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(p. 105) Applying Exposure to Different Eating Disorder Problem Areas 

(p. 105) Applying Exposure to Different Eating Disorder Problem Areas

Carolyn Black Becker

, Nicholas R. Farrell

, and Glenn Waller

Page of

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date: 15 January 2021

Patients with eating disorders experience substantial fear of food and eating. Clinicians can use exposure to address the anxiety that underpins that fear. Specific foods are addressed, based on the nature of the fear associated with them. Sometimes patients avoid foods to reduce the fear that they will binge on them, while in other cases those foods are avoided due to the fear that eating them will result in uncontrollable weight gain. Weight status makes a difference here. Extremely low weight patients may need to gain weight before starting exposure, while other low weight patients can use exposure to help them gain weight. Non-underweight patients can use exposure to learn that their weight is not affected as they fear. Fears of specific foods or classes of food can be addressed using exposure, and this is a particularly useful approach when working with some manifestations of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

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