There can be many factors that contribute to the development of an eating disorder, including genetics, certain types of medical problems, childhood traumatic experiences, family role modeling and cultural influences that emphasize thinness as ideal. Recovery from an eating disorder can be a very difficult process and significant support is necessary.
There are three main types of eating disorders:
Anorexia – characterized by a relentless pursuit of thinness with an unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distorted body image with intense fear of gaining weight and extremely disturbed eating behavior typically involving severe restriction of caloric intake. Many types of severe health problems can result from anorexia.
Bulimia – characterized by episodes of eating large amounts of food with a feeling of lack of control over the eating followed by a behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise. Like people with anorexia, people with bulimia fear gaining weight, want desperately to lose weight and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape.
Binge-eating – characterized by episodes of eating an excessive amount of food during which a person feels a loss of control over his or her eating. Unlike bulimia, the binging is not followed by a compensatory behavior. As a result, obesity is very common amongst people who binge-eat.
The focus of our nutritional staff in supporting recovery from an eating disorder is on establishing an individualized plan tailored to the type of eating disorder that a client is experiencing.
For clients suffering from anorexia, the focus is on beginning to stabilize caloric intake in ways that maximize the likelihood of compliance such as working with the client to identify viable food options including exchanges. It is crucial that clients get all of the essential nutrients their bodies need in order to support healthy organ function, so we often include the use of nutritional supplements.
With bulimia and binge eating, we work to establish greater balance in the client’s diet and to reduce episodes of emotional eating. Primary goals include helping the client to develop a positive relationship with food and to maintain a healthy body weight through a diet that maximizes the body’s metabolic efficiency (balancing blood sugar and insulin levels so that your body can effectively manage fat).