Eating Disorder Awareness

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health.

February 22-28, 2015 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to highlight the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve general public understanding of the causes, triggers, and treatments available for eating disorders. Increasing awareness and access to valuable resources can encourage early detection and interventions.

The theme for this years’ National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is “I Had No Idea”. This theme hopes to recognize that early intervention is crucial and spotlight the diversity of those affected by eating disorders (men and women alike of all ages). Early intervention is a key component because it often increases the chances of a full recovery for those who seek professional help.

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The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorders, or other specified eating or feeding disorders. Identifying the early signs or symptoms of an eating disorder can greatly impact the course for recovery. Learn more about the warning signs of eating disorders below.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and extreme weight loss. This deprives the body of important nutrients that it needs for proper functioning. Health consequences from anorexia nervosa may include slow heart rate, low blood pressure, severe dehydration, and fatigue or fainting. Some of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa are:

  • Extreme or dramatic weight loss
  • Overly occupied with weight, calories, and food
  • Severe food restrictions (refuses to eat certain food groups or types of food)
  • Often comments about appearance related to weight  and exhibits anxiety related to weight
  • May develop food rituals (how many bites to eat or chewing each piece a specific number of times)
  • Avoids meal times and situations that involve food
  • Excessive exercise routines
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and usual activities

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of binging and compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. Electrolyte imbalances, tooth decay, esophageal inflammation, and possible gastric rupture are just a few of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa. Some of the warning signs can be:

  • Sudden disappearance of large amounts of food (or finding wrappers or containers from foods)
  • Frequent bathroom trips with or without the smell of vomiting or evidence of laxatives (packaging from laxatives)
  • Excessive exercise routines
  • Swelling of cheeks or jaw area
  • Calluses or scars on hands or knuckles (from self-induced vomiting)
  • Discolored teeth (or stained teeth)
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and usual activities

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the use of compensatory behaviors. High blood pressure, high cholesterols, diabetes, or musculoskeletal issues are a few of the health consequences of BED. Warning signs of BED may be:

  • Frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Eating to the point of feeling/acting uncomfortable

Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorders

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder. These can include:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
  • Bulimia nervosa with less frequent behaviors
  • Binge-eating disorder(with less frequent occurrences
  • Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
  • Night eating syndrome

 

If you’re wondering how you can become involved in raising awareness, consider educating yourself about eating disorders. Spreading the truth about eating disorders can help squash the myths and misinformation that hinder early intervention and recovery. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association (nedawareness.org or nationaleatingdisorders.org) for more information.

Talking with baby

Community Health Association of Spokane Valley Clinic

 

Did you know something as simple as talking to your baby can help them be more successful in school?  75% of your baby’s brain development occurs in the first 2 years of life.  You are your baby’s first teacher!  The more words they are exposed to during this time the better.  Simple things like telling your child what you are doing, “Mommy is making your bottle now,” and pointing out things you see, “Look at the big red ball,” help their language develop.  You may be tempted to turn the TV on and let your baby be exposed to language that way.  Unfortunately, studies have shown this actually makes their language development worse.  Instead, turn the tv off and talk directly to your baby throughout the day, making eye contact with them, and giving them a chance to respond.  This helps with language and communication skills that are needed throughout life.

Books and songs are another way to help develop their language skills.  Sing simple songs over and over again, and you will quickly see that they will begin to recognize the song.  Exposing them to books is a great opportunity.  You might find your 6 month old baby has no interest in sitting down and reading a book, but let them explore books.  They will probably start by sticking it in their mouth, but soon they will start looking at the pictures, and before you know it they will have their own favorite book.  Your baby may not want to sit on your lap and read the entire book.  That’s ok!  Flip through the book with them.  Point out different pictures.  Practice animal sounds.  Your baby will enjoy the time spent cuddling with you, while also building a foundation for their developing language and a love for reading.

By Ashlee Mickelson, Physician