Tag Archives: Eating Disorders

Body Dissatisfaction

Body DissatisfactionRisk Factors for Body Dissatisfaction

Different people have bodies of different shapes and sizes. Despite the diversity of body shapes, many men and women wish that their body looked different. This phenomenon is known as body dissatisfaction or negative body image and is all too common. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) defines negative body image as “A distorted perception of your shape—you perceive parts of your body unlike they really are” and also adds that those with negative body image see themselves as unattractive and feel self-conscious and awkward in their own bodies (NEDA, 2013). In contrast, those with positive body image see a true representation of themselves, and are also able to disconnect their self-worth from their body shape, accept their body as unique and feel comfortable and confident in their own bodies (NEDA, 2013).

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Causes of Eating Disorders

Causes of Eating DisordersWhat Are the Causes of Eating Disorders

To say that there is one cause or something whose direct outcome results in an eating disorder is almost impossible. Therefore this article addresses some of the factors and trends that seem to commonly correlate with the outcome of an eating disorder. As with most modern day mental health issues, there is the bio-psycho-social approach, which analyzes the biological, psychological, and social/ environmental links to any given disorders.

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The Under-Education of Over-Exercising

undereducation overexercising
What Does the Undereducation of Overexercising Really Mean?

In our society, we are bombarded with messages about exercising and eating.
These messages come through many different outlets including television, radio,
magazines, and even through government sponsored campaigns. According to Let’s
Move.gov, Michelle Obama recently launched a campaign called “Let’s Move” to raise awareness of the importance of exercise and encourage children to exercise for an hour per day and adults to exercise for thirty minutes per day.

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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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Eating Disorders Affect Different People Differently

Eating Disorders Affect Different People DifferentlyEating Disorders Affect Different People Differently

If someone you know mention eating disorders, the first image that probably comes to you mind is a waif thin teenage girl who is suffering from anorexia nervosa. This may be the most publicized eating disorder; it is definitely not the only one. In it is only one of the three most common eating disorders, the others are bulimia and binge eating.

 

An Eating Disorder is a Disease

While anorexia and bulimia both involve either not eating our purging any food that is eating, binge eating involves over eating that leads to obesity and other health issues. All of these eating disorders have one thing in common; they require professional help to regain control of their eating habits and their lives before their problems become so severe that they die. At Center for Discovery we specialize in helping teens learn to overcome their disease and get their lives back in order. Center For Discovery provides integrated multifaceted methods of care that range from residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs for children, teens, and adults that are struggling with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

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