There was something wrong with my sister. I could feel it, but I just didn’t know what it was yet. So, when classes were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was forced to stay with me since dorms were also on lockdown. That’s when I saw the problem. My sister has an eating disorder. She was suffering from bulimia nervosa. This disorder is dangerous, and it can be fatal if not appropriately addressed. I don’t want her to die, and as any sister would do, I intervened and helped her in the best way I could.
Experts gathered together in the 2019 Eating Disorder Conference held at Drumlins, Syracuse New York last October. The conference featured various topics that gave its audience a better understanding of eating disorders and how to deal with it appropriately. But why would you want to pay for the registration and attend an entire day of lectures? Here are three reasons why:
1. Various Topics Discussed By Experts
Conferences invite people who are experts in the field to share their knowledge. Often, these experts discuss topics that are products of years of their hard work—listening to what their lectures would impart valuable information in a few minutes. Experts might touch on issues that deal with your condition or experience. If you have questions, these experts are the best people to answer them.
2. You Will Be Amongst Your Peers
Do not feel intimidated by conferences. Instead, be comforted by the thought that your peers surround you. Attendees of conferences share the same interests. They could be experts, part of the academe, students, and merely curious people. Learning like this does not only occur in lectures. You could discover new things and understand your condition better by conversing with others and sharing your story.
3. Conferences Open New Opportunities
Participants in conferences may come from different fields in your topic of interest. The event would allow you to socialize with them while learning new things. It will enable you to explore further possibilities and maybe point you to a direction you have been uncertain of. You may discover new areas of study, an opportunity for research, or meet someone who shares the same experiences.
Conferences gather people to learn together. It is a chance to share your views, experiences, and learnings over the years. Having an eating disorder may be challenging to deal with alone, but attending conferences would make you realize that there is a community that supports you. No matter what your purpose in attending a conference is, it is for sure that upon leaving the venue, you will always bring home new knowledge with you, and that could never be a bad thing.
I am a former binge eater. I was diagnosed with this eating disorder at 15 years old. I used to be able to down three 2-L bottles of root beer and five party-sized pizzas in one sitting.
My parents thought at first that I was just too hungry after coming home from softball practice. However, they put their feet down when they realized that I was eating the same amount of food even on days when I had nothing to do. That was when they took me to a child psychologist, and we all found out that I had a binge-eating disorder.
At the time, I held my ground and insisted that I was unaware of the issue. All I said was, “I love food. Perhaps I couldn’t control my love for food.” But deep down, I had suspicions that my binge-eating habits stemmed from stress. It was the early 90s, after all, and everyone had a specific picture in mind of what a cool kid looked like. There was no way for me to be seen in that manner, so I ate my feelings (literally).
Now that I am no longer a binge eater, though, I help binge-eating kids to get over it. I facilitate group therapy for them during the weekend, and it is apparent how their social interaction works in their favor.
Unfortunately, all group activities have stopped since the state governor has asked everyone to avoid leaving the house. The coronavirus is still wreaking havoc all over the world, and the lockdown is the safest preventative measure.
I can still meet the kids but only via Zoom or Skype. We cannot hang out anymore, as we have typically done before. It saddens me as much as the children, but I think the lockdown is suitable for young binge eaters.
You Cannot Sneak Out To Pig Out
When I was trying to overcome the binge-eating disorder, I was not the most effortless child to rehabilitate. My desire to overeat was too intense, to the extent that I would pretend to go to my friend’s house to hang out. The truth, however, was that I would walk to the nearest McDonald’s and buy as many burgers as possible.
Thanks to the lockdown, the young binge eaters cannot follow my previous example. No child below the age of 18 is supposed to be seen out of their house, so no one can sneak out. Hence, they need to make do with what’s in the pantry.
Your Parents Can Watch What You Eat
The ultimate challenge for the parents is to make the binge-eating child’s relationship with food healthy again. It is not enough to order the kids to go on a diet because it can trigger their rebellious side. Hurt feelings can pave the way for other eating disorders, you know.
One vital thing you can do is to watch what your child eats. Reduce the number of servings they can get little by little, and explain this plan very well. This technique may not work if they feel like you are working behind their back.
