Eating disorders are serious medical conditions that can dramatically affect a person’s self-esteem and overall health. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent eating disorders.
When a person has an eating disorder, her view of food and weight are often skewed. An individual with an eating disorder may literally starve herself because she thinks she’s fat, or she may eat abnormal amounts of food and then make herself vomit. Often, a person with an eating disorder finds it very difficult to return to a normal pattern of eating. Left untreated, however, an eating disorder may lead to permanent body damage or even death. Typically, eating disorders are much easier to prevent than they are to treat. Here are some good ways to help prevent eating disorders:
1. Be Aware
Learn about eating disorders and what causes them. Learn about the consequences of living with one as well. If you understand the attitudes and misconceptions that surround food and weight, you may be less likely to develop an eating disorder. This awareness may also help you to avoid encouraging dangerous food-related attitudes in friends and family members.
2. Redefine the Road to Happiness
It is dangerous to equate a certain weight or body type with feeling happy or complete. Likewise, seeing a particular diet as the ultimate answer to all of your problems sets you up for potential disaster. Find other things that make you happy, such as helping others, laughing with friends, walking in your garden, or even settling down with a good book. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
If you want to prevent eating disorders, it’s a bad idea to label certain foods as off limits or bad. For optimal health, you need to consume well-balanced meals. Avoiding one type of sustenance can start an unhealthy emotional tug of war with food, and can even stimulate cravings that could lead to binge eating. If you’re watching your weight, or a loved one is, don’t cross all carbs of the menu, for example. Instead, choose healthy carbohydrates and cut your portion sizes.
4. Drop the Judgments
Many people judge others by their appearance, often without consciously meaning to do so. You can help to prevent eating disorders by kicking the habit and encouraging others to do the same. Remember that a person’s weight, body shape and other physical attributes don’t indicate whether or not she has a nice personality or good character. Avoiding these types of snap judgments may help to prevent eating disorders and also boost your own self-esteem.
5. Reject Damaging Media
On a daily basis, you may see, read and hear television and radio images that support the idea that a person should be thin no matter what. You’ll find such messages on billboards, in newspapers and in magazines too. Often, they feed into the connection some people make between weight and happiness. Don’t be afraid to speak out against damaging advertisements. Write a letter to the editor of the magazine or the manufacturer of the product in the advertisement. Speak out against ads that encourage dangerous views about weight and food. Lastly, go ahead and turn the TV or radio off if a commercial or program bothers you or a loved one.
If you believe you or a loved one may be at risk for developing an eating disorder, contact a doctor for help. There are many ways a doctor can help before the problem gets serious. If you have legitimate weight loss concerns, a nutritionist may suggest ways to lose weight without damaging your health.