Eating Disorders

Adolescent girls are at high risk for developing an eating disorder. There is a normal weight gain occurring during puberty that provides the energy needed for the body to go through its natural series of changes. In addition girls have many other pressures from the media, their parents, their peers, possible sexual trauma, their own perfectionism, their own depression, lack of self-esteem, etc. Here is some info on common eating disorders and what you can do to live a healthier happier life.

Anorexia nervosa
Bulimia
Compulsive eating
Fear-of-obesity
Obesity
Controling weight
Where to find help

Anorexia Nervosa

A psychological eating disorder characterized by compulsive dieting and self-starvation.

Symptoms:

  • Food avoidance
  • A strong fear of fat
  • Over-exercising
  • Always feeling fat no matter how thin you get
  • Refusal to maintain at least a minimum health-required body weight
  • Obsession with food
  • Over-use of laxatives
  • Lack of menstrual periods
  • Occasional eating binges followed by self-induced vomiting.

If not treated...

  • 5 to 15% of anorexia cases result in death
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Abnormally low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Decreased bone density

Treatment:

  • See your physician! If you have this problem no over-the-counter or home remedy is sufficient. You need someone else's help. Start with your physician.
  • Family therapy
  • Prescription drugs: Opioid inhibitors such as Naltrexone can be used to break the addiction to dieting.

Bulimia

An eating disorder, possibly associated with depression, anxiety disorders, or substance abuse, characterized by binge eating (gorging oneself) followed by self-induced vomiting and laxative abuse.

Symptoms:

  • Gorging oneself followed by self-induced vomiting
  • Enema and laxative abuse
  • Deceptively normal weight
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Irritated mouth tissue
  • Severe tooth decay

If left untreated...

  • Ulcers
  • Hernia
  • Ruptured esophagus possibly causing death
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac arrest due to Laxative and diuretic drug overdose

Treatment:

  • See your physician. Like Anorexia people suffering from bulimia must get help from others. Psychotherapy, and some prescription drugs such as anti-depressants and Prozac.

Compulsive Eating

Eating large amounts of food to combat emotional distress. Do you eat, then feel guilty, then eat to fill your guilt, then feel more guilty, etc.? Do you eat to fill your insecurity?

Symptoms:

  • Eating large quantities of food between meals, often in secret, when you're not particularly hungry, during emotional periods of time, negative or positive.

If left untreated compulsive eating can lead to...

  • Social discrimination due to obesity
  • Adult obesity, which increases one's risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Treatment:

  • Make an eating plan including well-balanced meals, possibly with the help of a nutritionist or a group such as weight watchers. Being in a group of people who share a common problem can give you emotional strength to overcome your problem.
  • Exercise
  • Face the reason you started eating compulsively. People often start using food to deal with personal problems. (see controlling your weight)
  • Seek counseling with a professional, or family therapy. A psychologist may help you get to the root of the problem.

Fear-of-Obesity

An exaggerated fear of becoming fat, causing a person to suffer from self-induced malnutrition. Fear-of-obesity can lead to an eating disorder, and interfere with growth and development.

Symptoms:

  • Food avoidance
  • Compulsive dieting: Every time you quickly drop in weight you release large amounts of toxin into your blood. This is why it is safer to adopt a healthy lifestyle, loose the weight gradually and keep it off. However, those who suffer from fear-of-obesity tend to repeat the cycle of dieting and regaining the weight over and over again.
  • Thinking you look fat even if you're not overweight.

Treatment:

  • Nutritional and behavioral counseling from a nutritionist, psychologist and/or physician.

Obesity

Being overweight to a degree, which is beyond what the body is structurally equiped to handle, due to an excessive accumulation of body fat. Obesity leads to a long list of physical and emotional problems.

The Costs

  • Severe stress on the back, legs, and internal organs.
  • Increased resistance to insulin leading to diabetes
  • Increased vulnerability to infection

Increased risk of...

  • Depression
  • Mental suffering.
  • Asthma
  • High blood pressure
  • Gall bladder disease
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver damage
  • Infertility
  • Stroke
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Cancer
  • Death

Why should a teen be concerned?

  • 1 out of every 4 teens carry enough excess weight to put them at high risk for heart attack. Stroke, colon cancer, gout and other health problems later in life, regardless of whether the individual loses the weight as an adult.
  • Teens who are overweight have a 75% chance of being overweight as an adult.
  • 1 third of Americans are at least 20% overweight.
  • 25 to 50% of adult Americans are on some sort of diet at any given time.
  • Americans spend more than $30 billion each year on diet aids and remedies.
  • STILL Americans today are more overweight and stressed out and no more likely to exercise than we were ten years ago.

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Related Info

Where to find help

Anorexia and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (ANRED)
www.anred.com

American Anorexia/Bulimia Association
www.members.aol.com/amanbu/index

National Eating Disorders Organization
www.laureate.com/nedointro.html

Males and Eating Disorders
www.gurze.net/site12_5_00/abouteating_males.htm
www.caringonline.com/eatdis/topics/males.htm
www.eating-disorder.org/men.html

Recovery Programs

You may consider checking into a recovery program for a period of time.

Shades of Hope
If you are open to religion and at least 13 years old you may want to consider calling Shades of Hope. They offer a 42 day stay at a pretty location in Texas, during which you'll receive exercise therapy, individual and group counseling, addiction education, nutritional assessment, food plans, etc. Their philosophy: "We believe that eating disorders are an addiction and thus treat them as such. We believe that although behaviors may be learned if the issues causing the behaviors is not addressed then recovery is not attained. Shades of Hope strongly feels that those with addictions have a "hole in the soul" a lost connection with one’s spiritual self. Until one admits one is helpless to the disease and that without help from something – a God of one’s own understanding- that recovery is limited."
PO Box 639
Buffalo Gap, Texas 79508
1-800-588-HOPE (4673)
www.shadesofhope.com