There Are Many Indoor Activities To Keep Your Mind Off Excessive Eating
The lockdown is also ideal for kids who want to curb their binge-eating habits because you can try many indoor activities with the family. For instance, you may do a reading relay, build a massive puzzle, or paint a specific object and see who has recreated it best.
If you notice, such activities are not too physically strenuous. The reason is that exhaustion can make anyone hungry. Your goal is to get distracted from hunger pangs, not to end up entertaining it.
I wish I can say that binge-eating disorder is less challenging to beat than other eating disorders. It has taken me five years to see put my spoon and fork down when I am full. Despite that, the rehabilitation may speed up due to the lockdown, considering you don’t have sources of temptation everywhere.
The Type of Eating Disorder Conference 2019 cultivates the continued development and training for future eating disorder clinicians and researchers. It aims to spark more in-depth discussion and reflection on the subject of eating disorders in the next generation. Information regarding eating disorders is essential as identifying early symptoms can lead to early treatment—especially when dealing with children who may not be able to express their emotions directly.
Eating disorders in children present differently in the cases of older adults. Therefore, parents have to remain vigilant and observe unusual behaviors in their children’s eating habits. Eating disorders can have significant harm to physical health and growth, so how can we identify the signs of eating disorders in children?
Avoidance Of Eating Meals With Family Members
Family meals support healthy eating habits in children. However, children experiencing the difficulties of living with an eating disorder may avoid it regularly. They may insist on having already eaten with their friends or feeling full all the time. Signs that parents have to take note of also are their children’s excessive concern about meal preparation, repeatedly reading food labels and fixation with portion sizes.
Missing Food In Your Home
Children with bulimia or binge eating disorder perform their binging when no one is around due to feeling shameful or guilt. They may hide food in their rooms and consume it quickly. Parents may not recognize the cause of their child’s weight gain immediately. Other signs may include vomiting after eating, usage of laxatives, or excessive bowel movements.
Children Being Hyperactive Or Feelings Of Restlessness
Parents may recognize hyperactivity in their children as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Syndrome (ADHD). But this is also one of the signs of eating disorders developing in kids. It may not come in the form of exercising, like in older adults. They may do excessive moving without a specific goal. Parents may introduce yoga to their children, which is a type of fitness that can also boost their self-esteem.
Extreme Worry On Their Appearance
When children fret too much about their physical appearance or weight themselves extensively, these habits can be early signs of eating disorders. Children who have eating disorders have issues with their self-esteem and become very self-conscious. They may avoid social interaction or wear baggy clothes to hide their body to other people. Children may also feel irritable or withdrawn.
My sister dragged me to the 2017 Eating Disorder Conference, and it was a turning point in my life. She is an eating disorder specialist, and I wanted to be a therapist, as well. I just did not know what field I wanted to be in at that time, and so she booked me a spot in their conference. She did it not just because she knows I wanted a career in this field. My sister knows that one of my best friends is struggling with bulimia and that I feel so helpless about it.
The 2018 Sedona Health and Nutrition Conference was held for health care providers to discuss and identify general and specific approaches to the incorporation of nutritional intervention in medical practice. The conference aims to recognize the links between dietary choices and illnesses, such as eating disorders.
In the case of the less recognized and understood eating disorder such as Pica, an individual or his family may not know the behavior as a disorder. As it is not motivated by the desire to change one’s appearance, it is considered a feeding disorder more than a classic eating disorder. Pica is especially challenging to detect as the person may be aware and worried about their eating patterns but may be embarrassed to seek help. The first step to overcoming Pica is to understand the condition and the available treatment options.
What is Pica?
Pica is a compulsive feeding disorder that causes people to eat non-food items that do not contain a significant nutritional value for at least one month. These non-food items and substances ingested may vary with age and availability, but they are usually:
- Dirt and sand
- Paint chips
- Cigarette butt
It can affect children, adolescents, adults of any genders, as well as pregnant people. Pica often occurs alongside mental health disorders. It is associated with impaired functioning, such as schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, excoriation disorder, and hair-pulling disorder.
Treatment of Pica
The diagnosis for Pica is usually made from the clinical history of the patient. Hence, the patient needs to be honest with their doctor about the substances that they eat.
