Thursday, April 18, 2024

How To Develop An Eating Disorder

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Why Do So Many People Have Body Image Issues In Adolescence

In addition to the fact that this is a time when most people begin to evaluate their body in relation to others, the teen years are a time of many changes. Not only do teens have to deal with physical changes to their bodies, but they must also navigate new chemical changes in their brain, emotional changes and an increasing workload from school and other activities. There is a reason so many people look back on their teen years and wonder how they got through it all in one piece!

Excessive Use Of Photoshop In Magazines

Though there’s been some debate on whether or not photoshop can be blamed for eating disorder development, it’s obviously not helping with eating disorder prevention, either. The fact that, back in 2011, the American Medical Association released a statement about the connection between the practice of photoshopping models and eating disorder prevention backs this up.

Additionally, according to NEDA, “Numerous correlational and experimental studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal in mass media to body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and disordered eating among women.” When our cultural norm is to photoshop an already thin model to the degree that her head actually appears wider than her waist, it’s really not possible to contest that society’s idealization of “skinny” plays a role in eating disorder development.

#thighgap & Other Social Media #fitspo Challenges

Research suggests that social media in general could be making us miserable. As Teddy Roosevelt once said, comparison really is the thief of joy. That said, it appears that women are conditioned by social media to dislike their appearance more frequently than men are.

As I’m sure you’re well aware unless you avoid all social media like the plague, it seems like there’s always a new social media “fitspo challenge” trending on social media for women to aspire to. Sometimes, these posts can be great motivators to start living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, though, according to recent research, fitspiration posts are often just one more way society influences women to feel bad about their bodies. In turn, this drop in self-esteem could be contributing to the development of eating disorders among women.

In a recent study conducted by Flinders University, 130 women were divided into two groups. One group was shown travel images while the other was shown a variety of fitspiration images. Unsurprisingly, the second group ended up reporting more negative moods and body dissatisfaction afterwards than the first.

Whether it’s a Facebook post of a perfectly toned, healthy woman doing yoga, or it’s various Instagrams of #thighgaps, , or China’s scary #BellyButtonChallenge, it’s evident that social media is just one more way society influences women to develop disordered eating habits.

Why Do Young Adults Develop Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, are complicated, serious and potentially devastating. Theyre caused by a complex combination of factors, including genetic, biochemical, psychological, cultural and environmental. While researchers havent been able to pinpoint the specifics behind these causes, they can identify various factors that make individuals susceptible to eating disorders.

There are many misconceptions in our society about what causes eating disorders. Eating disorders are rarely about food or wanting to be thin. Instead, sufferers use food and unhealthy behaviors like dieting, starving, bingeing and purging to cope with unpleasant and overwhelming emotions and stressful situations. At least in the short term, these behaviors relieve anxiety and stress. Long term, however, they actually increase anxiety and stress and create other serious complications.

Eating disorders are illnesses, not character flaws or choices. Individuals dont choose to have an eating disorder. You also cant tell whether a person has an eating disorder just by looking at their appearance. People with eating disorders can be underweight, normal weight or overweight. Its impossible to diagnose anyone just by looking at them.

While no one thing causes eating disorders, here are some of the factors that may contribute to the problem:




Low self-esteem

Eating Disorder Facts: Who Gets Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders :: Midshipmen Development Center

Natasha Tracy

Eating disorder facts tell us anyone can get an eating disorder, but they are more common among teens and young adults. The explanation for this: when people are young, they are establishing an identity, and trying different behaviors, some of which may include unhealthy eating. Most young people don’t consider it important to learn eating disorder facts, but gaining an understanding of healthy and unhealthy eating can be critical in helping to avoid an eating disorder now or later in life.

Encourage Older Children And Adolescents To Feel Good About Their Bodies

There are lots of ways to help your children feel good about their bodies, including: 

  • Show an acceptance of different body shapes and sizes, including your own. 
  • Make a positive effort to portray your own body as functional and well-designed.
  • Demonstrate healthy eating and engage in physical activity for health and enjoyment.
  • Don’t criticise or tease your children about their appearance.
  • Encourage your children to ‘listen’ to their bodies and to become familiar with different physical feelings and experiences.
  • Encourage sport and regular exercise to help maintain your child’s health and fitness and foster their body confidence.

How We Care For Eating Disorders Patients At Boston Childrens Hospital

Boston Children’s Hospitals Eating Disorders Program takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with eating disorders. We are committed to helping our patients and their families at every step of the treatment process, and we provide recommendations with their specific needs and circumstances in mind.

