Category: Adults

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Summertime: Why This Season Is Stressful for People with Eating Disorders

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. This season is a perfect time for some fun in the sun. Many of the country’s beaches are open to the public.

Not everyone, however, is looking forward to the new season.

Apart from the ongoing global pandemic that’s limiting everyone’s fun, summer is a dreadful season for people with eating disorders and those undergoing eating disorder treatments.

Here’s why summer may be a difficult time for individuals with disordered eating:

The Influence of Social Media

During summer, social media users are bombarded with ads containing the seemingly perfect summertime photos of beautiful men and women. These pictures may show models flaunting their branded swimsuits, partying with friends, and having a grand time at the beach or pool.

Unfortunately, these images may evoke desires for unrealistic body figures, social comparisons, and feelings of isolation or missing out. These could trigger depression or relapse for people with eating disorders. Individuals with this condition may think that their body will never be good enough to achieve the “ideal summer body” that they see on social media.

Swimsuits and Body Image

People often associate the words “summer” and “beaches” with less clothing. The pressure to wear bikinis, swimming trunks, tank tops, and board shorts may trigger a range of eating disorder symptoms for men and women with binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. They may feel ashamed of how their body looks and turn to harmful food behaviors, such as crash dieting, to achieve the figure they want.

The Transition to an Unstructured Schedule

This is most applicable to students who follow a highly structured schedule. When people are on summer vacation, they have more time on their hands to do just about anything.  The lack of a structured schedule may affect the healthy routines of people recovering from eating disorders. They can, for instance, forget about following set meal plans.

On the other hand, a summer chock-full of fun activities and trips may be detrimental to people with eating disorders. The stress of doing too much may cause a relapse, anxiety, or depression.

eating disorder

How People with Eating Disorders Can Cope During Summer

Summer fun and relaxation is still possible even for individuals with these conditions. If you’re worried about summer derailing your recovery-oriented goals, take note of these guidelines:

  • Spend time with people who love and trust you. They can serve as your go-to persons and support beams when summer becomes too stressful for you.
  • Determine what you’re going to eat ahead of time if you’re attending summer parties or gatherings.
  • Lay off social media pages and magazines. As much as possible, avoid looking at photos, articles, or posts that feature bikini selfies and “beach-ready bodies.”
  • Maintain a structured schedule even if you’re on summer break.

If you need further assistance, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health is here to help you break free and live free from eating disorders. We offer a range of treatment programs, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for patients of all ages in Westport. Our team of psychiatrists will help you manage your condition and walk with you on your journey to long-term recovery.

Schedule an appointment today by filling out our contact form.

Woman in bath tub

Eating Disorder Treatment: Why Integrate Nutrition Education and Therapy?

The number of people suffering from eating disorders continue to grow in the US. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), over 30 million Americans of all genders and ages struggle with an eating disorder.

Women are more susceptible to eating disorders than the opposite sex. Studies prove that females are more likely to experience extreme body dissatisfaction. This is caused largely by societal pressures on women, holding them to higher standards of beauty. These standards are often too high, causing girls to have warped perceptions of themselves.

Body Dissatisfaction

Body dissatisfaction starts at an age earlier than most people would expect. Almost 46 percent of American adolescents have negative perception of their bodies. This mindset can persist until they’re 30. Eating disorders aren’t the only consequence of a negative body image. The risk for poor mental health, obesity, and other serious problems also increase.

This is why it’s important to establish a positive relationship with food early on. Healthy habits make the patient feel more at peace with how, what, and how much they eat, helping them spot toxic practices or thoughts immediately.

A healthy relationship with food is also integral to different kinds of eating disorder treatments. It helps break the mindset of associating self-worth with eating habits and weight.

The Importance of Nutrition Education

Many eating disorder therapies involve dietitians, nutritionists, and other similar professionals. They help the patient better understand their condition as well as unpack and analyze their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors regarding food and weight.

Together, the medical professionals and the patient will develop a concrete plan to establishing habits that allow the latter to eat normally again. This means being free from guilt, fear, anxiety, obsessive thinking, and compensatory behaviors (excessive exercise or purging) before, during, and after eating.

Nutritional therapy also covers proper diet and exercise. The patient will learn to choose the food they consume based on its nutritional value, balance diet with exercise, and maintain a healthy weight without risking overall well-being.

Nutrition education also involves some degree of psychotherapy. It helps the patient relearn the internal cues for hunger and fullness. These biological responses may have been suppressed for patients of eating disorders, especially those who force themselves to starve, purge, or overeat past the point of comfort. Relearning these natural cues is important to establishing regular eating habits.

