Prevention Of Eating Disorders
As most eating disorders start in adolescence, parents have the best shot at helping to prevent them from occurring. Fortunately, many things can be done to prevent the development of eating disorders. One prevention approach involves providing education via the Internet and/or in person training to physicians, schools, clergy and sports organizations. By teaching adults to be aware of the most vulnerable individuals and the symptoms, eating disorders can be caught early and treated.
Educating both male and female children about healthy eating and body image is also an important primary prevention task. Health classes in school should teach children about different body types, nutrition, the importance of exercise, recognizing hunger and the dangers of dieting.
Children also need to be taught about critical thinking – how to recognize when media images are unrealistically perfect and to not use those images as comparisons for themselves. Teaching kids strategies to reject peer pressure to succumb to the lure of trying to be thin and perfect might help too.
Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment Of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders take a toll on families, but loved ones can be essential allies in recovery. Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders is an international organization of and for caregivers of eating disorder patients.
F.E.A.S.T. serves families by providing information and mutual support, promoting evidence-based treatment, and advocating for research and education.
Around The Dinner Table is F.E.A.S.T.s online support forum for parents of eating disorder patients from all around the world. It is moderated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
F.E.A.S.T also provides many excellent resources via its website including its well-written Family Guide series. They believe that empowered caregivers are essential to the recovery process.
The organization has over 6,000 members on four continents and is run entirely by volunteers and supported through individual donations. Family members can make donations to support the work of F.E.A.S.T. or can volunteer their time in a myriad of ways.
What You Can Do
- Eat three meals , plus two snacks everyday. It is important to note that exercise increases nutritional needs.
- Practice articulating your anger and asserting your needs in constructive ways.
- Think about what you value in life, thinness aside.
- Remind yourself how the corollaries of eating disorder symptoms undermine performance, both athletic and academic, and health.
- Be careful to not reinforce the importance of thinness with your friends, for your sake and for theirs. People with eating disorders frequently cite encouragement from a friend to lose weight as a salient trigger to their disordered eating. Moreover, friendships that do not place importance on thinness can serve as buffers against cultural pressure to be thin.
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Helpful Information About Eating Disorders
Understanding Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is an unhealthy obsession with food and weight. People with eating disorders eat or avoid eating in extreme ways. At least 8 million people in the U.S. are living with an eating disorder. The overwhelming majority about 90% are female.
These are the 3 main types of eating disorders:
Other eating disorders dont quite fit into any of the above categories and are usually classified as eating disorders not otherwise specified.
Managing eating disorders
Eating disorders can be treated successfully, but the answer isnt as simple as changing eating habits because eating disorders are about much more than food. Therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, is a crucial part of treating and managing eating disorders. Eating the right amount of food and managing an appropriate level of physical activity are also key elements of a treatment plan. Some people may need medications, such as antidepressants, to manage other conditions affecting their eating disorder.
No one-size-fits-all treatment is available for eating disorders. Rather, treatment is specifically tailored to each individual.
Preventing eating disorders
Programs that promote healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle are one prevention method. A better understanding of how societys unrealistic expectations influence body image are can also promote a healthier body image and prevent eating disorders.
Tip : Develop A Balanced Relationship With Food
Even though food itself is not the problem, developing a healthier relationship with it is essential to your recovery. Most people with eating disorders struggle with issues of control when it comes to foodoften fluctuating between strict rules and chaos. The goal is to find a balance.
Let go of rigid eating rules. Strict rules about food and eating fuel eating disorders, so its important to replace them with healthier ones. For example, if you have a rule forbidding all desserts, change it into a less rigid guideline such as, I wont eat dessert every day. You wont gain weight by enjoying an occasional ice cream or cookie.
Dont diet. The more you restrict food, the more likely it is that youll become preoccupied, and even obsessed, with it. So instead of focusing on what you shouldnt eat, focus on nutritious foods that will energize you and make your body strong. Think of food as fuel for your body. Your body knows when the tank is low, so listen to it. Eat when youre truly hungry, then stop when youre full.
Stick to a regular eating schedule. You may be used to skipping meals or fasting for long stretches. But when you starve yourself, food becomes all you think about. To avoid this preoccupation, try to eat every three hours. Plan ahead for meals and snacks, and dont skip!
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Alliance For Eating Disorder Awareness
The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs and activities aimed at outreach, education, and early intervention for all eating disorders.