We provide both inpatient medical and outpatient care. If your child is an outpatient, they will be seen by a physician or nurse practitioner from our Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine as well as a dietitian. Your child may also see a psychologist or social worker.

If your childs vital signs become unstable, they will be admitted to the hospital and treated with guidance from our inpatient clinical pathway. They will meet with medical doctors, behavioral medicine clinicians, and dietitians while participating in a special meal plan with customized goals for gaining weight.

The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.

Realities And Risks Of Eating Disorder Symptoms

For most people, restricting food intake leads to bingeing. In fact, the single best way to avoid bingeing is to eat regularly. When starved, the body shifts into emergency preservation mode: The body processes calories more slowly than usual, which is why many people who diet hit a plateau, and why people who break their restriction often gain weight very quickly, oftentimes more weight than they lost. In addition to slowed metabolism, chronic restriction is associated with impaired concentration, depression, anxiety, and irritability, strange eating habits, preoccupation with food, decreased heart rate, and potentially fatal heart

Laxatives and diuretics do not promote weight loss. They merely deplete the body of water and nutrients; they do not prevent the body from absorbing calories or fat. When the body is dehydrated, it compensates by holding onto water; therefore, ironically, laxative and diuretics often lead to bloating. People also commonly mistake cues of dehydration as cues for hunger, which can lead to unnecessary eating.  Severe dehydration compromises kidney, brain, and heart

Over-exercising is not an effective weight-management strategy. For optimal performance, the body requires a balance of exercise and rest. Only during rest does muscle repair occur. Over-exercising can also lead to slowed metabolism; that is, if the body is exerting more calories that it is being given, it will slow down the processing of calories to maintain energy.

What If I Have An Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder:

Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.

Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.

Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your . Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

How Should I Prepare For A Conversation About My Childs Eating Disorder

Before beginning the conversation, it can be helpful to research the condition thoroughly, as well as read accounts from those in recovery. This way parents can better understand and empathize with their childs experience.

Its valuable to recognize that children with an eating disorder may deny that they have a problem. This occurs for many reasonschildren may struggle with shame and anxiety about the disorder, they may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of having to confront it, and younger children may not fully understand it themselves. Even if this is the case, it is important to begin discussing and confronting the disorder together.

Another line of thinking a child may have is “I’m not sick enough to get better,” in which the child recognizes a problem but doesn’t believe it’s severe enough to merit solving. Perhaps they believe the benefits outweigh the costs, fear what they might lose, can’t imagine a life without their particular relationship to food, or perceive recovery as self-indulgent. In response, parents can encourage small changes and provide perspective on what the child is missing in their current state of being.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating, such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight.

Symptoms include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging
  • Electrolyte imbalance , which can lead to stroke or heart attack

The Family Dynamics Linked To Eating Disorder Development

The five major family dynamics that are associated with eating disorder development are:

  • Low emotional literacy: dont talk about feelings and emotions
  • Conflict avoidance: ignore or avoid difficult conversations, walk on eggshells
  • Poor boundaries: have trouble setting and maintaining clear interpersonal boundaries; the child may over- or under-perform for the sake of the parent
  • Rigid and controlling: parent demands discipline and respect
  • Chaotic: there is little structure and parent has low authority in the home
  • This cannot be overstated: parents are not ever responsible for a childs eating disorder. Its important to note that there are four major factors that appear to contribute to eating disorder development, and family dynamics are just one. Parents are neither responsible for eating disorder development nor in control of recovery. But they can make a significant impact on a childs chances of recovery if they work to improve family dynamics and optimize the healing environment.

    I Need To Feel In Control

    Your Child Is At Risk Of Developing An Eating Disorder If ...

    Eating disorders can also begin when they feel that they want to control their surroundings as much as possible. Restricting food and monitoring weight or body size becomes a way to compensation for the inability to control the other areas of the personâs life. For other people, the desire to eat when they are not really hungry can give them an âout of controlâ feeling, which they then try to control by binging and purging, exercising excessively, or going on unhealthy diets. All of these lay the groundwork for eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. As someone begins going down this path, you may notice them making charts, going through complex rituals involving foods, and spending a lot of time obsessing about food and exercise plans.

    When It Comes To Eating Disorder In Children Under 12 Early Detection And Prevention Are Key Here We Take A Closer Look At The Warning Signs You Should Be Looking Out For

    Article by:Causes and Risks

    Most people think of teenagers or young adults when they think of eating disorders, but they can affect young children as well. The rates of eating disorders among young girls and boys under 12 have been growing in recent years, so it is important for parents and anyone who works with young children to recognize the signs.1 Physical growth is such an important component of childhood, and eating disorders can cause significant damage to a childs body.

