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HEALTH INFO - Eating Disorders - Anorexia and Bulimia


ANOREXIA & BULIMIA

What is anorexia & bulimia?

These are eating disorders with an intense fear of gaining weight.
Anorexia means loss of appetite due to nervous/mental reasons.
Bulimia means to binge on food then purge due to nervous or mental reasons.
N.B. Anorexia is losing weight through not eating
Whereas anorexia nervosa is losing weight due to poor body image.

What are the causes?

An inability to see themselves as they are due to psychological reasons such as abuse or neglect. They are often perfectionists, possibly with obsessive of compulsive disorders/tendencies. They are often the eldest child & can be triggered by stress such as exams or performance at work. There is evidence to show that figures of these disorders are rising amongst gay men.

What are the symptoms?

Anorexia Bulimia
Feeling overweight/unattractive use of laxatives/diuretics
High anxiety high anxiety
High achievers/perfectionists/obsessive High achievers/perfectionists/obsessive
Often shy & introverted stress, loneliness
Low self-esteem & confidence Low self-esteem & confidence
Preoccupation with weight Preoccupation with weight
Denial, lying stealing/shoplifting to fund binges
Hair loss
gorging on simple carbohydrates e.g. sugary & fatty foods
Thin downy hair over body especially down spine Thin downy hair over body especially down spine
Constipation gum disease
Laxative taking hair loss
Periods stopping general fatigue
Malnutrition Malnutrition
Heart failure….death Heart failure….death
Impotence Impotence
Nausea Nausea
Skin lesions Skin lesions
Inability to absorb nutrients……so may suffer with associated illness Inability to absorb nutrients……so may suffer with associated illness
Confusion Confusion
Weight loss Weight loss
Depression Depression
Fatigue kidney failure
Anaemia Anaemia
Headaches due to low potassium levels in body Headaches due to low potassium levels in body
Over-exercise tooth decay (from vomiting)
  Periods stopping
  Sore throat (from vomiting)
  Grazed knuckles from catching them on teeth after sticking hands down throat.
  Eroded enamel on teeth due to vomiting so often
  Severe irritation of their intestinal lining

What are the effects of lost vitamins & minerals on the body?

Zinc deficiency which can be made worse by the pill.
B vitamins especially if on diuretics.
Reduced potassium levels causing headaches.
Calcium causing softening of the bones
Magnesium. These are the most common deficiencies, but they can be deficient in any nutrient.

What are the methods of treatment?

-Eating little & often (grazing!), cutting out sugars, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol
-Nutritional advice & support. Educating them about what they are doing to themselves & how they can correct it can help.
-Counselling or psychotherapy (i.e. some form of psychological support) is important. Often the patient feels out of control or has a poor self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence. So it is good to work with them to find out why they feel the need to redress the balance through this disease & find ways of helping them cope & heal. Reframing the way they think may be helpful. This sort of support is perhaps the most important of all, so ensure they find a good therapist they have a rapport with.
-recipes for fat/sugar free cake may help reduce feelings of guilt associated with eating.
-checks for food intolerances may be an avenue worth pursuing if the case is particularly difficult.
-support from friends, family & an understanding GP is very important.
-avoiding exposure to the media which promotes unhealthy & unrealistic body images. So watch out for magazines, papers, TV etc., & agree what to do about them.
-regular daily exercise.
-drinking adequate water; 2-5 pints a day depending on body weight & strenuous activity.
-plenty of fresh air & sunshine
-focusing energy on other activities e.g. tidying house, worthwhile job, voluntary work, clubs, hobbies/interests
-setting goals & obtaining support to reach those from supportive people around them.
-some people find religious/spiritual guidance helpful, but be aware of their gullibility.
-avoiding illegal drugs
-following a vitamin supplement plan to reduce the impact of malnutrition:
i.e. a vitamin & mineral supplement including 45 mg zinc, 250-500mg magnesium, 50-100mg vitamin B, 500-1500mg vitamin C per day. A liquid supplement is best because it is absorbed very quickly & has less chance of being vomited up or forced out by diuretics/laxatives.
-aromatherapy can be helpful in balancing their appetite, improve their self-image & help heal hurt by using oils to help with grief, control, anxiety, depression, acceptance, & clearing out emotionally. Oils that may be helpful are rose, benzoin, sandalwood, frankincense, mandarin, grapefruit & sweet orange. These can be used in baths, massage or applied to pulse points. Consult your professional Aromatherapist for more details.


The advice included on this site is not meant to replace any medicine or treatment you are receiving through your doctor, if you have any queries or concerns including compatibility with current treatment/medication, please contact us or speak to your GP


 

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