Recent surveys have estimated that nearly five million Americans suffer
from some form of eating disorder every year. These aren't people who
occasionally have a wild weekend and overeat or skip a meal to fit into
a wedding dress. The five million Americans with eating disorders are
dealing with severe, life threatening conditions such as anorexia
nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, compulsive eating and obesity.
We live in a society built on body image. When there is a disconnect
between those images and our own self-esteem problems can occur with
the one substance we all can't live without: food.
People who suffer from eating disorders can ultimately turn themselves
around without any professional help, but nearly 20% of those people
don't overcome their disorder and end risking serious health
complications. On the other hand, half of all people who seek out
treatment for eating disorders achieve a level of complete recovery
with an additional 25% finding some level of success.
Finding Support for Eating Disorders
Too often people suffering with eating disorders do so in silence.
Their friends and family can see obvious changes in their physical
appearance, but the shame of the disorder allows the sufferer to
deflect and lie about those changes. On some level it is easier to
recognize a drug or alcohol addict then it is to recognize a person
with an eating disorder. That is why finding support through rehab is
essential to overcome an eating disorder. A person who can surround
themselves with experienced therapists and counselors will have a
stronger chance at recovery.
The first phase of rehab treatment is a complete medical and
psychological assessment. Although eating disorders are the general
category there are many specific types of disorders that affect each
patient differently. Only with a complete understanding of the
patient's history can an effective course of treatment be prescribed.
A patient who is finding help with a rehab facility will be working
closely with nutritionists and therapists to modify their behavior and
have them develop a healthy relationship with food. Eating disorders
are psychological in nature which means deep, introspective work needs
to be accomplished with the patient in order to get at the foundation
of the disorder. Most of this work is carried out in therapy sessions.
Whether this is direct patient to therapist talks or in group
counseling sessions, it is important that the patient feel they are in
a safe place. The rehab environment is equal parts structured and
As the emotional therapy work continues, the physical therapy involves
adapting healthy eating habits by developing nutritious meal plans.
This work isn't just about the food that is on your plate, but how that
food gets there. There will be lessons in grocery shopping and cooking.
These are basic functions for most people. However, for those in the
gripes of an eating disorder a trip to the grocery store can be a
traumatic event. That has to be dealt with and worked through.
Bringing in the Family
The most important aspect of eating disorder rehab is helping the
patient return to their daily routines. This will mean working closely
with family and friends to make sure the recovery can continue. If the
patient's environment is the cause of the disorder then obviously that
needs to be changed. The transition from rehab to outside life is
extremely important. This is where the potential for relapses exists.
As with any form of recovery, moving beyond eating disorders takes
time. With strong coping mechanisms and the support of loved ones, the
patient can get their life back on track.