anorexia have a devastating impact on your own health and wellbeing, but it can also affect those who are closest to you. Family and friends of anorexia sufferers often find it difficult to understand the thought processes and unhealthy behaviours that underpin this disorder, which can lead to intense stress, arguments and other relationship problems.

That’s why we’re committed to involving loved ones throughout the treatment and recovery process. This allows you to improve lines of communication and provide education and support to your family in terms of helping you to navigate this destructive illness.

How to get help for anorexia

If you think that you or someone that you know may be struggling with anorexia, know that effective treatment is available with Life Works. Reaching out to us is a difficult first step, but can set you on a path to long-term wellbeing.

That first step involves a free eating disorder assessment with us. During the assessment, we can talk over the difficulties you’ve been experiencing and outline the services we provide that can help you to overcome them. Use the information below to book your assessment today.

Contact Life Works Today

To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with an eating disorder, and for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to make an enquiry.

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