The first line of treatment for people diagnosed with Pica is to correct any mineral or nutritional deficiencies caused by the disorder. Surgery may also be performed to remove substances from the patient’s digestive tract or to treat other injuries caused by the digestion of non-food items. The doctor may refer the patient for psychological evaluation and behavioral interventions.
After the results, the patient may be prescribed with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. These treatments will help the patient develop coping skills and strategies to deal with the impulses of eating non-food items. Along with these treatments, the awareness of and support by their loved ones can help set off a Pica patient towards healing.
Have you stopped working out excessively or fasting for days?
That’s a great thing! It entails that you are in the process of recovering from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder. Extreme dieting and exercising are a couple of indications that you have this illness, as you perhaps already know. The fact that you managed to let go of the reins can only mean that you’re ready to make peace with your body.
Eating disorders in people at higher weights are commonly misdiagnosed, leading to delayed treatment and more dire prognoses. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
The problem is, your willingness to cull the symptoms of anorexia may not suffice to ensure that the illness won’t creep back in your life. It may not happen after a few months, but future circumstances can push you to go down that rocky road again if you have an unstable anchor.
So, find out the tips on how to avoid anorexia relapse from psychiatry experts below.
Identify The Causes
As the person who experiences the eating disorder, you surely know the reason(s) why you acquired anorexia at the back of your mind. It isn’t the time to feign ignorance about the subject since it’s never easy to fight any disease when you don’t know what you’re facing.
In case it feels hard to divulge the causes even to your family or a mental health professional, you can start enumerating them on your own. Write your reasons down so that you won’t forget what pulled you towards the dark path in the first place. Then, you can prevent them next time.
Misconceptions about anorexia abound. One of these is that anorexia happens almost exclusively to women and girls. — Tom Wooldridge, PsyD, ABPP, CEDS
Stop Minding Criticisms
Anorexia and various eating disorders originate mostly from the truth that you allow negative comments to get to you. Someone says you have chubby arms even if you’re size 6, for instance, and you see that as a reason to be in the gym for hours every day. Or, when others talk about how your regular meals make your cheeks full, it may have an adverse impact on your mental state too.
What psychiatrist experts suggest to avoid going through that phase again is to block off criticisms entirely. Don’t pay attention to acquaintances or relatives who think you look better when super skinny. Limit the time you dedicate to browsing social media as well so that you lessen your chances of being lured to read mean messages.
Talk To Your Loved Ones
The most stable anchors you will ever find are within your inner circle. They can be your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friends. Only, you need to have the courage to voice out your woes to them. That way, they’ll have an idea of how to help you stay in recovery mode.
Lead A Healthy Life
The best solution to anorexia, of course, is living healthily. You can work out and maintain a diet plan, yet make sure that everything stays in moderation. If you exert physical effort without eating anything even just once, then your system will go out of whack.
Besides the stuff mentioned above, the ultimate secret to avoiding anorexia relapse is tosee the beauty of life. Doesn’t it feelincredible to be able to do things without worrying about what others will think of you? It’s also great to try new dishes and relax your mind and body without needing to weigh yourself in often.
As I know personally and professionally, the symptoms may be similar but the causality is unique to each individual. — Lauren Grunebaum L.C.S.W.
You ideally know these by now, so it’s merely a matter of ensuring you remember that you don’t forget them to avoid anorexia relapse. Good luck!
Eating Disorder. Do you love to eat? Do you know what counts as an eating disorder? How does an eating disorder develop? Can eating disorders disturb personality traits? Are eating disorders treatable? An eating disorder enables individuals to take drastic measures to conform to their idea of beauty. In the case of anorexia, patients may work out till their system drops and not take certain foods or non-food substances for as long as possible. With binging, on the other hand, the person chows down various meals in one sitting as if somebody will clear them away at any time.
However, regardless of the type of eating disorder, health consequences harm the patient’s mind and body. It isn’t unlikely to develop an ulcer and various health conditions due to these mental health disorders. So, It’ll be incredible if you can talk a loved one out of their eating behaviors.
