How to Prevent Eating Disorders

How to Prevent Eating DisordersEating orders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are the most deadly psychological disorders a person can develop. The majority of cases are not diagnosed, until it is too late to avoid permanent health damage or death. Early diagnosis and treatment is second only to prevention when it comes to curbing the devastating spread of these disorders.

What Are Eating Disorders?

The brain manages all biological systems in the body including eating, sleeping, waking, laughing and more. The process of eating is controlled by a complex and intricate chemical system that tells a person when it is time to start eating and to stop eating. Feelings of hunger, cravings, satisfaction and fullness are all communicated through this chemical system. These functions happen in the same part of the brain that manages anxiety, impulse control, emotions, memories and the reinforcement of behaviors. If a person distorts this system through a refusal to eat, by eating too much on a regular basis or eating and then purging, he or she can alter this chemical system. Disordered eating reinforces destructive behaviors to the point that they become uncontrollable compulsions. The following are signs and symptoms of eating disorders to be on the watch for including the following:

  • Unwillingness to eat
  • Constant fear of gaining weight
  • Obsessive dieting
  • Secret eating
  • Binge eating
  • Purging
  • Unrealistic view of body shape
  • Dishonesty about food

Preventing Eating Disorders before They Start

The majority of people who develop an eating disorder are teens or pre-teens, so it is important that all parents strive for the following goals in the home:

  • Practice healthy eating and a balanced diet
  • Appreciate all body types
  • Resist the temptation to judge others based on their weight
  • Be critical of media and entertainment that promotes unrealistic body image
  • Strive for health and fitness rather than thinness
  • Don’t categorize foods as good or bad, safe or dangerous and embrace balance instead
  • Choose to value yourself and your body verbally and promote respect for all body types
  • Study and learn about eating disorders, their causes and their cures

Get Help for Eating Disorder Treatment or Prevention

If you have questions about preventing eating disorders or concerns about the relationship you or someone you love has with food, call our toll-free helpline any time of day or night. Our counselors are always available to answer your questions and to connect you with any needed resources or treatment options. The best time to deal with a budding eating disorder is today, so don’t hesitate to get help. Pick up the phone, and let us help you discover a bright road toward a future free from eating disorders.