Nourished Not Deprived Services

Eating and Food Issues

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Eating disorders are a group of mental health conditions that are characterised by unusual eating habits, obsessiveness about the weight, body shape and food. These disorders can have serious physical and emotional consequences if left untreated. In this educational piece, we will discuss the management of eating disorders and various treatment options that are available to affected individuals.

Management of Eating Disorders:

Managing eating disorders involves several things. Both the individual and their family should be educated about the disorder and ways to manage it. The primary care physician is the first point of contact, and a referral to a therapist, eating disorder specialist, or medical nutritionist may be necessary. These professionals create an individualized treatment plan with the client.

The first step is to establish a specified eating pattern by enforcing regular meals, and avoiding dieting or fasting. Families may also assist by preparing meals and eating with loved ones who may fear to eat alone. A dietician can help develop a balanced and nutritious meal plan, while a therapist can assist the individual to learn more about coping strategies for triggers.

Psychotherapy:
Psychotherapy consists of seeking help from mental health specialists to ensure the mental health of individuals suffering from eating disorders. The purpose of psychotherapies is to recognize the underlying emotional problems responsible for causing and perpetuating the disorder’s behaviour patterns. By targeting the root cause of the behaviour, individuals can receive intensive support to manage their relationship with food and body image.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is another treatment option that goes hand in hand with psychotherapy. It aims to identify patterns of thinking that lead to disordered eating, allowing individuals to recognize their triggers and find healthier methods of coping.

Medications:
Medications are generally not the central part of treatment for eating disorders, but often used to control symptoms that accompany them. Antidepressants may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of bulimia nervosa, but they do not assist with weight gain or eating disorders themselves.

Antipsychotics may be useful in treating other mental disorders co-occurring with eating disorders. Pharmacological products to treat binge eating disorder have also entered the market, with great efficacy.

Conclusion:
Eating disorders are serious conditions that can lead to dangerous outcomes if left untreated. Treatment typically entails a collaborative process with healthcare providers, family, friends and the patient themselves involved in management. Psychotherapy and Cognitive-behavioural therapy have been identified as some of the most effective methods of treating eating disorders, with or without the use of pharmacological products. The earlier an individual enters treatment, the easier it is to manage and recover, so it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as symptoms appear.

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