What does it mean to have an eating disorder?
Typically a person with an eating disorder will worry a lot about their weight and the foods they are eating.
Normally an individual has a problem with eating if their eating behaviour or their attitudes about food and weight are taking pleasure out of life.
If you, or someone you know, thinks they may have an eating disorder it is important to seek professional help.
Not all eating disorders are the same- generally they fall under one of three categories: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or FEDNEC (Feeding & Eating Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified)
Why do people have eating disorders?
There is no simple answer, there are multiple causes, and these are different for each individual. Commonly they are a combination of personal, physical, family and genetic factors. For some it comes from life experiences that make a person emotionally vulnerable and sensitive about their weight and shape.
Eating disorders and exercise.
While eating disorders can be linked with excessive, or compulsive, exercise; could guided exercise help the recovery from eating disorders?
The University of Florida conducted a study on the efficacy of exercise in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Heather Hausenblas, an exercise psychologist at the University, explains their findings:
“When it comes to eating disorders, exercise has always been seen as a negative because people use it as a way to control their weight. But for most people, exercise is a very positive thing,” Hausenblas said. “Our results show it’s not necessarily bad for people with disordered eating to engage in exercise. The effects on self-esteem, depression, mood and body image can reduce the risk of eating pathologies.”
Exercise most definitely has its place in assisting recovery from eating disorders, however it is important that exercise is implemented with the guidance of a trained professional.
How can a nutritional therapist help?
The role a nutritional therapist takes is to assist in restoring and rebuilding a healthy relationship with food. Getting back to optimal nutrition is a slow process, a nutrition professional can help devise a plan to get an individual recovering from an eating disorder back on track. They work to re-educate an individual on the importance of food and how to make informed eating decisions. They will also work with the person to break down any food 'rules' and bad habits which may have developed.
It is important to remember that the primary goal is not a large amount of weight gain over a short time, but to help the individual to learn a balanced outlook of food and nutrition.