Keeping a Healthy Diet and Fighting Eating Disorders

Keeping a Healthy Diet and Fighting Eating Disorders

Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating are three very common types of eating disorders. All result in the distortion of eating habits and attitudes towards food, leaving a sufferer highly susceptible to nutritional and mineral deficiencies, as well as ill health. Many eating disorders leave their sufferers feeling as if they have lost control. These feelings may be close to the truth, as untreated eating disorders can have complications so severe that they can lead to death. Recovering from an eating disorder requires the modification of beliefs about self, but also about food. Sufferers are challenged to redesign their belief systems so that food and its true purposes are recognized. With the help of medical professionals and nutritionists, those afflicted with eating disorders can begin to adopt healthy eating habits and regain their well-being. For a truly successful program, sufferers should also have the underlying emotional and psychological problems that led to their eating disorders addressed.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by the binging and purging of foods, which are usually high in carbohydrates. Individuals with this disorder may overeat, and then attempt to rid their bodies of the food after consumption, either through vomiting, exercising, or the abuse of laxatives. Typically, bulimics are overly concerned with their body images, and their weights regularly fluctuate. While one of the main consequences of bulimia is nutritional deficiency, bulimia can also lead to death, if left untreated.

Binging and purging can have a negative impact on an afflicted person’s body. Nutritional and mineral levels, especially, can be thrown off balance by this disorder and will need to be readjusted to maintain health. Part of striking the right balance of nutrients and minerals can require eating healthy foods and even consuming dietary supplements. People recovering from bulimia should avoid stimulants like caffeine, depressants like alcohol, and toxins like tobacco. Anything containing sugar should also be abstained from. Staying hydrated with the recommended eight glasses of water a day is advised. Consuming protein can help rebuild muscles that may have been damaged during the period of bulimia.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa can be best described as a condition that leads its suffers to extreme, self-imposed weight loss. Anorexics have an irrational fear of putting on weight and, as a result, do what they can to restrict their weight. They are known for over-extending themselves with exercise and restricting their diets, sometimes to the point of starvation. Body images are typically distorted, with the afflicted believing that they are fat, regardless of their actual weight. The importance that they put on weight, however, is simply an extension of issues they may have emotionally or psychologically with the concept of perfectionism and with current ideals of beauty.

A large part of recovering from anorexia will require that patients redefine their beliefs about food and weight. Anorexics will have to trade dieting behaviors for meal plans that support nutritional and mineral build-up. A reevaluation and adoption of healthy eating habits will have to be implemented into a treatment plan. Foods that increase potassium levels can be especially beneficial, as this can be effected by anorexia. Increasing protein intake can also help with muscle building, especially after extreme weight loss. Dietary supplements like creatine, and others that contain the building blocks for healthy muscles, like fatty acids, should also be considered as part of a treatment program.

Binge Eating Disorder

Whereas other eating disorders may be characterized by the restriction of food, binge eating disorder is known for its excessive consumption of food. Individuals with this disorder overeat, often consuming food in large quantities in relatively short periods of time. It’s not uncommon for much of this consumption to take place in one sitting. Since binge eaters consume food when they’re not hungry, they hide much of their eating out of shame. Binge eaters often have heightened emotional responses to the condition, including guilt, disgust and depression.

Recovery from binge eating habits can require medical supervision, psychotherapy and guidance from a nutritionist. A large part of recovering from binge-eating is teaching the afflicted individual about food’s proper role in a healthy body. Weight loss programs, regardless of whether obesity is present or not, can benefit patients because of their strict restrictions on caloric and food intake. Changing a patient’s beliefs about food, promoting healthy eating and implementing an exercise program can be the keys to combating binge eating.

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Editor: Paul Blake

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