We Effectively Treat Eating Disorders
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Eating Disorders and Treatment
In a world that glamorizes unrealistic standards and images of lean, athletic, perfectly toned bodies, it’s easy to forget that most of them are the result of excessive airbrushing and some mad Photoshop skills. While the media insists on repeatedly foisting these manipulated images of unattainable perfection on an already-manipulated public, the damage to the psyches and emotional health of people has been going on for years. It’s evidenced by every new diet and fitness craze that guarantees all sorts of improbable results that are as impossible to achieve, as they are to maintain. As a public, we are almost as driven as we are directed to meet these unrealistic expectations in a quest to fit in and look good. We are self-obsessed, self-consumed consumers willing to try almost any meal, shake, supplement or routine to reach an ideal of perfection that does not exist because that idea is purely an invention rooted in marketing and motivated by sales. What are we left with? Low self-esteem, food phobias, screwed up metabolisms, body shaming, and eating disorders.
If it’s not perfectly clear, eating disorders are eating away at Americans at an alarming level and they have serious, life-threatening consequences that threaten physical, emotional, medical and psychological harm. An eating disorder in action is not simply a test of willpower. It is a disease that poses health and medical problems that result from depleted nutrition as well as psychological effects that challenge self-esteem and personal relationships. Left untreated, eating disorders are not only dangerous but are also potentially fatal. They can cause a multitude of medical and physical problems along with serious mental health issues.
Eating disorders affect all ages, ethnicities/races, and backgrounds. Although women and girls are more likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, it affects boys, men and gender non-conforming individuals as well. It can begin at any time in life but typically starts in adolescence or young adulthood. There is no single cause for eating disorders but elements including psychological, biological, and behavioral factors, as well as genetics, and social influences have been shown to contribute to its manifestation. Most experts agree that eating disorders are about coping with painful emotions or overwhelming feelings and that people who feel helpless in their ability to control them deliberately and precisely assume control over something that they do – namely the intake of food.
Signs of an Eating Disorder
Signs or symptoms of eating disorders often include belief that one is ‘fat’; excessive talk about food/diet, weight management, and calories; struggling to maintain a healthy weight; a warped view of one’s body image (preoccupation with every detail and perceiving even the smallest flaw as major or ugly when it is unnoticeable to others); obsessing over clothing size or the number on the scale; restricted eating or refusal to eat for fear of gaining weight; exercising to the point of exhaustion to burn fat and/or get rid of unwanted calories.
Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa
The most lethal of eating disorders is anorexia nervosa, a deadly disease where people deny themselves food to the point of starvation. Those who suffer from anorexia restrict their eating, practice extreme rituals, over-exercise, judge the weight of others, take prescription or over-the-counter medications to reduce hunger, curb appetite and increase metabolism. As the weight continues to drop and the disease accelerates, the obsessive nature of it perpetuates further weight loss that can cause personality changes and mood swings. It is extremely hard on the body (and the teeth and the mind). Left untreated, anorexia increases the chance of death six-fold.
Treatment for Bulimia
Bulimia involves binge eating followed by purging (vomiting) or the taking of laxatives to expel all the food as quickly as possible. It may also include excessive exercise to hasten the ridding of calories. Cyclical in nature, bulimics can eat and purge daily or a few times a week to control weight gain and the feelings of guilt for overindulging. The physical effects of bulimia and anorexia are different but both do tremendous damage to the body. Additionally, some individuals live with both anorexia and bulimia but maintain a weight that is normal (appropriate for their height and body type). This may make diagnosis a little harder as the person who struggles with both eating disorders appears to look normal.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by cycles of eating large portions of food at a single time (as many as 5,000 to 15,000 calories in a single sitting) and feeling shame, disgust or guilt for those actions. These eating events may be preceded by periods of strict dieting and restricted calorie intake that fall to the wayside and result in the feeling of loss of control. Also cyclical in nature, those who suffer from binge eating disorder are more likely to be overweight or obese and struggle with medical issues like diabetes (Type II), heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, among others. There is no purging involved and some who suffer from BED may be of normal weight. Binge eating is often done while alone due to boredom or depression.
What all these eating disorders share in common is the issue of control. The psychological and physical damage that is caused by each of them cannot be overstated. It is not uncommon for those with eating disorders to also suffer from depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse or Dual Diagnosis (also known as co-occurring disorder).
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. They are biologically-influenced medical illnesses.”
The upside is that eating disorders can be treated.
Treatment for eating disorders requires proper diagnoses to facilitate proper treatment. Personal and family therapy along with support groups and nutritional counseling is as important as understanding what triggers are involved in your particular eating disorder and having a healthy approach to eating accompanied by a sensible fitness plan. Therapies that work best are rooted in individual care that uses an integrated model. At 1 Method, we believe there is no “one size fits all model” for treatment of any kind and our approach is to work individually, 1-on-1 to create a program that is unique to your needs and objectives and focuses on YOU.