Eating Disorders Awareness Week
"Eating Disorders Awareness Week" is an initiative of the National Eating Disorders Association, celebrated annually in February, with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding about eating disorders, and promoting prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Eating disorders are serious disorders that affect a person's mental and physical health and are a public health problem worldwide. It is estimated that around 20 million women and men in the United States suffer from some type of eating disorder at some point in their lives.
These eating disorders are characterized by excessive concern about weight, body shape, and food, which can have serious physical, emotional, and social consequences. Eating disorders are not simply a problem of diet or lifestyle but are complex diseases that affect both the mind and body.
There are several types of eating disorders, however, the most common and well-known are:
Anorexia nervosa: an eating disorder in which a person has a distorted perception of their own body and a fear of gaining weight. As a result, they may drastically reduce their food intake and engage in excessive exercise, which can lead to extreme weight loss and serious health problems.
Bulimia nervosa: an eating disorder in which a person overeats and then tries to compensate for the excess food through vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or excessive exercise. This pattern of eating and purging can be dangerous to health and affect the person's quality of life.
Binge eating disorder: an eating disorder in which a person eats large amounts of food in a short period of time, with a sense of loss of control over their eating. Often, the person experiences shame and guilt after a binge episode.
In addition to these, there are other types of less well-known but equally serious eating disorders, such as rumination disorder (vomiting and re-chewing food) and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (drastic reduction in the amount and variety of food). It is important to note that eating disorders are illnesses that require specialized medical and psychological treatment.
Regarding their diagnosis, it is known as a complex process that should be carried out by a qualified healthcare professional. The diagnosis usually involves a comprehensive evaluation of the symptoms, medical history, and the person's eating history.
To diagnose an eating disorder, the healthcare professional will use specific tools and a variety of techniques, such as clinical interviews, questionnaires, physical tests, and laboratory analysis. It is also possible that a psychological evaluation will be performed, in which psychological and emotional factors that may be contributing to the eating disorder will be explored, helping healthcare professionals identify the disorder and establish an appropriate treatment plan.
It is important to note that eating disorders can be difficult to diagnose because people who suffer from them often hide their symptoms and behaviors. For this reason, it is important that healthcare professionals are trained to recognize warning signs of eating disorders and conduct a thorough evaluation to determine an accurate diagnosis.
As for its treatment, it can vary depending on the type of disorder and the severity of the illness. Typically, a combination of psychological therapy, medication, and medical treatment is used to help people suffering from an eating disorder.
However, the most common treatments for eating disorders are:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: It focuses on changing the patterns of thought and behavior that maintain the eating disorder. Through this therapy, individuals learn to recognize and challenge their negative thoughts about weight and food, as well as develop strategies to improve their self-esteem and confidence.
Nutritional therapy: focuses on restoring a healthy eating pattern. A nutritionist or dietitian may work with the person to develop a meal plan that meets their nutritional needs and helps improve their relationship with food.
Medications: in some cases, medications may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms of the eating disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive thoughts.
Medical treatment: in the most severe cases, individuals with eating disorders may require medical treatment in a hospital or specialized treatment center. This treatment may include the care of a team of healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and therapists.
It is important to emphasize that the treatment of eating disorders is an individualized process and can take time and effort. However, with appropriate help, many people can recover from an eating disorder and improve their quality of life.
There are several healthcare professionals who can treat eating disorders, including:
Psychiatrists: doctors specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, including eating disorders. They can prescribe medication to treat the symptoms of eating disorders and work together with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive treatment.
Psychologists: mental healthcare professionals trained in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders. They can provide individual or group therapy and work together with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive treatment.
Nutritionists: specialists in nutrition and diet management. They can work together with other healthcare professionals to provide nutritional advice and support in managing eating.
Therapists specialized in eating disorders: offer individual or group therapy to help people manage their emotions and behaviors in relation to food and the body.
Therefore, it is important to seek a healthcare professional who has specific experience and training in the treatment of eating disorders. However, here we present a small list of some organizations, medical institutions, hospitals, and foundations in the United States that are dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and research of eating disorders:
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. They offer resources and support to people with eating disorders and their loved ones, as well as training and education to healthcare professionals.
Eating Recovery Center: a specialized treatment center for eating disorders, with locations throughout the United States. They offer comprehensive treatment programs for adults and adolescents with eating disorders, including eating disorders and body image disorders.
Renfrew Center: a specialized treatment center for eating disorders and body image disorders, with locations throughout the United States. They offer comprehensive treatment programs for women and adolescents with eating disorders, including individual and group therapy, nutrition, and medical support.
The Emily Program: a specialized treatment center for eating disorders, with locations in several states in the United States. They offer comprehensive treatment programs for people with eating disorders, including eating disorders and body image disorders.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): a government institution dedicated to the research and treatment of mental disorders, including eating disorders. They offer information and resources on eating disorders and fund research to improve understanding and treatment of these illnesses.
We want to emphasize that the prevention of eating disorders is a long-term effort that involves the entire community, from parents and educators to healthcare professionals and media.
For that reason, here are some strategies to prevent eating disorders:
Promote a healthy relationship with food: From a young age, it is important to teach children and young people to enjoy food and develop a healthy relationship with it. This may include teaching healthy eating habits, such as regularly eating nutritious and varied meals, and not using food as a way to control emotions.
Promote a positive and healthy body image: Avoid promoting unrealistic beauty ideals. This may include education about body diversity and promoting the acceptance of all body shapes and sizes.
Encourage healthy physical activity: Encouraging people to exercise regularly in a healthy way, and not as a way to control weight or burn calories. It is important to promote physical activities that are enjoyable, safe, and suitable for each person.
Reduce the stigmatization of eating disorders: Promoting awareness and understanding of these illnesses. This may include education about the symptoms and treatments of eating disorders, as well as promoting empathy and support for those who suffer from them.
Address specific risk factors: Such as bullying, domestic violence, or social pressure, which can increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. It is important to address these risk factors and offer support and resources to affected individuals.
Eating disorders are a very serious mental health problem that affects millions of people worldwide, so society must continue to work to ensure that all those who suffer from them have access to adequate care and treatment to improve their quality of life.
Semana Nacional de Concientización sobre Los Trastornos de la Alimentación. Baptist Health. (2022, February 23). Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.baptist-health.com/blog/semana-nacional-de-concientizacion-sobre-los-trastornos-de-la-alimentacion/#:~:text=La%20Semana%20Nacional%20de%20Concientizaci%C3%B3n,hechos%20sobre%20los%20malentendidos%20de
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Los Trastornos de la Alimentación: Un problema que va más allá de la comida. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/espanol/los-trastornos-de-la-alimentacion
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, June 13). Trastornos de la Alimentación. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 19, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603
References, Centers, and Institutions:
National Eating Disorders Association
Eating Recovery Center
The Emily Program
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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