Month: July 2019

Skinny woman sitting on her bed

Losing to Win: Why Young Athletes are at High Risk of Developing Eating Disorders

Sports, especially team sports, offer several advantages for kids and adolescents. The frequent physical activity encourages a lifestyle that is centered on movement. Sports have also been found to increase cognitive ability because it encourages the production and release of endorphins. This gives young athletes the willingness to tackle problems head-on.

It’s not all good things, however; there is a dark side to sports.

Young athletes are under immense pressure to live a disciplined life to be able to and excel in their event. This constant push to be the best can negatively affect their growth and development. Young athletes, both children and adolescents, are susceptible to developing an eating disorder as a way to cope with the pressure. This is especially common for sports that follow set weight classes, such as endurance and aesthetic sports.

As their parent, you are in the best position to recognize the issue before it gets out of hand. It’s up to you to establish a support system for your child that fosters an environment where they are discouraged from developing unhealthy lifestyle choices for their passion.

Determining Possible Risk Factors for Your Child

Prevention is difficult when you don’t know what causes the illness. There are several risk factors that can cause your child to develop an eating disorder. Understanding these determinants will help you identify them in your child.

  • Preoccupation with body weight, size, and shape is common in the sports world. Excessive focus on these aspects should raise red flags, especially when it results in behavioral changes in your child, such as an obsession with their calorie intake.
  • Another warning sign is overexertion. Whether it manifests as additional hours in the gym or training beyond their coach’s recommendation, the need to work out more than usual might be caused by their need to lose weight or gain muscle.
  • For young girls, disordered eating often results in abnormal menstruation cycles. If your child has been missing their period or it is in the extremes (heavy or scant), it might be caused by poor eating habits.

What You Can Do

Although it might be difficult to admit that your child is suffering from an illness, acknowledging the problem paves the way to properly addressing it. As their parent, they look to you for guidance and support. Making sure they feel safe and loved will help them open up when you broach the subject.

  • Check in with their coaches.

As someone who interacts with them on a regular basis, your child’s coach has important insight on their behaviour outside of your home. Ask them if they have noticed any change in behaviours that might be indicative of an eating disorder.

  • Discourage negative attitude towards weight changes.

Promoting body positivity at home discourages an unhealthy obsession with weight. Since your child’s body is still growing, they will experience changes to their weight. Normalizing this will decrease the internal pressure to stay a certain weight and size. Moreover, work with their coach to find ways to accommodate weight changes so your child won’t feel inadequate in their sport.

  • Create a support system with the right people.

There is nothing wrong with seeking help from a professional. In Newport, treatments for eating disorders range from prevention to rehabilitation. Sometimes, outsider intervention is necessary to properly address the problem.

Getting Professional Help

Preventing eating disorders in young athletes requires the creation of a safe and supportive environment that addresses the issue at its core. We at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health provide treatment programs for eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating) in children and adolescents. Our holistic approach provides your child with the necessary coping mechanisms to help them with their urges even after treatment.

Get in touch with us today to learn more.

Man looking down

Bulimia in Men: Risk Factors and Treatment

Many people assume that eating disorders such as bulimia only affect women, but according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), in the USA alone, 10 million men will be affected by eating disorders at some point in their lives. Of those, approximately 1.5 million will have bulimia.

Bulimia is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by binging on large amounts of food in a short period of time and then purging to avoid weight gain. Purging can come in the form of self-induced vomiting, laxative and diuretic misuse, and excessive exercise.

Risk Factors

Body image pressure is one of the biggest risk factors of an eating disorder in men. The factors behind men’s dissatisfaction with their body are complex. Male weight and body image concerns are different from those of women – where women strive for thinness, men generally want to gain muscle mass. One important contributor to men’s body image issues is society’s portrayal of the ideal male body as being muscular and toned. This ideal is further perpetuated by the media and the fitness industry. Any attempts to attain this unrealistic “ideal” body often increases one’s susceptibility to eating disorders.

However, bulimia isn’t always about body image. Sometimes, men may develop bulimia as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, or other uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Both men and women report that bulimia provides temporary relief from their stressors. This is because bulimia is a maladaptive coping mechanism, as well as a mental illness. If left unchecked, it can lead to a variety of physical and mental health consequences, such as negatively impacting the growth and development of adolescent boys, and compromising the bones, heart, and endocrine system of adult men.

Treatment Considerations

Unfortunately, eating disorders in men are under-diagnosed and under-treated. Men get treatment for eating disorders less frequently than women do, likely because of shame, stigmas against mental health treatment, the myth that only women have eating disorders, or other stereotypes that make it hard for men to seek help.

For men, bulimia treatment in Westport and elsewhere requires a gender-sensitive approach. Some men may feel uncomfortable when they participate in a predominantly female treatment program. Because of this, all-male therapeutic groups are often ideal for men dealing with an eating disorder. These all-male groups encourage men to disclose their issues with their body image or with food with other men, thereby creating a space where they can help each other feel safer when revealing problems with self-image. Having men talk about their struggle with bulimia may also dispel the belief that it is a “women’s disease.”

One thing to remember about bulimia is that, despite popular notions, it does not discriminate according to gender, sexual orientation, sex, age, size, race, income, educational level, or ethnicity. Anyone can develop an eating disorder.

Whether male or female, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health will help you get appropriate treatment for your eating disorder. We treat a range of conditions, from eating disorders and anxiety to substance abuse and depressive disorders. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.