Category Archives: Eating Disorder Program

What is Orthorexia?

Many have heard of the terms ‘Anorexia’ and ‘Bulimia,’ but few have heard of an emerging concept known as ‘Orthorexia Nervosa’. The term, which is not listed as a mental health diagnosis in the DSM-V, was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman n 1997 and further explored in his book with David Knight, Orthorexia Nervosa: Heath Food Junkies: Overcoming the Obsession with Healthful Eating (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Bratman, 2000). Orthorexia describes someone who is overly focused on “righteous” eating. Most often this refers to someone who is focused on healthy eating and to the types of foods they put in their bodies. Often they will follow common health fads such as macrobiotics, the paleo diet, etc. They may also cut out entire food groups such as starches or certain food dyes and additives in the quest to eat righteously. Reasons for cutting out these food groups or additives may be given as allergies or intolerances. As Dr. Bratman describes in his book, people may be so overly focused on eating the ‘right’ foods that they suffer health problems or become underweight due to excessive restriction, (Bratman, 2000).

However, the mentality of someone with orthorexia is much different than someone with anorexia or bulimia. The focus is not on becoming thin, but on being pure. Their focus on food is not the amount, but the purity (Krumer, 2008). What is similar is that both are willing to go hungry to attain their goal.

It is unknown how many people suffer from Orthorexia because only a handful of studies have examined it and there is no agreed upon definition of it. Bratman named the disorder from “ortho” meaning correct or true, melding it together with anorexia nervosa as the disorder involves restriction (Bratman, 2000). Some authors have proposed that orthorexic tendencies are actually precursors of more serious eating disorders (Krumer, 2008).

The term orthorexia has been expanded to include those who restrict food to the extreme for religious purposes such as fasting. Martin Luther, the protestant reformer was known to fast until he fainted, and other Christian mystics and ascetics were praised for their extreme fasting practices. This is not to say that the practice of fasting in any religion constitutes an eating disorder, however, fasting taken to a dangerous level in the pursuit of extreme holiness has been classified by some as a form of orthorexia (Apsell and Larson, 2000).

How does one distinguish healthy or pure eating from Orthorexia? Bratman does give some guidelines. First, the amount of time spent thinking about food is excessive. Bratman defines this as three or more hours per day thinking about healthy food. He also labels planning what one will eat in the future as a red flag. Second, he focuses on one’s relationship with food. For instance, does the person care more about the virtue of the food versus enjoying the food, or finding no joy in previously enjoyed food because it has been categorized as unhealthy? In addition, if one takes pride in what they eat in a way which causes them to believe they are superior to other “unhealthy” or “impure” eaters or if a person feels extreme guilt for eating “unhealthy” or “impure” food, they might be orthorexic. Perhaps the rules for what one can and cannot eat are become stricter as time goes on and as a result of eating “healthier” the person’s quality of life has decreased, rather than increased. Lastly, Bratman states that if the diet isolates a person from others, this could be a symptom of orthorexic eating.

It is possible that one could answer yes to one of these questions and not be orthorexic. One symptom does not create a disorder. It is the accumulation of these symptoms that Bratman states is an issue. If someone believes that they have Orthorexia, they can do a few things. First, recognize the issue and objectively evaluate the justification of such a diet. Second, think about eating in a different way or about eating something “unhealthy.” If anxiety occurs, the behavior is most likely more than healthy eating. Third, if you believe you or someone you know is orthorexic, consult a mental health professional who can assist in differentiating what is health driven and what is obsession. Also see your physician to address any health issues sustained as a result of the restrictive diet.

 

 

References:
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Apsell, P., & McPhee, Larson. (2000). Dying to be thin [motion picture]. Arlington, VA: PBS.
Bratman, S. and Knight, D. (2000). Health food Junkies: Orthorexia nervosa: Overcoming the obsession with healthful eating. New York, NY: Broadway Books.
Krumer, F.A. (2008). On the concept of orthorexia nervosa. Scandinavian Journal of Science and Sports, 18, 395-396
 

Disordered Eating

Disordered EatingWhat is Disordered Eating?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating . Such an alarming statistic for a problem that is so real but what do these words really mean and how can we substantiate a difference between them? Webster defines the word disorder as ‘an abnormal physical or mental condition’. An eating disorder mirrors both abnormal mental and physical patterns making it one of the deadliest psychiatric disorders. It is often characterized by disordered eating behaviors, distorted attitudes about food, and/or inadequate ways of weight control. The most common diagnoses are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and eating disorders not otherwise specified (ED NOS).

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Celebrity Body Acceptance Spotlight: Jennifer Lawrence

Celebrity Body Acceptance Spotlight Jennifer LawrenceCelebrity Body Acceptance Spotlight Jennifer Lawrence

A Celebrity’s weight is constantly under scrutiny by the media. Many celebrities who are already thin are Photoshopped to appear unrealistically thin in magazines and other forms of media and there is intense pressure to keep weight off.

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Information About Anorexia

Information About AnorexiaInformation About Anorexia Can Save the Life of a Loved One

Anorexia Nervosa is a life threatening mental health illness that affects millions of people each year.  According to the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person must meet the following criteria in order to be diagnosed:

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Who is Ana?

 

The Internet has changed how we access information.  It can be gathered more quickly and easily than in days past.  Unfortunately, the Internet can also be a breeding group for destructive information.  One of the types of destructive information found on the Internet is how to act on and conceal eating disorder behavior. 

