Recognizing and Treating Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are generally characterized by people who engage in extreme eating practices. Those who do have an type of eating disorder may either drastically reduce the amount of calories and food they eat or will eat a great deal more than what is considered average. Many eating disorder sufferers will start out by decreasing their overall food consumption until they reach a breaking point that triggers an out-of-control, downward spiral in regards to their eating habits. This disorder should not be compared to a diet as it is actually a compulsion that is dangerous when left untreated, making eating disorders fall under the same category as psychological issues. This is why the quantity of food eaten is not the main problem; it is the underlying issue that negatively impacts the patient’s health.
Eating disorders are broken down into two main types–anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that causes the sufferer to eat less food that what is considered healthy. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder where people will eat food in huge quantities and follow their “binge” by vomiting, fasting for extended periods, exercising excessively, and other purging methods. Currently, there has been one more category added to the list–EDNOS, or Eating Disorders that are Not Otherwise Specified. Examples of these disorders include a binge-eating disorder like bulimia nervosa without the purging.
The most common age range to be most affected by eating disorders is adolescents to young adults. In a few instances, there are disorders that have an onset seen in childhood or even older adulthood. Females make up the majority of eating disorder patients. Most of the time, one of these eating disorders is coupled with another psychiatric disorder–anxiety, depression, or substance abuse. These people are also more likely to suffer from physical ailments like heat conditions and kidney failure that both lead to death.
Thankfully, all eating disorders have the potential to be treated and there are many types of treatments available to address every aspect of one of these disorders. Those who do receive treatment will have the opportunity to explore the root cause of their disorder, which is a crucial part of recovery that allows these people to face their psychological problems. Medical professionals in this area of expertise feel that both the psychological and physical issues should be addressed simultaneously. Usually, doctors will recommend their eating disorder patients begin living a healthier lifestyle by consuming small quantities of fruits and vegetables as well as a small amount of protein. Foods with high levels of zinc are also ideal for stimulating the appetites of bulimics and anorexics.
Parents, especially those of young girls, should keep a careful eye on looking for the symptoms of eating disorders in their children. Many adolescents become focused on their physical appearance and unhappy about their weight; this is normal. But their critical feelings can trigger an eating disorder. If a child does develop one of these disorders, they should seek treatment immediately because unaddressed eating disorders may lead to permanent health problems and even death.