    How Family Dynamics Impact Eating Disorder Development

    In our series to help parents understand eating disorders, we take a look at how family dynamics impact eating disorder development. This article is a great companion to the free eBook, What Kids Want Parents to Know About Eating Disorders. Please feel free to get a copy.

    Free eBook

    If you have a child who has an eating disorder, then you have probably been told that eating disorders are complicated. So what does that mean, and why are eating disorders considered so complicated? More importantly, how can parents help? In this four-part series we review the four elements that are linked to eating disorder development. These elements combine to create the complexity of eating disorders. They are:

  • Eating Disorder Diagnosis
  • In this article well untangle the second element, family dynamics. And well take a look at how they impact and shape eating disorders. Well also provide some tips for parents who want to help their child recover. I encourage you to reflect on your own family dynamics and think about how they may have contributed to your childs eating disorder. This is absolutely not coming from a place of blame, but in pursuit of understanding.

    So What Causes An Eating Disorder

    • The shame of having an eating problem
    • The eating disorder is useful- this is a big issue for most people with an active eating problem. Purging can become a way to manage moods or to get through the day.
    • Perhaps I dont deserve to get help / I should be able to crack this on my own.
    • I am not ill enough or, there are people much more worse off than me.

    Why The First Years Away From Home Are A Perfect Storm For Anorexia And Bulimia

    Rae Jacobson

    Eating disorders can and do occur in teenagers, and even in young children. But its during the college years that young people, especially young women, are most at risk for developing them.

    The challenges of college life, adding pressure to underlying mental health issues, create what Dr. Alison Baker calls a perfect storm for these disorders, the most common of which are and .

    The storm occurs when the realities of college lifeincreased workload, less structure, and more focus on peerscollide with , learning issues, or poor . A young woman who was able to manage and stay afloat during high school with a lot of hard work and support from her parents might find herself drowning in the confusing, complicated world of college.

    Eating disorders develop when the need to feel control over a stressful environment is channeled through food restriction, over-exercise, and an unhealthy focus on body weight.

    College can be a time of a lot of excitement and stimulation and also a lot of stress, explains Dr. Baker, a child and adolescent psychopharmacologist. It asks young people who are not yet adults to act in a very adult way, especially if theyre contending with mental illness and suddenly have to begin managing it on their own.

    Related: When to Worry About an Eating Disorder

    Dieting And The Diet Cycle

    Dieting is one of the strongest predictors for the development of an eating disorder. Weight loss and fad diets do not take people’s individual requirements into consideration and can result in a person feeling hungry, experiencing low moods, lacking in energy levels and developing poor mental and physical health.

    The diet cycle explains how many eating disorders can develop and are maintained.


    The dieter limits the amount of food or type of food eaten.


    When food intake is restricted, the body responds both physically and mentally. The metabolism slows down to conserve energy, appetite increases and the craving for the restricted foods increases. At this stage, people may feel deprived, irritable and fatigued.

    Break diet rule:

    The diet rules are almost inevitably broken, with the body wanting and needing the food that has been restricted. Overeating can often follow as dieters think, Ive broken my diet, so I may as well have the lot.


    When breaking the diet rule, people are often left with feelings such as guilt, low self-esteem and negative body image. People may feel that they have failed and that they lack willpower.

    Unhappy with weight or shape:

    With these feelings comes a resolve to do better. People are often led back to the diet or restriction, and the diet cycle begins again.

    How To Prevent Eating Disorders For Parents


    It definitely pays to be informed about eating disorders in order to spot warning signs and seek out the proper treatment. This is especially true for parents of tweens and teens, who may be at an especially sensitive place for eating disorders as their bodies are changing due to puberty, and may also be facing increased peer pressure to have their figures look a certain way. Here are some eating disorder prevention tips for parents to help instill positive body image in their children and help head off eating disorders before they can take root. 


  • Be a role model. Children learn a lot from their parents, even when parents dont realize theyre making a statement. Examine your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors toward your own body. If youre constantly criticizing yourself or others, dieting or engaging in other similar behaviors, your child will learn to do the same. Set a good example for your child by practicing positive, healthy attitudes and behaviors such as sensible eating, exercise and self-acceptance.
  • Mute the media. Children are constantly bombarded with images that portray unrealistic ideals, such as the misperception that having a certain body type is the only way to achieve power, popularity and perfection. Help your child understand that these are distorted images and that the human body should be celebrated in all shapes and sizes.

    Are Certain Personality Traits More Common In Individuals With Eating Disorders

    Individuals who develop eating disorders, especially those with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa are often perfectionistic, eager to please others, sensitive to criticism, and self-doubting. They may have difficulty adapting to change and be routine bound. A smaller group of patients with eating disorders have a more extroverted temperament and are novelty-seeking and impulsive with difficulty maintaining stable relationships. There is no one personality associated with eating disorders, however.