If I asked you to picture someone with an eating disorder, what comes to mind? — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C
Eating disorders are serious. The term eating disorder is a group of conditions that involve either excessive overeating (binge eating disorder) or inadequate amount of food eaten, extreme concerns about body weight or shape, or a combination of these behaviors. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
People with anorexia nervosa have severe restrictive food intake disorder. They limit their calories, skip meals and avoid healthy eating, which leads to significant weight loss. People with bulimia nervosa alternate with compensatory behaviors such as forced vomiting, abusing laxatives, or exercising excessively.
Efforts to reduce your weight, to the point of becoming dangerously underweight, can cause severe health problems, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.
Other eating disorder symptoms or medical complications include pica (eating non-food items), brittle hair, weak tooth enamel, obsessive focus on eating, rumination disorder (repeatedly regurgitating food), and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) which is an eating or feeding disorder that is characterized by a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional value and/or energy needs.
People are developing eating disorders as a result of numerous factors, including genetic predisposition, culture, family relationships, and personal history of dieting. They develop an avoidant restrictive food intake due to intense fear of weight gain.
How Can Counseling Help With Eating Disorder?
Professional counseling can come in on cases of eating disorders when he or she is fully ready. It matters to encourage people with food issues and different cultural practices to get better, even at home. Your support and motivation could affect people with eating disorders. Below are several hints on how to encourage people with eating disorders:
Many people who don’t “look like they have problematic eating habits” based on their weight, gender, or skin color are not identified as having an eating disorder by medical professionals. — Alexis Conason
What Is More To Eating Disorder:
What Does Eating Disorder Do To A Person?
Feeding disorders may stay unsolvable for as long as possible if you have no idea about what it is and what eating disorders do to someone. You may even do something inappropriate by assuming that drastic moves will push them toward a recovery path.
Therefore, our advice is to learn about every problematic eating habit known to man. It will be especially helpful if your problematic eating behaviors remain a mystery. Volumes of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association are excellent sources of such information. You can also learn more about these problematic night-eating syndrome habits from blogs and health-related websites.
Eating disorders are mental illnesses that involve the sufferer having a distorted body mass index and an unhealthy obsession with food, normal weight, and body shape. They’re different from picky eating. Common eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Pica, and Rumination Disorder.
Higher risk factors for eating disorders include low self-esteem, a history of dieting, a fear of gaining weight, mental health illness, and an excessive need to exercise. Individuals in early adulthood, young adulthood, or even early childhood are particularly at increased risk of developing an eating disorder due to society’s expectations of physical appearance.
Physical Signs And Interventions For People With Eating Disorders
With some knowledge, you may now acquire the patient’s perception. In particular, ask him or her how they feel about themselves. Do they feel satisfied with their appearance? Are they happy whenever they see their reflection in the mirror? Negative answers, of course, indicate that there’s something wrong. But you also need to consider that they may lie about being alright to lessen your worries. Thus, it’s vital to read their actions and realize the symptoms of the problem or warning signs to understand what they’re going through.
Eating disorders can have serious physical and psychological symptoms. People with disordered eating often experience low blood pressure, abdominal pain, severe dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances. Unlike anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating and purging disorder (inducing vomiting or abusing laxatives). People with bulimia nervosa often have an intense fear of gaining weight, although they may be at a healthy weight or even slightly overweight. There are also other neurobiological factors at play tied to emotional reactivity and impulsivity that could lead to binging and purging behaviors.
Watch Your Words
It can get frustrating to make your loved ones notice that they are beautiful as is, yet that doesn’t give you the freedom to be insensitive. Spewing harsh statements won’t help people with their disorders get better. Words like ‘fat’ or ‘heavyweight’ will hit the patient like solid rocks and force them to work on their weight harder than ever.
If your goal is to enable them to overcome eating disorders, you should be more careful with your words. Always think before you utter anything, mainly if it’s about body image. It may prevent weight gain.
Criticize No One’s Figure To Prevent Them From Resorting To Tube Feeding Of Cynical Ideas.
Sometimes attitudes and behaviors emerge in response to the overwhelming despair and hopelessness that accompanies watching a loved one starving herself/himself. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
Cheer Them Up
Problematic eating behavior is just as challenging as any other ailment. Patients with problematic eating patterns may want to get rid of their bad habits, too – it’s just that they feel as if they’re alone in this battle. For that reason, always give them a boost of confidence.