The goals of nutrition education are summarized in the following:

  • Work toward a healthy weight in a healthy way
  • Recognize how the eating disorder and the unhealthy habits that come with it cause nutrition issues and physical conditions
  • Practice meal planning
  • Establish a regular eating pattern – three meals a day with snacks
  • Eliminate extreme dieting, purging, starving, and bingeing behaviors
  • Correct or mitigate health problems due to obesity or malnutrition

The first step to getting better is asking for help. Whether it’s you or your loved one, work with a professional who can help unpack, analyze, and address the eating disorder.

Overcome Eating Disorders at the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health (CCBH) in Westport provides a range of treatments for those with eating disorders. Our team works with you to gain the capacity and confidence to manage the symptoms of your conditions. By evaluating your specific conditions and needs, we’ll create a nutrition education plan that replaces your unhealthy eating habits with positive ones.

Begin healing with us today. Set an appointment with us by filling out our contact form or calling 1-888-745-3372.

Missed Meals: Elderly Anorexia and How to Help Your Loved Ones Deal with It

elderly man

Eating and anxiety disorders are the leading cause of death among the elderly, according to recent data from nutrition magazine Today’s Dietitian. The magazine also stated that anorexia nervosa is a significant factor among those fatalities. This is contrary to popular belief that eating disorders mostly occur in adolescents and teens.

Understanding the Disorder

Treatment of eating disorders should be taken seriously. The article noted that body image, a common cause of eating disorders in teens, isn’t much of a concern for the elderly. Instead, their anorexia is caused by both physical and psychological factors. These include changes in their sense of smell and taste, deteriorating brain function, and grief caused by the death of a loved one. These problems could escalate into more serious ones like depression. It may cause them to reject food either as a way to seek attention or to actively commit suicide.

A Prevalent Problem

A recent study published in International Psychogeriatrics showed that majority (over 88%) of the elderly with eating disorders had anorexia. The study also showed that these disorders usually came later in their lives. The researchers reviewed 48 papers about eating disorders among people over the age of 50. It showed that death was common among these cases, as there was a 21% mortality rate across all the studies observed.

The discussions above have shown that eating disorders, especially anorexia nervosa, are very serious illnesses that the older population suffers. Here’s what you can do to help your elderly loved one deal with their condition.

Let Them Open Up and Offer Support

If your elderly loved one has an independent spirit, they might not ask for help outright. Based on a research paper that detailed the physical factors that contribute to anorexia, these may include problems like eating alone, difficulty in getting and cooking food, and even ill-fitting dentures. Issues like these often hinder older adults from enjoying their meals.

You’d often hear your loved one say that they’re not hungry or they’d take a few bites and say that it’s enough. If this happens way too often, ask them if they’re having problems eating or preparing their meals. If they don’t acknowledge their problem, let them know that you’re there for them if they need any help.

It’s better to have them open up to you than to interrogate them about their eating habits. Intrusive questions that lead to arguments could cause them to spiral further into their disorder. Just make sure to keep your lines of communication open.

Getting Professional Help

When your loved one finally acknowledges that they’ve been skipping meals, you should get professional help immediately. Mayo Clinic suggests asking for help from a psychologist first to schedule therapy sessions. You should also see a psychiatrist for their medication.

A physician and a dentist should give your loved one checkups for any physical issues that might have emerged from their disorder. Ask their doctor to recommend a dietitian in Westport that can provide a nutrition plan for your loved one.

Anorexia is a frightening illness that some older adults have to deal with. It’s difficult to see them suffer despite your efforts to provide them with tasty meals. Remember that eating disorders are often accompanied by mental illness such as depression. Show your loved one that you care and are doing your best to understand. Let them know that you’re with them through their journey towards a healthy mind and body.

Getting Much-Needed Therapy

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are often difficult to treat without therapy. The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health gives comprehensive treatment plans for patients with these conditions. The plans are made to help people manage their desire to binge or their lack of interest in eating.

It’s our goal to provide a safe and comfortable environment that supports your loved one’s mental healing. Know more about our holistic approach to therapy by contacting us today.

Woman using a fork to eat a pea

It Isn’t About the Size: Being Skinny Is Not the Sole Indicator of Bulimia

Would you believe that someone could be battling bulimia even though they don’t look alarmingly skinny?

Bulimia is a serious, life-threatening illness characterized by binge eating followed by purging, fasting, or excessive exercise. It often goes undetected because the signs are not as blatant as the symptoms of anorexia, which manifests mainly in extremely low body weight. People with bulimia can still fall within the normal weight range and feel intensely unhappy with their body figure such that they desperately want to lose weight.

Bulimia Goes Beyond the Way a Patient Looks

People may stereotype patients with eating disorders as extremely skinny or stick-thin. This isn’t always the case, though.

Like other eating disorders, bulimia centers around an individual’s obsession with body image and weight gain. But bulimics may be underweight or overweight; their body size may still be average despite attempts to reach an unrealistic body figure or weight.