            “Ana” has become a way to refer to Anorexia and “Mia” to Bulimia on websites known as “pro-ana” or “pro-mia” websites.  These Internet pages usually list tips for maintaining an eating disorder such as cutting calories and dealing with hunger, for instance.  Additionally, many suggest eating behavior that can be classified as an eating ritual, or a way of eating food which lessens the stress of eating.  Tips for how to conceal weight loss from concerned parties may also be found. 

            Additionally, pictures of thin celebrities are posted and are known as “thinspiration,” pictures of underweight or extremely thin body types which become goals.  Most of these sites also contain message boards in which those with eating disorders can obtain “support” for their lifestyle.  Many of these message board administrators claim that eating disorders, especially anorexia, are a lifestyle choice and can be lived out in a “healthy “way. 

            Ana and Mia are symbolic of the identity that some clients find in their eating disorder.  Thinking of the presence of an eating disorder in this way causes issues because it is difficult to think of how one would recover from an identity or a lifestyle.  These online communities offer support for the “stigma” against this chosen way of living and serve as roadblocks to recovery. 

            What can be done about the type of thinking put forth by these websites?  First, we must accept that this type of information exists and is unlikely to go away due to the free-speech aspect of the Internet.  Internet blocks can be installed if this type of Internet usage is suspected.

            Second, what we can do is be aware of these sites and aware of the fact that anorexia or bulimia may be seen as a way or life or an identity by certain clients.  Acknowledging this allows us to approach those we care about or care for in a way that is closer to how they approach the issue, which may foster communication. 

            Third, these sites tend to provide community and support for their visitors. However, this support is supporting a destructive lifestyle.  All people seek community, but the type of community provided is important.  Help the person to find a support group focused on recovery and which may help to separate the identity of Ana from their own identity.  Foster the activities that they wish to do which are different from the things that Ana wishes to do such as going to college, freely spending time with friends or gaining back time that is not focused on food.  Instead of asking “Who is Ana?” we can hope that they will begin to ask “Who am I?”

 

References
Fox, N., Ward, K., & O’Rourke, A. (2005). Pro-anorexia, weight-loss drugs and the internet: An ‘anti-recovery’ explanatory model of anorexia. Sociology of Health & Illness, 27(7), 944-  971. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9566.2005.00465.x
Gavin, J., Rodham, K., & Poyer, H. (2008). The presentation of “Pro-anorexia” in online group     interactions. Qualitative Health Research, 18(3), 325-333.            doi:10.1177/1049732307311640

What Are Food Rituals?

What Are Food RitualsEver Wondered What Are Food Rituals?

Food Rituals are compulsive ways in which a person interacts with food that produces anxiety when not followed.  For instance, many people who have eating disorders take abnormally small bites of food, and when not allowed to do so will feel extreme anxiety.  Others may tear their food apart and will feel anxiety if not allowed to do so. Many rituals make it less stressful to eat food, or have the purpose of making one full before they finish the meal. Others focus on making the meal taste bad by letting cereal become soggy, letting food become cold, and burning the food or over-seasoning the food to create a bad taste.  The purpose of this is to discourage the desire to eat these particular foods in the future.  

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No Parent Wants Their Child to Have To Spend Time in Eating Disorder Centers

There are few things in life that can be as scary to a parent as being told by their family doctor that their child has an eating disorder. This conjures up images of their child slowly starving themselves to the point where they are seriously ill or even die. Fortunately long before this can happen there are eating disorder centers such as the Center for Discovery that are specifically set to help teens overcome their disease and return to a normal life.

No parent wants their child to have be admitted to one of these eating disorder centers, but the reality is that if you want your child to have a real chance at overcoming their disease, the only that this is going to happen is for them to get the right kind of professional help. The only place they are going to get this kind of help is in an eating disorder treatment center.

Is There Help for Eating Disorders That Actually Works?

Most parents find that being told their child has an eating disorder can be a very stressful experience. The one thing that the average parent does know is that they are going to have to find their child professional help for eating disorders if they are ever going to get healthy again. The biggest question is whether or not the help that is available is really going to work or if you are just going to be wasting your time and money.

There is no such thing as an easy cure for any of the different eating disorder, yet what you will find is that the help for eating disorders that is available from places like the Center for Discovery offer your child a much better chance of attaining a full recovery than ever before. Although success rates today are very high, every patient is different and some may need more care than others in order to overcome their eating disorder.

Is an Eating Disorder Center Going To Be Able To Help Your Child?

The reality is that when you find out that instead of your teen just dieting a little in order to lose a few pounds, they have a serious eating disorder, it can leave you more than a little dazed and confused. You need to understand that this is a disease that requires professional treatment at an eating disorder center if you want your child to be able to overcome this disease and get back on track again.

The first thing an eating disorder clinic such as the Center for Discovery is going  to do is make a full and completed diagnosis of your teen, this way they can recommend the best possible course of treatment for them. The one thing that you need to keep in mind is that your child can overcome this disease, but only if you find them a treatment program.

Are Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatments Right for Your Teen?

Are Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatments Right for Your TeenAre Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatments Right for Your Teen?

If for any reason whatsoever you think that your teen might be suffering from any form of eating disorder, you should make an appointment for them with your family doctor. The most important thing you need to realize is that an eating disorder is a disease that, like any other needs to be treated professionally if you want your child to recover.  There are numerous types of eating disorder treatments available and your doctor will make his recommendations based on what stage of the disorder your child has reached.

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