By Steven Karp, DO, FACN
One of the first questions people struggling with eating disorders ask is how to get these crazy thoughts about food, weight and body image out of their head. What is the best treatment to stop these obsessive thoughts and the compulsive nature of the eating disorder behaviors? The answer is simple, FOOD, in an adequate variety, quantity and quality so it can restore the body and brain to a healthy nutritional state.
Eating disorders are serious illnesses that endanger the long-term health of the people suffering with them. Pregnancy can add an additional layer of concern to disordered eating, because the eating habits of pregnant women affect not only their own health, but also the health of their developing babies. Furthermore, weight gain is critical for most healthy pregnancies, which can cause women with a history of anorexia, bulimia and even binge eating disorder to suffer serious fear and anxiety.
Food addiction is a real problem for many people, and if you are one of those struggling with the disorder, you know how frustrating it is to try to stop eating and to be unable to control your urges. In official terms, this is called binge eating disorder, but it comes with symptoms so similar to drug addiction that many experts consider it a type of addiction. If you struggle with food addiction, you go on binges, eating in a way that is totally out of control, eating to the point of feeling sick, and then feeling depressed and ashamed afterward. It’s a vicious cycle, but it is one that you can end for good.
If you have ever lamented your inability to stop eating cookies after one, or two or five, felt shame after eating an entire cake or binging on a gallon of ice cream, or felt intense cravings for a sugary snack, you may be a sugar addict. The good news is that addiction treatment centers are catching up to the research that tells us sugar addiction is real. You actually can go to rehab and come clean from your sugar habit.
It’s the rare person who has never turned to food in times of great stress, be it the proverbial pint of ice cream after a bad break-up or some other soothing indulgence. But some people become too reliant on stress eating, to the extent that it becomes their only means of handling stressful situations.
Weight and weight loss can be extremely difficult to navigate for someone who has suffered with an eating disorder in the past. For many people, the recovery process involves avoiding scales altogether, and with them any numbers concerned with weight loss and weight management, such as calorie counting.
Being overweight means battling with food and eating every day. Headlines have suggested that sugar is addictive, fat is addictive, salt is addictive and that we can blame junk foods for getting overweight or obese. But is it really the food that has us hooked? Or is it the act of eating itself? New research says that we get addicted to the act of eating, the behavior of binging on food, not on individual types of food or ingredients. A better understanding of the addiction that leads to weight gain could help experts treat patients more effectively.
To many people, food addiction might sound like a joke. To those who battle it every day, it is anything but funny. As researchers delve deeper into the mysteries of the brain and how it responds to food, we are learning that food addiction is a real issue and that it may be underlying the struggle many people have with being overweight or obese. If you have never considered food addiction to be a real possibility, learn what it’s like to obsess about eating day in and day out.
Do you find yourself unable to avoid pulling into a fast food drive-in for lunch? Can you barely resist the urge to get a donut with your coffee? Have you stopped keeping chips in the house because you can’t control how many you eat in one sitting? If you can say yes to these questions, you’re not alone. Most of us find junk food and fast food irresistible, even when we know how harmful they are. These foods are carefully crafted by companies to make you want more. Here are five common fast food ingredients that keep you coming back for more:
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition that causes affected individuals to negatively focus their attention on minor or nonexistent “flaws” in their physical appearance. The American Psychiatric Association classifies the condition as a close relative of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People affected by eating disorders also commonly have fixations regarding their appearance, but usually base those fixations specifically on weight-related concerns. In a study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, a German research team sought to determine how many people with eating disorders also have body dysmorphic disorder. The members of this team concluded that significant numbers of people have coexisting cases of an eating disorder and BDD, or have an eating disorder combined with isolated BDD-related symptoms.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health is the main tool for mental health professionals when diagnosing and treating patients with mental illness. The latest edition, known as DSM-V, included binge eating as a formal diagnosis, rather than its previous categorization as an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A recent global study finds that binge eating shares many of the same long-range outcomes as the more well-known eating disorder bulimia.
It is particularly difficult to stay sober or in control when everyone around you is indulging or overindulging. Unfortunately, the holiday season has become a time of indulgence with temptation lurking around every corner.
Eating disorders affect over 11 million people in the United States, according to the National Eating Disorder Coalition. Those who suffer from eating disorders are 18 times more likely to die earlier than their peers without an eating disorder. A recent study was conducted to try and predict which individuals are most likely to develop the disorder in order to stop it before it starts.
Chances are, the first time you heard the term “thigh gap” it was from someone warning you not to worry about having one. In this world of lightening-fast information dissemination, it can be nearly impossible to trace the course of a term, idea, image, etc., that has gone “viral.” But all to often, it seems that the people professing the greatest concern about something spreading are the ones most responsible for the act of spreading it.
Eating disorder awareness is at an all-time high worldwide, as are diagnoses of eating disorders. This increased awareness almost certainly means that more people suffering from these illnesses are identified and treated. But it also means that the general public sometimes transforms into the eating disorder police, eager to make snap diagnoses of eating disorders for every celebrity who appears to be underweight, and quick to be loudly horrified over the latest body conscious terms that enter the public consciousness.
The American Psychiatric Association’s latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published in May 2013, includes several disorders and syndromes that were not recognized as real mental illnesses in the past. One of these newly recognized conditions is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder —which is more commonly known as selective eating disorder.
A condition that first appears in early childhood, selective eating disorder is sometimes referred to simply as “picky eating,” but the use of this phrase is highly misleading. While it is not uncommon for toddlers to be fussy about food and to refuse to eat certain dishes, selective eating disorder, or SED, is a much more extreme condition that causes those suffering from it to reject all but a very small sampling of the foods they are offered. In fact, SED victims will routinely reject entire food groups such as vegetables or meats, apparently because they are revolted by the texture, smell, or appearance of those items and cannot bear the thought of chewing and swallowing them.