Founded in October 2000, the Alliance offers educational workshops and presentations, free support groups, advocacy for eating disorders and mental health legislation, a national toll-free phone help line, referrals, support, and mentoring services.
The Alliance also produces a U.S. treatment referral guide and a new interactive referral site . The organization seeks volunteers to join committees, volunteer, and intern. They also accept donations and support for fundraisers.
Podcast: Warning Signs Of Eating Disorders
Parents encourage their children to develop healthy eating habits, but extreme changes in a childs behavior or attitude towards food could be a warning sign of an eating disorder. Learn the warning signs of an eating disorder, and what to do if you suspect a family member or friend has an eating disorder.
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Getting Treatment For An Eating Disorder
While there are a variety of different treatment options available for those struggling with eating disorders, it is important to find the treatment, or combination of treatments, that works best for you.
Effective treatment should address more than just your symptoms and destructive eating habits. It should also address the root causes of the problemthe emotional triggers that lead to disordered eating and your difficulty coping with stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, or other uncomfortable emotions.
Thin Equals Fast Or Does It
The perception of the thin body ideal is also another risk factor for eating disorders among athletes. It is often a misperception among sports teams that being thin, or the right body shape will increase sports performance.
Also, there is frequently the expectation to look a specific way because the athlete is in a particular sport. The wrestlers body has to be below his/her ideal weight class, the dancers or cheerleaders body has to be this preconceived small shape, the gymnasts body has to be , the swimmers body has to be , etc. This can create a distorted body image and disordered eating patterns in the athlete as they strive for perfect unrealistic expectations.
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Is An Eating Disorder Support Group Right For You
If youre in recovery, an eating disorder support group can be a way to connect with others who are similarly healing.
However, for those with active eating disorders, Fenkel says that the style and level of care needed for treatment cannot be accomplished in a group setting.
Its important to meet with a licensed professional in order to know which issue needs to be treated first and how it should be treated, she explains. If an eating disorder isnt properly treated, it can cause severe, potentially fatal side effects and long-term health consequences.
Obesity And Body Mass Index
Elevated body mass, or being at a higher weight, has been shown to predict increases in perceived pressure to be thin, in body dissatisfaction, and in attempted dieting , but not increases in depression . Therefore, individuals at a higher weight may experience pressure to be thin from family or peers, which could result in increased drive for thinness or body dissatisfaction, and increased risk for bulimic symptoms. Increased BMI predicted the onset of bulimic symptoms in several studies , but other studies found no association 1996 Stice & Agras, 1998). Thus, while increased weight is a risk factor for pressure to be thin, body dissatisfaction, and attempted dieting, it may play a more important role in promoting other risk factors for bulimia nervosa than in directly fostering bulimic symptoms.
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Try These Mealtime Tips
Mealtimes can be particularly difficult. You may find the following advice helpful:
- if your child is in treatment, ask their treatment team for advice on how to cope with mealtimes
- try to make meal plans with your child that you both agree to
- agree with the family that none of you will talk about portion sizes, calories or anything else about the meal
- avoid eating low-calorie or diet foods in front of them or having them in the house
- try to keep things lighthearted and positive throughout the meal, even if you do not feel that way on the inside
- if your child tries to get too involved in cooking the meal as a way of controlling it, gently ask them to set the table or wash up instead
- try not to focus too much on them during mealtimes enjoy your own meal and try to make conversation
- a family activity after the meal, such as a game or watching TV, can help distract them from wanting to purge or overexercise
- do not worry if a meal goes badly, and just move on
Organizations In Other English
Beating Eating Disorders was founded in 1989 as the first national charity for people with eating disorders in the United Kingdom. BEAT provides helplines, treatment finders, and online support groups. Individuals can get involved in fundraising, awareness events, and can volunteer for the organization.
The Butterfly Foundation in Australia provides education, treatment, support groups, and a national phone helpline. Individuals can both donate to and volunteer with them.
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre is a Canadian non-profit providing resources on eating disorders and weight preoccupation. They operate a toll-free helpline, have a national directory of treatment providers, and provide education and awareness about eating disorders. They have opportunities for volunteers and also accept donations.
