Binge eating and eating disorder
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Do you have eating disorders?

Statistics of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are serious conditions characterized by an unhealthy preoccupation with food and body image. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating. Anorexia is marked by the refusal to eat and an obsession with weight loss.

Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binging and purging that the individual uses to control his or her weight.

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that involves sessions of intense overeating followed by feelings of shame.

Other disorders that are related to eating disorders include emotional eating and nocturnal eating.

Even though most people think of eating disorders as a condition that affects only young women, in reality eating disorders can affect people from all kinds of backgrounds. Here are some of the most recent statistics about incidence of eating disorders in the United States.

Eating disorders are not rare in the United States. In fact, it is estimated that currently there are approximately between 5 and 10 million women in the United States who suffer from some kind of eating disorder, or are at the borderline of developing one. It is also estimated that over one million boys and men suffer from some kind of eating disorder.

Most physicians believe that this statistic may not be accurate because many men with eating disorders are not accurately diagnosed. Studies have shown that many men are told that they are simply tired or depressed, when they are actually suffering from an eating disorder.

One startling statistic reveals how prevalent eating disorders actually are in the United States. According to recent research, the number of people suffering from an eating disorder is three times as much as the number of people currently living with AIDS. Another statistic tells us that there are three times as many people with eating disorders than there are schizophrenia patients in the United States.

Another set of statistics reveals the way issues of beauty and body image are portrayed in the media. According to research, the average modern American woman is 5'4" tall and weighs approximately 140 pounds. Compare this to the image that fashion magazines and TV commercials present as the ideal of beauty. The average American model is 5'11" tall and weights 117 pounds, and they are represented as the ideal of our cultural beauty.

The disparity between these two figures, some commentators and physicians argue, is partly responsible to the way women view their bodies and construct their self-image. Many women find themselves deficient when compared to the ideal presented through the media. The effect of media images on young children have not been lost on researchers, who find that many young children are already consumed by thoughts of weight and physical beauty.

Recent studies find that roughly half of all American elementary age school children would like to be thinner, and even Kindergarten aged students have been shown to display anxiety over their physical appearance and their fear of gaining weight. Many young children find themselves already preoccupied with either losing or maintaining their weight, and have even gone on diets to achieve these goals.

Treating An Eating Disorder
The majority of people who are suffering from an eating disorder, particularly in the early stages resist any form of treatment or change to their behaviour. Sadly they are under the illusion that if they lose weight or remain slim, they will feel better about themselves and their lives will be improved whilst enjoying success and self confidence.

However, after a while anorexics begin to comprehend that their perceived benefits of being thin are an illusion and will fail to bring them happiness and starving themselves along with the other usual weight loss characteristics is not the answer. Once an anorexic has reached this point in their illness they begin to search for other ways to build a meaningful life although there are a number of obstacles to reach this point.
During the treatment stage, between 20-30% drops out too early and relapse.

Many of those who continue their treatment have lapses and become discouraged to continue. When an anorexic realises that it takes months, sometimes years or hard work and determination before they are recovered they often give up too.

There are four major stages of commitment in the recovery process for anorexia:

i) obtain treatment
ii) remain in treatment
iii) make certain changes to one’s lifestyle
iv) treat the underlying emotional/psychological issues that led to the eating disorder in the first instance.

Recovery for people with eating disorder is possible and a lot of people have received successful treatment. However, the treatment and recovery process is a very difficult process and can take over a decade for some, although others make a much faster progress. Those who receive treatment for the psychological issues along with the medical ones that contribute to the disorder usually make a faster recovery.

The recovery rate or significant progress rate of those who receive treatment for eating disorders is approximately 80%. The remaining 20% are regarded as chronic sufferers or die.

Recovery is a lot more that one having the ability to eat a normal size meal with ease. It includes the following at minimum.

• for women menstrual periods return to a normal regularity
• normal or near normal weight is maintained
• a balanced diet of a normal variety of foods and not just those which as low in fat, sugar or low calorie
• appropriate relationships with family members
• a major reduction or elimination of food fears which are irrational
• natural interests in romantic relationships
• mutually satisfying relationships which are healthy and with normal people
• appreciating the process of making choices and having consequences
• having goals and a plan to achieve them which is realistic
• activities which are fun and not involving food appearance or ones’ weight.

• Individual no longer drives oneself with criticism and demands for any unrealistic performance
• Gains strong ability for problem solving

Every person’s situation it unique therefore the treatment is essentially custom made. However, the treatment process should always begin with an evaluation by the physician or an eating disorder counsellor.

Preventing Eating Disorders
Can eating disorders be prevented? This is a question that many health professionals and eating disorder patients would like to know. According to recent research, it appears that there are several preventive measures that can be taken in order to prevent the development of an eating disorder.

Preventive measures should be adopted early on in families where there is a history of eating disorders or other types of compulsive behaviors. Here are five preventive measures that anyone can enact in order to keep eating disorders at bay.

1 Refuse to diet. Dieting, eating disorder experts tell us, is usually the first step to developing an eating disorder. One eating disorder support organization notes that women who adopt extremes in their dieting are eighteen times more at risk of developing an eating disorder. If someone in your family may be vulnerable to developing an eating disorder, they should refrain from dieting. Instead, the individual should visit a physician to learn about safe and effective ways to losing weight. Diets, with their philosophy of deprivation, only exacerbate the eating disorder patient's propensity for engaging in destructive and compulsive behavior.
2 Parents should act as positive and healthy role models. Researchers tell us that parents play a very important role in whether children will eventually develop an eating disorder. Many parents unconsciously project unhealthy beliefs and attitudes about their own bodies that their children pick up on. Parents who place a high value on being thin or other aspects of one's physical appearance may be sending the message to their children that physical appearance is more important than being happy and healthy. Parents should strive to cultivate a positive attitude about their own bodies. They should provide their children with a safe, caring and non-judgmental atmosphere. This can be accomplished by planning nutritious meals and fun activities that involve the entire family. Negative self-talk should always be avoided.
3 Family dynamics can prove key to preventing an eating disorder. Families should strive to spend quality time together. Prepare and eat dinner together, and engage in fun outdoor activities. Competition and criticism should be avoided in order to create a safe and caring environment where children feel valued.
4 Think of exercise as a means to good health, not a slim body. Our collective attitude towards exercise is generally negative. As a culture, we think of exercise as just another chore, something that is boring, hard, and even painful. Changing the way you think about exercise can help prevent the onset of an eating disorder. Regaining a sense of the pure joy of movement is one way to prevent the development of eating disorders. Strive to engage in activities that interest and thrill you.
5 Eat a variety of foods in moderation. Eating food in moderation means you can eat even your favorite guilty pleasures. Resist from making a mental "do not eat" list in order to cultivate a healthy attitude towards food. Remember, you can eat anything you want, as long as you keep your foods balanced.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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