    What Can Be Done If You Cant Treat The Cause

    8 ways to develop an eating disorder

    Eating disorder treatment is not about finding the cause. They are also not about getting rid of symptoms like purging. It is holistic; physical, emotional and nutritional and above all designed to make someone happier, confident ,able to manage feelings,  have better relationships and find meaning and purpose in life. A person who is healed from their eating disorder will have a grounded self-worth that is not dependent on being a perfect body size but the or she will be able to take care of themselves with food because they are deserving. This is a big ask but it is do-able by someone who is properly trained. The ideal treatment of an eating disorder looks forwards not back . It includes teaching a vast array of new skills as well as doing psychological work using powerful change techniques such as EFT or Neuro-linguistic Programming as well as traditional Expanded Cognitive and counselling therapies.  Some understanding of childhood experiences is useful to start with and if there is trauma it must be healed with approaches that do not involve painful story telling.  A trusting and sound relationship between the sufferer and therapist is perhaps the most important thing of all since change will always involve resistance from time to time, as the eating disorder loosens its hold.

    At NCFED we help people to thrive, not just survive.

    Dieting Increases The Risk Of Developing Eating Disorders

    Dieting is common among adolescents and normalised by society, but it is not a healthy behaviour and should not be considered a normal part of being an adolescent. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa can be triggered by dieting. A person who crash diets , substantially increases their risk of developing an eating disorder. Adolescents should not be encouraged to go on a diet.

    Risk Factors For Specific Eating Disorders

    Risk factor research focuses on identifying traits or experiences that precede the development of a specific disorder . For a risk factor to be shown as a causal factor, the risk factor must be shown to come before the development of the eating disorder. It also must be capable of being manipulated to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. For example, smoking is a causal risk factor for lung cancer; it comes before the development of the disease, and not smoking reduces ones risk of developing lung cancer.

    Because eating disorders are relatively rare and diverse disorders, it is difficult and expensive to perform the kinds of large and long-term studies needed to better assess risk factors.

    To date, there is limited risk factor research that has successfully demonstrated causality, but a 2015 research study found these causal risk factors for eating disorders.

    How Do I Find A Treatment Center Or Therapist

    Find a treatment center or an eating disorder specialist who takes your insurance in the Psychology Today Therapy Directory. Referrals from doctors or friends can also be helpful in this process.

    Parents will want to research a clinic or therapist beforehand. It can be helpful to ask questions about credentials, experience, past patient outcomes, treatment strategies, how progress is measured, and insurance plans and payment options.

    The Most Common Eating Disorders

    • Anorexia Nervosa  Individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight, no matter how skinny they might actually be. For this reason, they severely restrict their caloric intake to the point that it is dangerous. 
    • Bulimia Nervosa  Those who struggle with bulimia are often of normal weight, so it can be harder to identify these individuals. They binge eat large quantities of food and then purge by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or even exercise.
    • Binge Eating  This eating disorder involves eating excessively large quantities of food at one time. Due to such a large caloric intake, these individuals are typically overweight and obese to the point where they are experiencing health issues as a result.
    • Pica Individuals who struggle with pica have an addiction to eating items that arent actually food. This can lead to very serious medical problems. 
    • Rumination Disorder This involves individuals regurgitating the food they have already swallowed. They either chew it again and swallow it, or spit it out. This can lead to malnourishment.
    • Purging  Individuals who purge typically consume a normal diet, however, in an effort to maintain their weight, they purge using laxatives, diuretics, or even vomiting.  

    Eating disorders are dangerous if left untreated. They can lead to serious health issues and even death. It is important to understand the factors that play a role in the development of eating disorders.  

    The Link To Eating Disorders

    Numerous clinical studies have found a connection between childhood adverse experiences and eating disorders. People who have eating disorders have ahigher rate of childhood traumacompared to the general population.

    Childhood trauma, specifically physical abuse, is most strongly linked to bulimia and binge eating disorder. Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders linked to adverse childhood events.

    For example, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, substance use disorders, and clinical behaviors such as suicidal behavior, impulsivity, and aggressiveness are all associated with both trauma and eating disorders.

    Sexual trauma seems to be particularly linked to eating disorders.One studyfound that women who have a history of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to have problematic eating behaviors and eating disorders.

    Experts have suggested that people who have adverse childhood experiences may develop eating disorders as a way to cope with their trauma. Eating disorders can be powerful self-soothing and coping mechanisms.

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