Techniques for Treating Eating Disorders Part II

Techniques for Treating Eating Disorders Part II

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Small changes can produce big results. Likewise, a small step can offer big help for weight management.

A survey conducted by Nutricise, an online weight loss program, suggests that people tend to overeat at the same time of the day. More than one third of the survey participants "snacked" with rich snacks such as the candies, cookies and doughnuts during prime time television, adding up to 300 to 500 calories per snack. Perhaps, you do it too. See, you don't have to go through a high-tech weight loss program, give up everything you love to eat or live the life of a herbivorous hermit. Just knock off one measly cookie or a third of that candy bar or perhaps a half of that premium ice cream and you would stop taking in as much as one hundred calories every day.

This small step, if repeated every day for a year with everything else constant, leaving everything just as you ate before, you can lose about ten pounds by the end of the year. Isn't that something?

Accept your appearance. Resolve those inner conflicts which gnaw at you. Understand what's eating you. Food becomes opium for some. Do you have people who support you and nourish you? If the people who should have loved you don't, open your heart to others. Support others and allow others to support you. See, we can get what we want, if we can give others what they want.

An extremely negative view of one's appearance can sabotage all efforts for self-improvement and weight management. A negative view of appearance can interfere with the pursuit of your major life goals. It is better to have a realistic view of your appearance and accept it.

Develop healthier ways to cope with stressful situations. Fear, tension, anger or intolerance of loneliness often leads people to "nibble."

Some people are experts on calories, carbohydrates and fats but know little about health or the nutritional value of foods. Once I saw a teen who was borderline anorexic. She had memorized (or digested) the pocketbook "counter" for calories, carbohydrates and fats, but knew little about what she needed to grow physically and mentally. Meeting her mother I realized that she too was a "weight phobic" and non-cognizant of the nutritional value of foods. Too much focus on weight left little room for such positive aspects as health, energy and vitality.

Excessive concern regarding shape and weight and blind subscription to restrictive dieting can lead to binging and purging or self-starvation. Many parents who are themselves fixated on shape, weight and diet consciously or subconsciously pass similar values to their children. We have second and third generation children brought up in a weight- and diet-obsessed society.

Health consciousness and education regarding the nutritious value of foods should be imparted from early childhoods. Over concern with shape and unrealistically negative ideas about self are firmly entrenched in many children before they go to middle school.

The gain in self-esteem and self-acceptance can lead to a loss in weight-an observation confirmed through research and clinical experience. Yet, many people fear that if they accept themselves as they are, including their weight, they might never recover. Their fear is unfounded.

Modify the negative ideas about appearance and self-image. Examine the unrealistic ideas and inappropriate behaviors related to food. Feel good about yourself regardless of the shape. Change the eating behavior and normalize your diet.

Improve the quality of your relationships. Is something blocking the expression of such positive emotions as love and joy in an intimate relationship? Resolve the conflicts and heal the relationships. Expand your social network. It should be such that it relaxes you rather than keep you tensed up.

Christopher Fairburn, a psychiatrist and eating disorder expert at Oxford University, discussing the treatments for obesity, points out that surgery is the best but it's pretty radical. Medication, he observes helps only five percent of the people and they have to keep taking it indefinitely. Binge eaters who have chronic emotional and personality problems are the hardest to treat.

One hundred years ago only four percent of people were obese. Today, more than thirty percent are. Such a massive increase can't be all blamed on the "obesity genes." Our emotions and behaviors have something to do with it.

Emotional problems leading to eating disorders can lead to obesity and the latter can lead to major medical problems such as diabetes, colorectal cancer, hypertension, stroke or heart attack. In view of such a chain of effects, it makes sense to treat the underlying emotional disorder, to treat an eating disorder so the obesity can be reversed and future outcomes such as the hypertension, stroke and heart attack can be prevented.

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Copyright 2002, Mind Publications 


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