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Tips to Overcome Eating Disorder

A preoccupation with food, dieting, and body image can give food an inordinate control over a person's life and result in damage to both health and looks. It can seriously interfere with the ability to enjoy life and to feel good. Beginning to understand the feelings that lead to unhealthy eating behaviors, however, is a first step to changing those behaviors so that food is no longer a problem.

Here are some tips for dealing with an eating problem, whether it's yours or a friend's.

Tips to help yourself with Eating Disorders

If you have an eating disorder or you think you may be developing one, there are some definite steps you can take to help yourself.
  1. Refuse to accept society's expectations about eating habits and appearance.
  2. Value your own good health as well as your external appearance.
  3. Seek education from a registered dietitian
  4. Eat slowly, enjoy your food, and give yourself permission to stop when you feel full.
  5. Think of food as the fuel your body needs to function, rather than as the enemy or as a consoling friend.
  6. When you want to binge, purge, or not allow yourself to eat, identify the feelings you are having-such as the "blues" or low self-esteem.
  7. After you have identified your feelings, you can then go to work to find healthier ways to manage them.
  8. Consider seeking counseling from a professional who can help you identify the causes and help you work out a plan to overcome your problem.

Tips to help your friend with Eating Disorders

If you have a friend, who has eating disorders, then you can help him or her to overcome this disorder and stress that accompanies it. Here are some tips to overcome eating disorders:
  1. Talk to your friend in general terms about her or his health, but don't primarily focus on eating behavior, weight, or appearance.
  2. Send "I" messages instead of "you" messages. For example, say "I am concerned because . . ." rather than "You need to stop weighing yourself ten times a day."
  3. If your friend has some concerns, listen with empathy and avoid making judgments.
  4. Reach out to that person as a true friend, communicating that you care.
  5. Avoid agreeing to keep your friend's problem a secret, or doing things, which might "cover up" your friend's behavior (i.e., hiding food).
  6. Be supportive and encourage your friend to seek help, perhaps using the resources listed at the end of this webpage.
  7. If you are not a close acquaintance to the person, find another person who is a good friend. Messages are better received from close friends.
Eating disorders involve serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating, as well as feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.

Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood.

Tips for Parents to Help their Children Overcome Eating Disorders

Parents who notice symptoms of an eating disorder in their teenagers should ask their family physician or pediatrician for a referral to a child and adolescent mental health professional.

With comprehensive treatment, most teenagers can be relieved of the symptoms or helped to control eating disorders. Mental health professionals that specialize in working with children and adolescents are trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat these psychiatric disorders.Eating disorders frequently co-occur with depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders, and it is important to recognize and get appropriate treatment for these problems as well.

Treatment for eating disorders usually requires a team approach; including individual therapy, family therapy, working with a primary care physician, and working with a nutritionist.

Treatment usually begins in an outpatient setting, but residential treatment may be necessary if symptoms are severe.

Hospitalization may be necessary if there is:
  • Significant weight loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Cardiac dysfunctions
  • Fluid retention
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte disturbances
  • Inability to function at home, school, and the community
  • Severe depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
If the hospital is not exclusive to the treatment of eating disorders, the individual should then be transferred to a residential treatment center specializing in eating disorders that addresses underlying psychological issues and provides a safe, secure, loving, and supportive environment.