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Other Environmental Risk Factors
Early family theories of the etiology of anorexia nervosa posited dysfunctional family patterns marked by enmeshment and rigidity . Studies have generally found that women with eating disorders display anxious attachment styles and separation distress , greater fears of abandonment, and lack of autonomy in relationships the more insecure the attachment with parents, the greater the disordered eating pathology . Shoebridge and Gowers noted higher rates of near exclusive maternal childcare, severe distress at first separation, high maternal trait anxiety, and later age for sleeping away from home in patients with anorexia nervosa in comparison to controls.
Social Support and Interpersonal Relationships
Women with eating disorders report less successful social adjustment and problematic interpersonal relationships . Problems with social adjustment often persist after recovery .
Participation in Sports and Activities, Professions with Focus on Body Shape and Weight
Rock Recovery Coffee & Conversation For Moms
- Price: $35 per month , sliding scale available
Recent research has also pointed to effects of a mothers eating disorder on children as young as newborns.
This online group helps those experiencing eating disorder recovery, body image issues, and the general stress of motherhood. Led by a licensed professional counselor whos an expert in eating disorder recovery and perinatal mood disorders, this group gives mothers an opportunity to find community and discuss everything from self-care to feeding their families.
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Effects Of Dieting On Psychological Status
Dieting and weight loss have also been identified as precipitants to adverse emotional reactions, including depression, anxiety, and irritability . Myers, Raynor, and Epstein evaluated children’s psychological status, as determined by mothers’ reports on the Child Behavior Checklist , while they participated in a family-based behavioral program. From baseline to 1-year follow-up, participants’ percentage overweight decreased an average of 20%, and during this time, global child psychopathology decreased significantly, while global competence increased. The proportion of children who met clinical criteria for at least one behavior problem decreased from 29% at baseline to 13% at follow-up. Improvements in some aspects of psychological status, including somatic complaints and social competence, were positively associated with weight loss.
Levine and colleagues found significant reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety at the end of treatment that were maintained at 8-month follow-up. Epstein and colleagues observed that total behavior problems and internalizing behavior problems decreased significantly at 18-month follow-up. Twelve percent of participants reported seeking treatment for depression during the decade of the Epstein, Valoski, Wing, & McCurley follow-up, a rate that does not appear high for children who have sought professional weight reduction services . These findings, as a whole, do not indicate that dieting has a negative effect on mood .
Ways To Prevent Eating Disorders
Written by Casa Palmera Staff
Eating disorders and disordered eating are dangerous behaviors that hurt not only a persons health, but their self-esteem and self-worth as well. Its especially heartbreaking when eating disorders manifest at a young agethe overwhelming majority of people who have an eating disorder, more than 90%, are females between ages 12 and 25. That doesnt mean that males cant suffer from an eating disorder in fact, these disorders can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, race, or socioeconomic background. That is why eating disorder prevention is criticalif not treated promptly and properly, these disorders can have devastating effects.
There are signs to look for that could indicate an eating disorder. These include a strict, too-restrictive diet avoiding meals constant talk about being too fat regular use of laxatives avoiding social activities that may involve food often eating large quantities of not-as-healthy foods such as sweets loss of tooth enamel from vomiting eating secretly or consuming more food at one time than is considered normal.
Eating disorders are dangerous, complex disorders that arise from a variety of issues. One of the best ways to prevent or stop eating disorders in yourself and others is to adopt healthy attitudes and behaviors about body shape and weight. Here are eight tips from the National Eating Disorders Association on how to prevent eating disorders.
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Assemble Your Treatment Team
Because eating disorders have serious emotional, medical, and nutritional consequences, its important to have a team of professionals that can address every aspect of your problem. As you search, focus on finding the right fitprofessionals who make you feel comfortable, accepted, and safe.
To find an eating disorder treatment specialist in your area:
- Ask your primary care doctor for a referral.
- Check with your local hospitals or medical centers.
- Ask your school counselor or nurse.
Eating Disorder Prevention Tips
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What You Can Do To Help Prevent Eating Disorders
Learn all you can about anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive overeating. Genuine awareness undermines judgmental or mistaken attitudes about food, body shape, and eating disorders.
Discourage the idea that a particular diet, weight, or body size will automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment.
If you think someone has an eating disorder, express your concerns in a forthright, caring manner. Gently but firmly encourage the person to seek trained professional help.
Basic Principles for the Prevention of Eating Disorders
Every family, group, and community is different in terms of what might contribute to effective primary prevention. Thus, before we offer some specific suggestions for the prevention of eating disorders, we encourage you to consider adopting four principles which are generally applicable to doing prevention work in your family, your community, and your own life.