When you become so preoccupied with food and weight issues that you find it harder and harder to focus on other aspects of your life, it may be an early sign of an eating disorder. Without treatment, eating disorders can take over a person’s life and lead to serious, potentially fatal medical complications.
Often simply called anorexia, is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight or shape. People with anorexia use extreme efforts to control their weight and shape, which often significantly interferes with their health and life activities.
Commonly called bulimia, is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. When you have bulimia, you have episodes of bingeing and purging that involve feeling a lack of control over your eating. Many people with bulimia also restrict their eating during the day, which often leads to more binge eating and purging.
The essential feature of binge-eating disorder is regularly (at least once every week for more than 3 months) eat too much food (binging) and feel a lack of control over your eating. You may eat quickly or eat more food than intended, even when you're not hungry, and you may continue eating even long after you're uncomfortably full.
Rumination disorder is repeatedly and persistently regurgitating food after eating, but it's not due to a medical condition or another eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. Sometimes regurgitated food is re-chewed and re-swallowed or spit out.
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is characterized by failing to meet your minimum daily nutrition requirements because you don't have an interest in eating; you avoid food with certain sensory characteristics, such as color, texture, smell or taste; or you're concerned about the consequences of eating, such as fear of choking. Food is not avoided because of fear of gaining weight.
Don't skip therapy sessions and try not to stray from meal plans. Follow your doctor's recommendations on physical activity and exercise.
Talk to your doctor about appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements. If you're not eating well, chances are your body isn't getting all of the nutrients it needs, such as vitamin D or iron. However, getting most of your vitamins and minerals from food is typically recommended.
Resist urges to weigh yourself or check yourself in the mirror frequently. This may simply fuel your drive to maintain unhealthy habits.
Don't isolate yourself from caring family members and friends who want to see you get healthy and have your best interests at heart.
Family dining habits may influence the relationships children develop with food. Eating meals together gives you an opportunity to teach your child about the pitfalls of dieting and encourages eating a balanced diet in reasonable portions.
For example, there are numerous websites that promote dangerous ideas, such as viewing anorexia as a lifestyle choice rather than an eating disorder. It's crucial to correct any misperceptions like this and to talk to your child about the risks of unhealthy eating choices.
Cultivate and reinforce a healthy body image in your child, whatever his or her shape or size. Talk to your child about self-image and offer reassurance that body shapes can vary. Avoid criticizing your own body in front of your child. Messages of acceptance and respect can help build healthy self-esteem and resilience that will carry children through the rocky periods of the teen years.
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