June 14, 2013 by Deanna James, LPC, CEDS in Eating Disorder Treatment Guest Post by Melissa Hathaway
An eating disorder can be identified as an abnormal attitude towards food, therefore resulting in a difference in eating habits. It is such a vast disorder and has a wide range of physical, psychological and social effects, therefore the number of causes and treatments are varied. The disorder affects 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2000 men, which is usually developed in early to mid teenage years. It can be treated through a variety of therapies or medication, however many people believe that a healthy lifestyle and full recovery after the disorder is unrealistic. It is possible however, and those who have suffered an eating disorder will not always suffer anxiety about what is on their plate, and will one day find that a healthy lifestyle is out there waiting for them.
Positive Thoughts That Lead to Positive Actions
There are many different forms of therapy to help the process of recovery, and as eating disorders are mainly psychological, therapy is in most cases, the most popular and successful treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most widely used form of psychotherapy as it focuses on the negative patterns of thinking, therefore challenging negative attitudes towards food and eating habits. As eating disorders are encompassed by negative and irrational beliefs, CBT reflects the concept of positive thoughts leading to positive actions, which can dramatically improve a patient’s recovery. It attempts to reverse these negative thoughts into positive attitudes towards eating, giving the patient control over how they interpret their eating habits and easily allows them to incorporate their new attitudes into real life.
Skills that are learned and acquired through the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can also be easily applied to the real world. The therapy requires the individual to complete mood journals and food diaries to really make positive thoughts into reality. Therefore, not only does CBT address psychological factors, but also social aspects of a patient’s everyday life that may affect their attitude towards not only eating and food, but also their attitude towards themselves and the world around them. Overall, it is the most important therapy as positivity is essential for a complete change in mental attitude.
A Healthy Lifestyle is out There
The world of healthy and normal eating may be a scary thought for a recovering patient. Whether the patient has been addicted to junk food or strictly healthy foods, once entering the world of recovery, moderation is the most important aspect to become accustomed to. It may take its time, but it will eventually become a natural and normal part of the patient’s everyday life.
Many individuals’ daily routines are completely altered whilst suffering with an eating disorder, and instead of focusing on a balanced and healthy lifestyle, they become anxious with regards to calories and exact amounts of what they are eating. These aspects of life can be particularly difficult to overcome and change while in the first stages of recovery. It is initially difficult to admit that anxiety over amounts of food and calories is unhealthy and not normal, therefore defiance to change their lifestyle is likely to occur. However, once positive thoughts start to take over it is easily recognized that a healthy lifestyle and healthy body will eventually lead to a healthy mind. Keeping the mind free of anxious calorie counting will enable the patient to realise that calories are not essentially the key to weight gain or weight loss. It is instead a combination of carbohydrates and healthy sugars that can be found in a variety of foods. Changing attitudes and beginning to think positively about these foods will ensure a steady and healthy recovery for good.
It is essential however to make these changes permanent to ensure a complete and full recovery in order for anxiety and irrational thoughts to stay at bay. There may be many occasions where temptation to calorie count may occur, and feelings of anxiety towards what is on their plate could return once you have recovery has started. Keeping up the positive thoughts and attitudes towards food will not only begin to alter the psychological attitude towards eating, but they will also notice the dramatic change in the physical signs of the eating disorder. Not only does an eating disorder cause a noticeable, and in some cases, a dramatic change in weight. It can also create physical fatigue and hair loss. Hair will get noticeably thinner and finer, and can even fall out quite quickly if someone is suffering from anorexia and restricting or bulimia and has a lack of nutritive intake due to vomiting after eating. This is mainly due to the lack of Vitamin A, protein and iron from a very restricted diet. Whether the aim is to gain or lose weight, a more balanced and moderate food plan will help the patient move into recovery. The patient can begin to feel positive about the food in front of them and the gaining of weight, while alternatively feeling negative about the sensation of hunger and noticing weight loss. Reducing stress and anxiety are other major elements to paving the way to a healthy lifestyle, which is possible and within reach for anyone recovering from an eating disorder.