What’s Eating You?
Let’s talk about what’s eating you. There is nothing new about eating disorders. Eating disorders are mental health problems with a detrimental physical outcome for both men and women, although women tend to be more affected in the population than men. People who suffer from this mental illness have a difficult time with weight management and it is not entirely their fault. Lack of education can be blame for much of todays problems including mental illness and weight problems.
There is too much emphasis regarding a person’s self-image and self-worth. When a person does not meet the “standards” set by society of what is healthy, beautiful, fit, and perfect, this leads to mental thoughts of shame, guilt, insecurity, depression, sadness, anger and so on. The media would like people to believe you must be tall, thin, and wealthy to be beautiful and everyone will want to be you.
The marketing ploy is meant to sell the product, but it affects the consumer on a psychological level. We need to understand what eating disorders are and how we can treat them to obtain proper health.
The eating disorders are Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, Binge-eating, PICA, Rumination Disorder, Avoidant or Restrictive Food Disorder, Purging, and Night Eating (Petre, 2017). A person suffering from Anorexia believes themselves to be fat and therefor restricts their dietary intake extremely and may also over exercise despite the low BMI. Someone who suffers from Bulimia will eat excessive amounts of food and excrete it through vomiting or use of laxatives causing diarrhea. Bing-eating is overeating foods and is usually categorized under Bulimia. PICA is more recent in mental illness and is the consumption of non-food items such as dirt and rocks. Rumination Disorder also a bit more recent than the classic Bulimia or Anorexia and this disorder is where the person has already chewed the food, swallowed but now regurgitates to repeat the process. Avoidant or Restrictive is the sheer mental belief that one must avoid foods or restrict caloric intake to lose weight, categorized under Anorexia (Petre, 2017).
Our bodies are deprived of the vitamins and minerals needed to function and to heal us when we have an eating disorder. Every day is a struggle for people that suffer from this type of mental illness. People have a distorted body image in their mind and feel as if they must look like the “perfect woman/man” that is projected in the media. Anorexic women can be bone thin and when they look at themselves in the mirror, they see a fat person. The emotional well-being is vastly affected in women more often than men. Eating disorders can lead to serious medical problems such as heart problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, dental cavities, dental erosion, low bone density, stunted growth and death (Staff, 2017).
Several treatment options have been developed over time, it is not simply a matter of nutrition education on its own. This must be tackled from the source first, the brain. Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral therapy with wellness and nutrition counseling is an excellent strategy (unknown, n.d.). Psychotherapy works on figuring out with the patient what the emotional trigger is behind the action.
This behavior can be changed over time then we can start to heal the body while working on weight management. This is where the wellness and nutrition counseling will come in. People with eating disorders have generally been suffering for many years and will need to learn that food is not the enemy. Weight management is difficult for many conditions, illness’ and disorders across the globe, but we must remember that we are focusing on only the mental illness called eating disorders. Weight control issues significantly impact social functioning and quality of life (Wilfley, 2011).
To get positive outcomes on weight management and CBT, a support group is utilized and includes family members of the person suffering from this mental illness. It is more about the way the person views the food than the food itself. A support group will encourage healthy lifestyle habits and provide a therapeutic outlet for emotional distress when faced with these new changes. This is not an easy process, nor a quick process, it will take time and effort. Certain foods do elicit stress, anger, depression and anxiety in a person’s brain. The focus would be put on whole foods that do not elicit negative emotions and confuse the hormones. Physical activity is well-known to lower stress levels and motivate our lymphatic system.
Foods that are high in Folate, Magnesium, Antioxidants and Vitamin C are known to lower depression rates in people (Mitchell, n.d.). Incorporating foods rich in Omega-3’s such as avocados and salmon will support brain health. Happy foods to elevate the mood and relax the body, for example turkey, cheese and eggs would contain Tryptophan. Foods that have probiotics to assist in gut health are found in fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi (Krans, 2017). What we eat directly affects our mental health as well as physical.
It would be advisable to avoid refined sugars, HFCS, Aspartame, starchy vegetables, GMO crops, processed foods, any food product with MSG in the ingredient list. Avoid meats or deli products that contain growth hormones, antibiotics, BHA, BHT and nitrates. Heavy metals go straight to the brain and interferes with the cognitive ability. Avoid tap water unless filtered through a filtration system, vaccines, cook ware, certain areas will have more concentrated metals in the soil, and foods that may have these metals in them. “Chronic low-level exposure can lead to a wide array of problems, ranging from neuropsychiatric disturbances such as aggressive behavior, memory loss, depression, irritability, and learning deficits, to physical manifestations such as liver and kidney dysfunction, fatigue, infertility, gout, hypertension, headache, and candida (yeast) infections” (Filidei, n.d.).
If you or anyone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, know that there is help available to you. This is a serious mental illness that can harm you. This occurs to people as young as 5 and as old as 65. Seek professional help and never give up hope.
Filidei, M. D. (n.d.). Toxic Metals and Mental Health. Retrieved from Safe Harbor: https://www.alternativementalhealth.com/toxic-metals-and-mental-health/
Krans, B. W. (2017, OCTOBER 16). Foods and Nutrients for Mania and Depression. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/foods-for-mania-and-depression
Mitchell, D. (n.d.). 9 Foods that Calm Your Nerves (and Mind). Retrieved from Naturally Savvy: http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/9-foods-that-calm-your-nerves-and-mind
Petre, A. M. (2017, September 28). 6 Common Types of Eating Disorders (and Their Symptoms). Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-eating-disorders
Staff, M. C. (2017, July 14). Eating disorder treatment: Know your options. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/in-depth/eating-disorder-treatment/ART-20046234?p=1
unknown. (n.d.). Eating Disorders. Retrieved from NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders/Treatment
Wilfley, D. E. (2011). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management and Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents. . Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 271-285.