Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupts normal body function, and daily life activities. A person with anorexia nervosa typically starves him or herself to be thin and experiences excessive weight loss, typically 15% below the weight that doctors consider ideal for his or her height and age. In some cases of anorexia, in addition to restricting their food intake kids use purging – by vomiting or taking laxatives – to control their weight.
Causes of Eating Disorders
What causes eating disorders is not entirely clear, though a combination of psychological, genetic, social and family factors are thought to contribute to the disorder.
Certain sports, such as ballet, gymnastics and wrestling are thought to potentially contribute to developing eating disorders because of the emphasis on leanness. There is also a role for genetics. Individuals who have a close relative with an eating disorder have an increased risk for also developing an eating disorder..
Sometimes, problems at home, such as drug or alcohol abuse, can put a child at higher risk to develop disordered eating behaviors.
And this concern can begin at an alarmingly young age. Research shows that 42% of first to third-grade girls wants to be thinner, and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
Types of eating disorders
The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
· Anorexia – People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe they’re thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
· Bulimia – Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise, fast, or take laxatives.
· Binges Eating Disorder – People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.
Alternative Treatment for Eating Disorders
There are many treatment options for eating disorders. The right approach for each individual depends on his or her specific symptoms, issues, and strengths, as well as the severity of the disorder. To be most effective, treatment for an eating disorder must address both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem. The goal is to treat any medical or nutritional needs, promote a healthy relationship with food, and teach constructive ways to cope with life and its challenges Psychotherapy – Individual and group therapy can help your loved one explore the issues underlying the eating disorder, improve self-esteem, and learn healthy ways of responding to stress and emotional pain. Family therapy is also effective for dealing with the impact the eating disorder has on the entire family unit.
· Nutritional counseling – Dieticians or nutritionists are often involved in the treatment of eating disorders. They can help your loved one design meal plans, set dietary goals, and achieve a healthy weight. Nutritional counseling may also involve education about basic nutrition and the health consequences of eating disorders.
· Support groups – Attending an eating disorder support group can help your loved one feel less alone and ashamed. Run by peers rather than professionals, support groups provide a safe environment to share experiences, advice, encouragement, and coping strategies.
· Residential treatment –- Residential or hospital-based care may be required when there are severe physical or behavioral problems, such as a resistance to treatment, medical issues that require a doctor’s supervision, or continuing weight loss.