Eating Disorder Treatment Center

An eating disorder treatment center is a facility that provides medical and psychological care to people who are suffering with such illnesses as anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating. Most of the patients are teenage girls and young women who have an unrealistic mental picture of what they look like. Instead of seeing themselves as others do, people suffering with these kinds of disorders see themselves as being overweight and unattractive. No matter how skinny, even skeletal, their bodies become, those afflicted with disorders think of themselves as obese. The unrealistic body image becomes such an obsession that the individual begins unhealthy dieting habits that lead to starvation or bingeing. According to one nonprofit organization that specializes in this issue, victims of anorexia engage in self-starving. These girls simply refuse to eat. Bulimia refers to the practice of bingeing (eating to excess) and then making oneself vomit the food. Obviously, both these practices and other disorders are dangerous and create additional physical problems. The professionals at an eating disorder treatment center can help those who have found themselves unable to eat because of anorexia or caught in a bulimic cycle.

These kinds of illnesses are sometimes brought to the public's attention when a well-known person or celebrity admits to suffering from one of the disorders. What researchers have found in the past few decades is that eating disorders isn't just about food. There are almost always deeper issues. In a culture that practically worships youth and a macabre skinniness, it's not surprising that teenage girls and young women feel inferior when they don't look like the touched-up, air-brushed modeling photos of their celebrity idols. Even when celebrities are admitted to an exclusive eating disorder treatment center, some girls will continue to starve themselves into size zero clothing. Instead of concentrating on body image, individuals are urged to consider Paul's message to the Corinthian church. He wrote: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). A young woman who has a healthy dose of self-confidence will accept that not everyone looks the same. Those who become obsessed with the unrealistic goal of fitting into size zero clothes or weighing less than a hundred pounds despite their height may fall prey to anorexia or bulimia.

The services of an eating disorder treatment center may vary from one organization to another. Even so, many of these centers provide an array of services to patients. For example, depending on the severity of the disorder, professional help may be offered on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. Severe cases may require residential care where the patient lives at the facility for several days or even weeks at a time. During a stay, or even as an outpatient, the individual often receives a personalized plan that includes both physical and mental treatments. Medical care may include such measures as intravenous feeding to provide the patient's body with needed nutrients and fluids. A nutritionist may provide a special diet that helps the patient gain weight or stop the bulemic cycle. Additionally, the patient may have individual sessions with a specially-trained therapist and/or participate in group therapy sessions. While at the eating disorder treatment center, the patient will be helped to deal with difficult and often painful issues in her past. She will, with the assistance of her psychiatrist, learn the coping skills she needs to end her obsession with food and the shape and size of her body.

Public education is playing an important role in bringing attention to the underlying causes of eating disorders. Teenage girls and young women especially need to be aware of the media messages that bombard them so they can avoid the pressures of excess dieting and focusing on food. Instead, people need to recognize that good health comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people have larger frames than others; some have stockier builds. Women (and men) are encouraged to seek health instead of an unachievable weight loss goal by eating healthy foods in adequate amounts and get needed exercise to maintain a healthy weight. After all, just because someone is skinny doesn't necessarily mean that the person is healthy. Educators at an eating disorder treatment center advise a simple plan: eat when hungry; stop eating when full. This advice teaches people to pay attention to and heed the hunger/full signals that the body naturally provides. Good nutrition comes from eating a wholesome diet of protein, fruits, and vegetables.

The website of a reputable eating disorder treatment center is an excellent place to find more in-depth information on this troubling topic. These sites provide detailed definitions for anorexia, bingeing, and bulimia, in addition to providing more information on how to combat the youth-obsessed media. Articles on body image and similar topics also can be accessed. Many nonprofit centers are also engaged in educational and research efforts as well as providing medical care to patients. In addition to educating the public, an important goal is educate policymakers about the devastation that anorexia and bulimia can cause to individuals and their families. Funding is needed to continue educational initiatives and to pay for research studies that will lead to improved treatments. An eating disorder treatment center often receives private contributions from corporations and grants from foundations. Government funding may be available through grants. Someone suffering from an eating disorder may not be able to admit to having a problem. Those who love that person are obligated to see that proper medical treatment is provided, no matter the cost.