Final Thoughts: In A Nutshell
Seek treatment early. Compliment single treatment options for problematic eating habits. Don’t stop telling the individual as well that they are more than enough. Although they may not initially believe it, your constant reminders can hopefully make a significant difference soon and convince them to lose weight.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Qualifies As A Problematic Eating Habit?
- What Are Five Signs That Someone May Have Problematic Eating Habits?
- What Are The Names Of Eating Disorders?
- What Are The Most Serious Problematic Eating Habits?
- What Is Depressed Eating Called?
- Who Is Most Likely To Have Problematic Eating Habits?
- What Does Diabulimia Mean?
- How much is a binge eater?
- What triggers a binge?
- How many calories is overeating?
- What are three things you would ask someone who has an eating disorder?
- What to say to someone who opens up about an eating disorder?
- Why should we talk about eating disorders?
- How do you comfort someone who can’t eat?
- How do you act around people with eating disorders?
How do you feel about your body today?
Your chances of developing an eating disorder increase from the moment you think you don’t look good enough. You may overeat a couple of times, and then avoid eating entirely for the rest of the week. Or, if you do consume regular meals, it’s also possible to force yourself to push the food back out afterward.
What is shame? And, why is it so impactful in the life of a person with an eating disorder? — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
It’s truly saddening to know that a lot of men and women go through this condition because they feel as if their weight makes them laughable. The folks around them, in reality, may contribute to such negative notions as well instead of alleviating them.
In case you’re ready to overcome your eating disorder, though, consider getting group therapy.
You Can Meet People With Same Issues In The Past Or Present
The primary advantage of signing up for group counseling is that you will never feel as if you’re the only person facing this problem. It’s possible to come across others who deal with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. Despite the different names, causes,and symptoms, the fact that you all developed the disorder because of self-image issues is real.
Now, when you go to a group therapy session, you’ll notice that the individuals there are in various stages of regaining their life. Some may just be as troubled as you are, while others are already halfway through the process. Even the ones who recovered from the illness may still be there to share their healing stories.
Motivating each other to get past the eating disorder, therefore, won’t be very difficult.
For those in the eating disorder community, it is an exciting time as progress is being observed. — Greta Gleissner LCSW
You Have A Strong Support System
Eating disorders, just like any mental health disease, can be too shameful to talk about in front of your loved ones. There’s always the fear of being rejected or disowned once the truth comes out. Thus, some patients tend to hide – and worsen – the problem.
You can expect the opposite, however, if you receive counseling. Especially when you obtain it with a few individuals, you can instantly feel the others’ belief in your capability to overcome the eating disorder. They will also cheer you on unconditionally and give you the confidence to face your fears. You may even acquire life-long friends from that cluster.
Eating disorder treatment involves a variety of tools and strategies for helping clients to reclaim their lives. However, one important element is helping them to learn how to identify, process, and cope with their emotions in ways that align with their life values. — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C
You’ll Feel Safe There
Last but not the least, getting group therapy entails that you will be in an environment where judgments are scarce.
Counseling sessions don’t aim for you to feel like everything is going well and that you aren’t battling issues within yourself from the get-go. They want you to accept that you experience the latter so that they can start helping you to feel the former. After all, that’s the first step to recovery.
The days when it seems awkward to talk about your situation in front of other people won’t last long. You’re ideally around patients with similar dilemmas as you, so you won’t feel judged before you speak.For sure, it is significantly different from being in the outside world where even strangers may assume that it’s OK to depreciate your problems or pull you down further.
Patients with eating disorders experience many conflicting and competing emotions. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
In a world where everyone is still trying to fight discrimination, it is heart-warming to know that you do not mind being with someone who has anorexia nervosa. If it is in a different scenario, the person with an eating disorder – or any disease, for that matter – may find the love quest impossible to conquer. However, you can now say that everything is indeed fair when it comes to relationships and war.
Despite the general openness, you cannot be too careless with many stuff, especially regarding word choices. The last thing you want is to trigger the condition or hurt your special someone’s feelings. Here are further things to remember if you wish to start a relationship with an anorexic.