Natural treatment of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have made headlines in recent years as celebrities have confessed to suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or sometimes even both. These conditions are medical illnesses that require treatment. Without, other health problems may develop, and consequences may be fatal. 

The causes of eating disorders are not known, bur society's attitudes toward appearance and family factors are thought to contribute, creating an obsession with thinness and an intense fear of being fat. Girls and women are ten times more likely than boys and men to suffer from an eating disorder, al though the number of boys diagnosed is on the increase. It usually begins during the teenage or early adult years, bur can occur later. Body-building, wrestling, dancing, swimming, gymnastics and other athletics may demand a low body weight, encouraging the development of eating disorders. Low self-esteem and depression may be contributing factors. Eating disorders may be triggered by traumatic events such as a death or relationship break-up.


Weight-control through anorexia may also give young girls a feeling of control that may be missing elsewhere in their lives.

We all overeat from time to time–taking an extra helping at Thanksgiving dinner or having dessert when you're already full. But for binge eaters, overeating is regular and uncontrollable. You use food to cope with stress and other negative emotins, even though afterwards you feel even worse. You may feel like you're stuck in a vicious cycle, but binge eating disorder is treatable. With the right help and support, you can learn to control your eating and develop a healthy relationship with food.

Are you anorexic?

·         Do you feel fat even though people tell you you’re not?

·         Are you terrified of gaining weight?

·         Do you lie about how much you eat or hide your eating habits from others?

·         Are your friends or family concerned about your weight loss, eating habits, or appearance?

·         Do you diet, compulsively exercise, or purge when you’re feeling overwhelmed or bad about yourself?

·         Do you feel powerful or in control when you go without food, over-exercise, or purge?

         Do you base your self-worth on your weight or body size? 

Unless society's positive view of thinness changes, preventing eating disorders remains a difficult task. However, by recognizing the symptoms and getting early treatment, possible complications of anorexia and bulimia can be prevented. Those complications include loss of enamel from teeth, serious heart conditions, kidney failure and suicide.

 • ANOREXIA NERVOSA People with this disorder may literally starve themselves to thinness, as they fear they will get fat. About a third were overweight before dieting, but then cannot stop their efforts to lose weight. They mispercieve themselves as overweight, despite their extreme thinness. They eat less and less, while exercising more and more. Despite their dieting efforts, they are often preoccupied with food. Females often lose so much weight that their menstrual cycles are affected and they miss periods. The genitals of males may shrink back to pre-puberty size. Patients will weigh less than 15 percent of the normal weight for their height. Symptoms include cessation of menstrual periods, thinning of the bones, brittle hair nails, dry skin, anaemia, wasting of the muscles (including the heart muscle), severe constipation, low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse rates, feeling cold all the time, depression and lethargy.

• BULIMIA Rather than dieting to the point of starvation, people who suffer from bulimia get caught up in a cycle of 'binge and purge'. They eat huge amounts of food while feeling a loss of control, followed by intense guilt or self- disgust. In an effort to compensate, they then vomit, use laxatives, or excessive exercise - behaviours to rid the body of the excess calories. Like those with anorexia, they have an obsessive fear of gaining weight and want to lose because of unhappiness with their appearance. It is most common in women who were overweight as children.

Symptoms include a constantly inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, puffy checks and face, erosion of tooth enamel from stomach acid, intestinal problems, CORD , kidney problems, and severe dehydration. Laxative abuse may damage bowel muscles, making bowel movements impossible without laxatives.


• BINGE-EATING This disorder has not been approved as a formal diagnosis, although mounting evidence suggests it is a discrete diagnosis. It is basically what the name says: bingeing, or consuming huge quantities of food, while feeling unable to stop. A 'binge' is followed by feelings of shame and disgust. There is no purging, so sufferers usually gain weight. As many as 30 percent of those who attend weight control programmers are thought to have this disorder. 

People with anorexia will lose weight to the point of becoming dangerously thin. Those with bulimia often maintain a normal weight. Binge-eaters may even be overweight. Some people suffer from a mixture of eating disorders, or develop bulimia after having anorexia for several years. Other conditions that may be present include substance abuse , depression  and anxiery disorders.


A diagnosis is made after a clinical and behavioural assessment. Tests may be done to check for damage from weight loss or purging, including urine and blood tests, thyroid function and ECG. 

Anorexic food behavior signs and symptoms

·         Dieting despite being thin – Following a severely restricted diet. Eating only certain low-calorie foods. Banning “bad” foods such as carbohydrates and fats.

·         Obsession with calories, fat grams, and nutrition – Reading food labels, measuring and weighing portions, keeping a food diary, reading diet books.

·         Pretending to eat or lying about eating – Hiding, playing with, or throwing away food to avoid eating. Making excuses to get out of meals (“I had a huge lunch” or “My stomach isn’t feeling good.”).

·         Preoccupation with food – Constantly thinking about food. Cooking for others, collecting recipes, reading food magazines, or making meal plans while eating very little.

·         Strange or secretive food rituals – Refusing to eat around others or in public places. Eating in rigid, ritualistic ways (e.g. cutting food “just so”, chewing food and spitting it out, using a specific plate).

Major risk factors for anorexia nervosa

·         Body dissatisfaction

·         Strict dieting

·         Low self-esteem

·         Difficulty expressing feelings

·         Perfectionism

·         Troubled family relationships

·         History of physical or sexual abuse


·         Family history of eating disorders

Signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder

People with binge eating disorder are embarrassed and ashamed of their eating habits, so they often try to hide their symptoms and eat in secret. Many binge eaters are overweight or obese, but some are of normal weight.

·         Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating

·         Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating

·         Rapidly eating large amounts of food

·         Eating even when you’re full

·         Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret

·         Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone

·         Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes

·         Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating

·         Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating

·         Embarrassment over how much you’re eating

·         Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot.

·         Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat

·         Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating


·         Desperation to control weight and eating habits

Eating disorders often require a combination of treatments. In anorexia, it is critical to restore a healthy weight, and in severe cases, hospitalization may be needed to prevent death. The earlier treatment is started, the greater its chances for success.

• HOSPITALIZATION Intravenous feeding may be required to correct weight and malnutrition. The first step of treatment, especially for anorexics, involves getting weight back to a normal level.

• NUTRITIONAL REHABILITATION Counseling with a nutritionist can help establish new eating habits.

TALK THERAPY Treatment for all eating disorders involves learning better ways to regulate emotion and tolerate distress. Cognitive- behavioural therapy, which examines thoughts and feelings in order to change distorted thought and behaviour patterns, is especially helpful for bulimics. If the eating disorder began after a trauma, treatment for the trauma may help resolve the eating disorder. Inter- personal therapy focuses on helping to rebuild supportive relationships. Sometimes it is helpful if family members participate in therapy.

• MEDICATIONS Certain SSRIs, a type of antidepressant, may relieve the mood and anxiety symptoms associated with anorexia.





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