Healthy Body Image
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What do you see when you look in the mirror? If you hate what you see, you may have an unhealthy body image - even if you are actually at a healthy weight! Learn more about body dysmorphic disorder.
Transcript: During college, more than half of students - both female and male - worry about their body more compulsively...
During college, more than half of students - both female and male - worry about their body more compulsively than their classes. Your body image isn't necessarily an accurate reflection of your appearance. It's how you perceive your body, and how you feel about your figure. Body image is often intrinsically linked with what society collectively "decides" is attractive, an ideal that changes at a rapid-fire rate. In the roaring twenties, for example, society idealized women who had svelte, almost boyish figures. Meanwhile, the post-war 50s ushered in a curvy physique as the female ideal. Today, thin is in, and the typical model is a shocking 23-percent smaller than the average woman. Society's definition of physical perfection is difficult to achieve, and often requires decidedly unhealthy habits to maintain. On the other hand, it is possible for most people to attain a healthy body size, by exercising and maintaining a nutritious diet. As well, the most sustainable way to feel good about yourself is to try to align your healthy body size with your body image, although this is easier said than done. If that's something you find yourself struggling with, call in some backup, whether it is a campus therapist or supportive friend.More »
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With the media stressing the importance of looking thin and perfect, a number of females suffer from anorexia nervosa. Learn more about this disorder here.
Transcript: Is the battle to be thin compromising your health? It may be - Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality...
Is the battle to be thin compromising your health? It may be - Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. While most people think of anorexia as an eating disorder, in actuality, anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric diagnosis - one which describes the eating disorder we commonly call anorexia. Mentally, people with anorexia suffer from body image distortion, which makes them feel perpetually overweight, even when they are actually very thin. Because of this skewed body image, anorexics are continuously focused on attaining a low body weight, often severely limiting their food intake. Anorexics may also exercise excessively, abuse diet pills, or induce themselves to vomit in at attempt to lose weight. Sadly, continuously starving the body can be physically devastating. Over time, anorexics can experience low blood pressure, a slowed heartbeat, stunted growth, a weakened immune system, and tooth and bone decay. If left untreated, anorexia nervosa can lead to death as the body gives in to literal starvation. Some research suggests that people prone to perfectionism, depression, or anxiety may be more likely to suffer from anorexia, but there is no single cause for the disease. While 90% of the people who suffer from anorexia are female, and adolescent girls are the most likely group to be affected, the disorder still affects many different kinds of people. Nonetheless, women who participate in a job or sport that emphasizes body size, such as modeling, gymnastics or ballet, may also be more likely to be anorexic. Regardless of the cause, if you think you or a friend may be suffering from this psychological disorder, willpower alone is not enough to stop it. In fact, it's vital to seek immediate counseling and medical care from a doctor or your college's health center.More »
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Bulimia nervosa affects up to 4.2 percent of women in the U.S. If you find yourself needing to vomit after you eat, it's time for help. This video offers information, including help with bulimia recovery and more on other eating disorders.
Transcript: Bulimia nervosa is the most common eating disorder seen among college students. Could you be suffering...
Bulimia nervosa is the most common eating disorder seen among college students. Could you be suffering from bulimia? Bulimia is a complicated disorder, and many people who suffer from it are of a normal, or even slightly larger than normal, body size. This psychological disorder is characterized by an obsession with eating a large amount of food at once, often called binging. A binge is different than normal overeating. For example, during a binge, a person might consume an entire cake instead of just an extra piece. After binging, bulimics feel guilt, shame and anger about their actions. As such, they will purge the food from their systems, often by self-induced vomiting. Bulimics may also use excessive exercising, diuretics, laxatives, or enemas in an attempt to lose the weight from a binging session. But bulimia has a profound effect on the body. The acid from vomit can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and loss of tooth enamel in bulimics. Other, even more serious complications can result from repeat binging and purging like osteoporosis, kidney damage, heart damage, and even death. As with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia may be prone to excessive worry, depression, or perfectionism. Bulimics tend to have an unhealthy body image, but often appear of fairly normal size, despite the disorder.More »
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Know the signs of anorexia? What about the traits that signal another eating disorder? If you're worried about a friend's body image--and the lengths that she'll go to to look a certain way--watch this to learn the classic signs of eating disorders.
