Tag Archives: nutrition

Summer Shines the Spotlight on Body Image Disorders

Yellowbrick Summer Body Image, Source: Shutterstock

Hot, humid summer days at the beach motivate many to exercise and diet.  Losing a couple of pounds to feel good while sporting a bikini or to fit into last year’s shorts ranks top priority on many young adult’s to-do list as the summer solstice approaches.  In moderation, and supported with a healthy amount of self-esteem and positive body image, counting calories and incorporating routine exercise helps young adults reach their fitness goals.

Obsessing over every bite, fasting for days at a time, or taking laxatives to attempt to flush out any calories consumed, some will never reach their ideal size, even if others view them to be slender.  For these young adults, a poor body image and lack of self-worth often leads to the development of an eating disorder.  Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, as described in detail on National Eating Disorders Association, are serious mental health illnesses.

Oftentimes, poor body image and low self-worth are derived from painful life experiences which have left the individual struggling for identity and a sense of power and control in their life. Histories of neglect, loss, and trauma are common. Many eating disorders stem from a history of bullying or abuse.  Young adults may binge on food instead of coping with complex emotions.  Others feel empowered by skipping meals and watching the pounds drop from their frail frames.

Summer triggers dangerous patterns with food.  Signs like extreme weight loss, starvation, social anxiety over shared meals, self-induced vomiting, and secretive eating point towards poor body image and eating disorders.  When lack of self-confidence in one’s body image turns into an unhealthy obsession, young adults are at risk and need professional help.

The Yellowbrick Life Strategies Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) supports young adults suffering from a subpar perception of their own body image and eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating as summer shines the spotlight on body image disorders.  The Life Strategies IOP curriculum combines group and individual psychotherapy to unveil root causes of poor body image while providing education on nutrition and the opportunity to overcome social anxiety by holding support groups during meal times.  In addition, young adults explore supplemental activities like art and yoga, both known to facilitate mind-body connection and build healthy practices for wellness and self-care.

Help a young adult develop a positive body image by adopting a healthy attitude and realistic expectations toward physical appearance.  Encourage exploration of safe and healthy activities like yoga, art, cooking, or writing so that young adults may figure out their strengths and interests and build up their sense of self, physically or otherwise.  As self-worth builds, young adults may be able to release deep, complex emotions hidden by their body image disorder and move forward in recovery.

Changing Eating Habits At Home to Help an Adult Child With an Eating Disorder

Healthy Eating Habits at Home to Overcome Eating Disorders - Yellowbrick: Source: Shutterstock
Parents might not notice a skipped meal here and there, but when an adult child displays unhealthy habits pointing to an eating disorder, parents need to pay attention.  Overly obsessing about every bite, displaying severe anxiety over sharing meals with friends or family, taking laxatives frequently, or being constantly concerned about cardio exercise are signs an adult child may be having a tough time and suffering with an eating disorder. The National Institute of Mental Health gives detailed descriptions of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

Changing eating habits at home to help, like incorporating family meal times, cooking together, taking trips to the farmers market, and facilitating discussion on nutrition, is a good start in helping an adult child with an eating disorder. When families eat meals together, children of all ages develop and maintain healthy habits and gain self-esteem.  Parents should consider their own approach toward physical appearances and relationships with food. However, trying to solve the problem at home may not be enough to sustain a long term healthy lifestyle for parents with children who have eating disorders. Eating disorders may focus on food, weight and body appearance but are about emotional sufferings in relationship to self and others.

An eating disorder may be a sign or symptom of a larger, more complex problem. For example, a young adult might binge eat to avoid feeling emotions that hurt, like anger, fear, sadness, or guilt. Many young women starve themselves, aiming to be supermodel skinny, while others binge, purge, and become addicted to laxatives. Often times, young adults with an eating disorder have faced trauma including violence, sexual abuse, or bullying.  Inner conflicts like low self-esteem or feeling scared and victimized, need to be settled so that young adults may develop a healthy relationship with their body and with food. Coming up a with a wellness plan, as a comprehensive effort, including the expertise of doctors, nutritionists, and psychologists, may be the best way to help a child with an eating disorder. This plan must include explanation of the meaning of the eating disorder struggle, often a search for how to resolve paradoxes over how to find nurturance while also being separate and empowered.

Eating disorders are deeply ingrained behavioral patterns that negatively impact the relationships one has with food and self-image. The body and mind suffer greatly from eating disorders. At Yellowbrick, eating disorders are treated with a multifaceted approach when an individual enters the Intensive Outpatient Eating Disorder Service. After an initial assessment, proper nutrition and medical interventions are made. Then, Yellowbrick clinicians focus on the behaviors associated with the eating disorder and deep psychological problems rooted in the individual. Program participants journal daily to sort through their feelings, track their nutrition, and discover the core causes of their eating disorders.  Through meaningful relationships with caring clinicians, young adults with eating disorders adapt to healthy patterns while receiving intensive support services throughout their recovery.  Learn more about how to help an adult child with an eating disorder.

Noticing the signs of an adult child with an eating disorder is the first step on the road to recovery. Addressing eating disorders early may save lives as anorexia has the highest mortality of any psychiatric illness.  Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating may be a surface symptom of a serious underlying struggle.  Coming up with a wellness plan that includes the knowledge, expertise, patience, and care of medical and mental health professionals may be the best way to help an adult child with an eating disorder.