Psychotherapist – about anorexia and its consequences

Sometimes from a love of food to a real hatred of it is just one step. Especially when there are perfect pictures of indecently slender idols around. How to protect a teenager from anorexia and to instill the right nutrition model from an early age, psychotherapist Anna NAUMOVA told: “”

Euphoria on the scales

Zlata M., “”: – Anna A., how does anorexia occur? Who is at risk?

Anna Naumova: – Basically, these are girls aged 15-25. In medical terms, anorexia nervosa is a mental eating disorder deliberately caused by the patient weight loss for the sake of losing weight.

There are several reasons for the occurrence of the disease. Of course, first of all, society. The impact of social media on people, especially teenagers, is huge. Everywhere users see perfect pictures – girls and boys with beautiful faces and figures.

Not everyone can understand that a fictional ideal can be created with Photoshop. A teenager compares himself to a picture and thinks: “I’m not like that. We need to fix this.”

Of course, the sometimes very aggressive teenage environment can also become a starting point. A person in it becomes an object of persecution; he develops anxiety, self-doubt, and isolation. This is also a “trigger” for anorexia nervosa.

The child begins to avoid food: he does not enter the kitchen where they cook, does not sit down at the common table, begins to divide food into small pieces and eat them in several doses, and loses weight dramatically. This is a very worrying sign.

The family environment plays a huge role. A teenage girl’s figure changes due to puberty, and her mother says: “Enough eating! No one will marry!”

In addition, it is customary for us to punish or reward children with food. For example: “You are great today! Hold the candy! Or: “You are punished; you are left without sweets!”

It seems that this is fundamentally the wrong behavior of parents: food should not be a means of manipulation. It also affects the development of eating disorders. And this, by the way, can be anorexia but also bulimia, compulsive overeating: a person consumes food immoderately and then causes vomiting.

– Patients with anorexia, they say, can eat half a banana and drink a glass of water a day. Isn’t the growing teenager tormented by hunger, doesn’t the instinct of self-preservation turn on?

– In patients with anorexia, a critical attitude towards their condition is erased. The girl weighs 30 kg with a height of 170 cm. Still, in the mirror, she sees herself as fat, unworthy to eat today. Anorexics can experience a feeling of euphoria when they see on the scales that their body weight is decreasing. Strong hunger arises in them, but then it is dulled by an unhealthy desire to lose weight further.

To the kitchen – not a foot

– How to understand that a teenager has problems with eating behavior and, perhaps, he has anorexia?

– The child begins to avoid food: he does not enter the kitchen where they cook, he does not sit down at the common table, he begins to divide food into very small pieces and eat them in several doses, and he loses weight dramatically. It is a very alarming sign if you find diuretics or laxatives in a child, and he regularly takes them.

Pay attention to which groups in social networks your child is a member of. Perhaps they are dedicated to extreme weight loss. Sometimes some curators encourage children the pursuit of unhealthy beauty.

There is a category of anorexics who eat very little but begin to cook a lot and feed their loved ones. Sometimes a teenager’s increased interest in cooking, combined with a strict diet, is also a reason for parents to wonder if everything is fine.

– If mom and dad realize the child has problems, where to go with it?

– Specialists diagnose anorexia if an eating disorder in a teenager manifests itself for about three months. Monitor the child during this period. Do you see the above symptoms? Go to a psychologist or psychotherapist together, and find the reasons for the changes in your relationship with food.

If the situation has gone far, hospitalization is needed. The saddest thing is that advanced cases of anorexia are not treated for a couple of weeks but from six months to two years. But the eating disorder also formed more than one day …

During treatment, the electrolyte balance is restored (the balance in the body of potassium, sodium, and organic acids), the hormonal background is normalized, and the calorie content of the diet is gradually increased. The patient, on average, should add up to 500 grams per week.

Of course, individual sessions of psychotherapy are also needed every day. It is also important that the anorexic is among people with similar psychological problems and participates in group psychotherapy. In the company of people with other problems – depressive disorders, schizophrenia, acute psychoses – it will be difficult for him to recover.

Unfortunately, and then anorexia nervosa can return. Sometimes patients need the help of psychologists and psychotherapists for a long time after treatment in a hospital.

Food is not a holiday

– Returning to the information field around teenagers: how do you feel about the body-positive movement? It’s basically about accepting your body…

– In my understanding, body positivity is when you accept your body but do not suffer from obesity. Obesity is also a disease.

Here, however, it should not be about excess weight but the fact that you accept the features of the figure given from birth: chest size, leg length, and hip shape.

– If a child, for example, is genetically inclined to be overweight, how can instill in him the right nutrition model?

– In fact, there is no such thing as a tendency to be overweight. If there is a cult of healthy food in the family, no one overeats, and they go in for sports, why should the child get fat? Unless he secretly buys fast food from his parents with his pocket money …

When everyone in the family is slender, and the child, eating normally, begins to gain weight, you need to contact a gastroenterologist. Perhaps he has health problems, and a patty for dinner or one candy daily leads to weight gain.

A big mistake is to put children on a diet while continuing to eat wrong. This also causes psychological trauma to the child. Here we all ate together, and now let’s eat separately, and we will continue…

The diet of the child should not be drastic restrictions. Everything can be eaten in small quantities.

And I would advise not to present food as a holiday: birthday – let’s order pizza or sushi and eat …

Then the child will perceive junk food as a way to arrange a holiday for himself daily.

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