In fact, the condition might lead to the opposite of the slim figure that patients with bulimia desire.  The frequent consumption of high-calorie food, although routinely purged, may cause weight gain. Moreover, the condition might cause the abdomen to bloat.

Given this information, we can assume that detecting bulimia is not as easy as assessing someone’s body figure. Instead of just assuming that someone who looks alarmingly thin has an eating disorder, we have to pay attention to other symptoms:

  • Eating uncontrollably and purging after
  • Inducing vomiting after meals
  • Abusing laxatives or diuretics
  • Exercising to the point of exhaustion
  • Fasting or starving one’s self for long periods

Bulimia may also result in mouth-related symptoms, such as sore throats and dental problems.

Treatment will take a long time because the condition affects the physical as well as the psychological well-being of an individual. Treatment must also address other conditions closely linked with the eating disorder and body image distortion.

Bulimia May Not Occur Alone

Bulimia is already a serious condition, but it does not always occur alone. People with bulimia may also suffer from other conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety, depression, or substance dependence.

Patients with bulimia may also experience other dangerous side effects, such as stomach ulcers, a ruptured stomach, muscular fatigue, and constipation. Women patients may experience irregular periods. In the worst case scenario, the condition may lead to sudden heart failure.

To address bulimia and the other conditions linked with it, people have to be more open to the idea that not everyone with an eating condition is stick-thin. This stereotype is what leads to a potentially large number of undetected cases of bulimia.

Break Free from Bulimia

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health provides a bulimia treatment program in Westport, CT. We teach patients to identify and understand the reasons behind their eating behaviors so that we can help them develop healthy coping skills.

Our treatment plan lets you take back control of your thoughts and break free from bulimia. We know that the healing process does not happen overnight. So, we foster a safe and supportive environment that encourages you to heal mentally and physically at your own pace. Make an appointment with us, today.

Woman concern about weight

Eating Disorders Among Female Athletes are High

Female athletes thrive in a world where coming out victorious is vital. They go through rigorous training, proper discipline, and strict diet. Some, however, push themselves to their limits by excessively working out and controlling their diet. As such, the world of athletics shows alarming rates of eating disorders among female athletes.

Treatment for bulimia or anorexia in our Westport practice handles eating disorders with utmost care. We use a combination fo techniques that allows us to help patients maintain recovery. But first, we dig deep to understand the underlying factors that drive the disorder. With female athletes, the reason may be the environment.

Why Is It Common Among Female Athletes?

The sports culture encourages women athletes to stay in excellent body size or shape for flawless performance. It’s this culture that often triggers them in developing eating disorders, like bulimia nervosa (BN) or anorexia nervosa (AN).

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reports that almost 33 percent of Division 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) female athletes showed symptoms that place them at risk for AN. Additionally, 2.85 percent of female athletes have “a clinically significant problem with anorexia nervosa.”

The symptoms include the following:

  • Excessive fasting
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Binging
  • Purging
  • Fear of being overweight
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Obsession with training even when injured

Sports that emphasize the need to be thin can affect an athlete’s overall state of health. These sports include figure skating, gymnastics, and running. Eating disorders affect almost 62 percent of female athletes involved in figure skating and gymnastics.

The stress involved in athletic performance adds to the usual risk factors, like family history, making sports a breeding ground for mental illnesses. If you know someone dealing with eating disorders, it’s important to lead them toward a track of recovery through treatment.

Which Therapies are Applicable for Them?

Group therapy is a helpful treatment for female athletes. This kind of therapy can help relieve them from feelings of isolation, shame, or stigma. The sense of belonging helps them get through their condition, knowing that other people go through the same thing.

Family counseling can help, as well. A family can ensure the understanding and removal of potential negative influences in a person’s daily environment. When you have an athlete in the family or your circle of friends, give her the love and support she needs.

Coaches and families play a vital role in a female athlete’s life. As the people closest to the girl, analyzing and acknowledging the symptoms at an early stage can help – before things get worse.

Our treatment programs in Westport can provide the most appropriate treatment.

A Safe, Supportive, and Comfortable Environment

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health helps people with eating disorders, like bulimia, binge eating, and other conditions. We design comprehensive treatment plans to help patients cope with their urges, even after leaving the treatment center.

Our compassionate team of psychiatrists apply many psychotherapies, self-care methods, and recovery techniques. We practice a holistic approach to treatmeting, combining DBT with mindfulness psychotherapies. We also use relaxation techniques that help patients understand their emotions without the judgment.

Take control of your life or help a loved one do so. Contact us today to live free from eating disorders.

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The Mental & Biological Causes of Bulimia and Eating Disorders

A person diagnosed with bulimia (or bulimia nervosa) faces potentially life-threatening mental and physical risks, if not treated appropriately. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, only 1 percent of women and 0.1 percent of men in the United States have bulimia, but researchers dispute this as the real figure; like other mental health disorders, many choose to keep their condition a secret.

