Eating disorders are a range of disorders that involve severe disturbances of eating behaviors with associated troubling thoughts and emotions. These are serious mental and physical illnesses that are estimated to affect up to 5% of the population.
Preoccupation with food, weight, and body shape and/or size, and anxiety about eating or the consequences of eating are all hallmarks of an eating disorder. Binge eating, restrictive eating, avoidance of specific foods or food groups, and purging through vomiting, compulsive exercise or laxative abuse are common behaviors associated with eating disorders.
The three eating disorders most people have heard of are anorexia nervosa (characterized by calorie restriction and weight loss), bulimia nervosa (characterized by cycles of bingeing and purging), and binge eating disorder (characterized by episodes of bingeing). However, there are many other eating disorders that are less commonly discussed, such as orthorexia (characterized by an obsession with healthy eating).
The cause of eating disorders is most likely a complex blend of cultural/societal, psychological, and biological factors. Some studies show that genes and heredity may increase the risk of these disorders. Eating disorders also commonly occur with other psychiatric conditions like alcohol and drug abuse, mood and anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Eating disorders can cause severe damage to every organ system in the body. Consequences of malnutrition or purging behaviors can be life-threatening. It can be difficult for them to admit they need it due to denial about their condition, but it is imperative that people struggling with an eating disorder seek professional help. In fact, the earlier they seek treatment the greater the chance they will recover physically and emotionally.
Treatment must address the psychological, cultural, and behavioral issues associated with the disorder along with nutritional and medical issues. There are differing approaches to treatment and there is no one approach that works for everyone with an eating disorder. Members of a treatment team may include medical and dental professionals, mental health professionals, and a registered dietician.
Physical touch has been shown to help in the treatment of eating disorders. The gentle touch used in Bio-Touch can be an extremely effective complement to any eating disorder treatment plan. The holistic nature of this method addresses mental, emotional, and physical health, all of which are affected by eating disorders.
The information presented here is for educational purposes only. Medical advice is neither offered nor implied. Please consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.