Eating Disorder Therapy

Effective eating disorder therapy begins with an accurate diagnosis of the problem along with any other co-existing health issues. Unfortunately, such disorders as anorexia or bulimia often go undetected until additional physiological damage has occurred. Anorexia describes a condition where the person starves herself. No matter how thin she may be, this person cannot see herself objectively. Bulimia describes a cycle of bingeing, consuming excessive calories, and purging, attempting to rid the body of food. Prolonged anorexia or bulimia can lead to such life-threatening illnesses as bone loss, heart disease, or damage to the kidneys. A young person's growth may be stunted because of lack of nutrition. A woman's infertility may be a result of poor nutritional habits. Though it's true that teenage girls and young women are most affected by such disorders, men and older adults also can suffer from the condition. Neither anorexia nor bulimia is any respecter of persons. Once the condition has been accurately diagnosed, it's very important for the individual to seek eating disorder therapy to restore both psychological and physical health.

Early detection of anorexia and bulimia can help ease the recovery process. However, early detection is often hindered because parents and educators aren't aware of the warning signs. Many people also assume that someone who is extremely thin is anorexic. This may or may not be true. What surprises some people is that even a person whose weight is ideal or who is overweight may have an eating disorder. Another problem is that teenagers usually go through a period of being obsessed with their appearance. Parents need to know their kids well enough to distinguish between normal teenage self-consciousness and an unhealthy obsession. The latter requires eating disorder therapy and the sooner the better. The warning signs for anorexia include skipping meals and an obsession with counting calories or weighing portions. The person may consider even her favorite foods to be revolting or disgusting. Individuals with bulimia may eat a normal meal, or way too much. But then they disappear, often going to the bathroom to vomit up what they've eaten. Bulimics also rely on obsessive exercise, fasting, and laxatives to rid their bodies of food.

One word continues to pop up in a discussion of eating disorders and that word is "obsession." Appropriate eating disorder therapy can help the patient uncover the underlying cause of the obsession with food. It can be difficult to understand how a condition that revolves around food has so little to do with food. Instead, there are usually psychological issues involving control, shame, and helplessness. Cultural issues may also play a part, especially in countries such as the U.S. where youth is idolized. As the mom of every toddler knows, one person really can't control what another person does or doesn't eat. Obsessing about food and appearance is one way for an individual to gain a sense of power. Through treatment, the patient can learn about the psychological and cultural causes of anorexia and bulimia. She can also learn important coping skills to replace her inappropriate obsessions. There are a wide range of eating disorder therapy programs to help patients recover from their conditions.

Food has an appropriate place in our lives and, of course, is necessary for survival. But it should not be the primary focus for anyone. The apostle Paul wrote: "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them" (1 Corinthians 6:12-13a). Those with anorexia and bulimia need eating disorder therapy programs to help them get out from the power of what they do and do not eat. In severe cases, the individual may need to be hospitalized and perhaps even fed intravenously. But when disorders are caught in earlier stages, before too much physiological damage has been done, less desperate strategies can be recommended. Many patients are assisted through individual programs that include medical screenings, counseling, and nutritional support. Residential programs provide a sanctuary away from the outside world and allow the patient needed time to recover. In addition to an individual treatment plan, the patient may also participate in group sessions.

More information on eating disorder therapy programs can be found on numerous websites. Parents and educators can learn the warning signs of both anorexia and bulimia. Some sites provide important "do's and don't's" for family members and friends of those who are suffering from food disorders. These sites emphasize the importance of nonjudgmental compassion and the avoidance of blame. Again, it's so important for family members and educators to look for the warning signs to prevent additional psychological and physiological harm. Some organizations sponsor programs that counter the cultural image that equates beauty with skinny bones. These programs are especially helpful for susceptible young girls who need to learn that true beauty comes from healthy eating and appropriate exercise. Some professional medical groups conduct research studies to help improve eating disorder therapy programs and provide additional educational resources. These serious disorders can be treated, but the treatment takes time and persistence. Support groups can help both patients and family members cope with the illness. Online forums and chat rooms are available on some internet sites. These provide a way for people to discuss their situations with others in a safe, nonjudgmental place.

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