Bulimia stems from both mental and biological factors. If you or a loved one shows signs of bulimia, seek immediate medical attention to help treat the condition and prevent further damage to you or your loved one’s body and mind. Some of the symptoms listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 include:

  • Evidence of recurring episodes of binge eating (e.g., large amounts of food disappearing)
  • Evidence of purging and inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain (e.g., induced vomiting, laxatives, fasting, excessive exercise)
  • Uncomfortable eating around others, fear of eating in public
  • Stained teeth
  • Drastic weight changes
  • Self-injury, substance abuse, and other signs seen in mental health conditions

Different studies have found many causes related to bulimia, which stretches to both one’s physical and psychological health.

Emotional Stress & Mental Health

There is no specific mental cause for bulimia; one of the usual reasons is it is a coping method for emotional stress. Although it starts as a coping method, it quickly develops into an uncontrollable habit. Often, bulimia appears in a person along with other mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and others.

Body Image and External Factors

Many people find an irrational fear of weight gain and, as such, perform dangerous methods to avoid food intake and weight gain. Research has shown that environmental factors such as the media and fashion industry’s portrayal of beauty as well as sports or other sectors that emphasize weight loss affects one’s body image. However, while bulimia is linked to the fear of becoming overweight, researchers found it is more related to emotional and mental health.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always about one’s body image. Bulimia also stems from external problems. Problems such as within one’s family trigger some patients to develop bulimia, which is why studies have found involving parents in adolescent bulimia treatment are far more effective than treatment where the patient alone undergoes therapy.

Genetic Inheritance

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bulimia and other mental disorders seem to have a hereditary factor, as it occurs within families in between generations. Studies have not sufficiently proven if this is the work of people’s genetics or because of their shared environment, and it is a study worth investigating in the future.

Regardless of the cause, patients who have bulimia are at risk of several mental and physical disorders, which, if left untreated, can be fatal. Diagnosis is difficult because some people choose to hide their condition and symptoms. However, if they spot such symptoms, they should seek immediate care for their physical and mental state. The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health offers bulimia treatment in Westport that addresses the symptoms of the eating disorders, as well as their possible triggers.

Click here to learn more about eating disorders and their treatment today.

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How to Deal with Eating Disorder in Your Workplace

Eating disorders can affect anyone, even adults in the workforce. But you might find it difficult to identify whether one of your employees suffers from such problems.

If left undiagnosed or untreated, eating problems can cause serious health complications and can affect someone’s job performance. Fortunately, treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) help individuals overcome bulimia and other eating disorders. DBT teaches individuals new skills to manage negative emotions and reduce conflicts in relationships.

Now, the question is: how can you address eating disorders in your office?

Understand Their Condition

A good starting point would be to educate yourself. Eating disorders are serious problems associated with eating behaviors that have adversely affect someone’s health, emotions, and ability to function in daily life activities.

Eating problems usually occur when a person worries too much about body shape and weight because of social pressures. In America, a significant number of people face the challenges of these disorders.

The most common types of eating problems are bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia refers to consuming a huge amount of food followed by purging through forced vomiting.

Unlike people with bulimia, those who have anorexia tend to ignore food or only consume small servings of certain meals. They perceive themselves as overweight even if they are alarmingly underweight.

Watch Out for the Signs

Although it’s not easy to identify someone with eating disorders, there are signs to pay attention to allowing you to help an employee or coworker.

Individuals who have problematic eating habits are commonly obsessed with food, appearance, weight, and dieting. They admire thin people and feel envious of their thinness. This attitude may result in excessive weight loss.

Additionally, these people also try to avoid corporate events that involve food. You can observe that they withdraw from their co-workers and routine tasks.

In some cases, you may also notice evidence of binge eating. Others, on the other hand, head to the bathroom after eating to purge. They might also have scarred knuckles because of forced vomiting.

Talk About the Problem

If you have employees showing warning signs of an eating disorder and their performance starts to decline, try to have a discussion about it in a private meeting. Remember though not to make assumptions solely based on their appearance and to respect the individual’s right to confidentiality. You may also wish to bring in the human resources department to the conversation.

It’s essential to promote awareness and educate everyone in your workplace about eating disorders. A concerned and inclusive workplace allows for efficiency and productivity.

These illnesses can be life-threatening. So it’s crucial to pay attention to unusual behaviors that your employees show toward eating. Our Westport, Connecticut center offers comprehensive treatment plans designed to help individuals live free from eating disorders. We combine DBT with mindfulness-based psychotherapies and relaxation techniques.

We practice a variety of techniques that can help patients to heal in a safe and comfortable environment and achieve long-term recovery.

Contact us today to know more about our strategies.