Transcript: According to one study, 20-percent of college-aged women and 1-percent of collegiate men suffer from...
According to one study, 20-percent of college-aged women and 1-percent of collegiate men suffer from an eating disorder. So just how healthy is your relationship with food? Although there are several different types of eating disorder, they all stem from the same basic issue - an unhealthy, unrealistic body image. Your body image is your perception of your appearance, regardless of what the mirror or other people have to say. If you are concerned that you, or a friend, may have an eating disorder, it can be helpful to know some of the common warning signs. For example, an obsession with food-eating way too much, eating scarcely anything, or constantly thinking about eating-is a sign that you may have a problem. Other warning signs include exercising to the point of illness, or using laxatives, diuretics or enemas to lose weight. If you have an eating disorder, you may become secretive about food, only eating in private or hiding what you've eaten. You may also find yourself talking excessively about your weight, exercising, and meals excessively. There also may be some physical signs that you have an eating disorder. As your body starves, you might notic...severe fatigue, constant feelings of coldness, a blueish tinge to your skin, a downy covering of hair on your body, thinning hair, and brittle nails. If you're female, you may also stop getting your period. If you notice any of these very serious symptoms, it's time to get help. Talk to a friend, a parent, or a doctor at your college's health center immediately.More »
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Over 10 million Americans suffer from eating disorders. View this video to learn about the 3 types of eating disorders and how they can affect our bodies.
Transcript: Eating disorders can affect anyone, from tweens in elementary school to celebrity personalities, like...
Eating disorders can affect anyone, from tweens in elementary school to celebrity personalities, like Victoria Beckham and Elton John. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, as MANY as eleven million Americans suffer from some type of eating disorder. Simply put, an eating disorder is a mental illness characterized by an unhealthy obsession with weight and food. Left untreated, these obsessions cause great psychological and physical harm. Generally, eating disorders are broadly grouped into three categories: anorexia, bulimia and EDNOS. ANOREXIA is characterized by an extreme fear of weight gain and a distorted view of one's body size. People with anorexia seek thinness by limiting their food intake, either with excessive dieting or outright fasting. They are usually exceedingly thin, to the point of looking sickly, and are often malnourished, yet still feel as if they look "fat." BULIMIA, meanwhile, is characterized by frequent episodes of serious overeating, or binging, which are followed by purging behaviors meant to compensate for the binge. For example, people with bulimia often force themselves to vomit, and may overuse diuretics and laxatives. Bulimics are less likely than anorexics to be very thin. Instead, they usually maintain a fairly normal weight. The third category of eating disorder, EDNOS, stands for "eating disorders not otherwise specified." EDNOS encompasses all other eating conditions. For instance, a sufferer may experience episodes of binging and purging, but may not do so frequently enough to warrant a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, or they may suffer from binge-eating disorder. Like bulimia, binge-eating disorder is characterized by intense and recurring food binges. But people with binge-eating disorder do NOT engage in purging. For this reason, they are often overweight or obese. Although society tends to stereotype eating disorder sufferers as adult females, these conditions affect ALL types of people. For example, the National Institute of Mental Health attests that MEN account for 5- to 15-percent of anorexics and up to 35-percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders aren't just an adult issue, either. Among children and teenagers, as many as two in 100 suffer from some sort of eating disorder. These figures are particularly scary when you consider the long-term-and often irreversible-effects of eating disorders. Externally, these illnesses can cause hair loss, tooth decay, bloating and, of course, extreme weight loss. And the INTERNAL effects of eating disorders are even more severe. Females with eating disorders are more likely to stop menstruating, and to become infertile. These illnesses can cause heart and circulatory problems ranging from anemia to cardiac arrest, and major organ problems, like painful kidney stones, and potentially deadly pancreas inflammation. A high percentage of people with eating disorders DIE without treatment, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. While this is disheartening, treatment options are both numerous and effective! Many people with these illnesses find relief from ongoing psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, and medical supervision. If you believe that you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder, PLEASE: Make an appointment with a doctor immediately!More »
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Anorexia is a dangerous eating disorder that leads to extremely low body weight. Learn about anorexia's consequences and anorexia treatment options.
Transcript: When actress Brittany Murphy passed away at the end of 2009, many wondered if her death could have been...
When actress Brittany Murphy passed away at the end of 2009, many wondered if her death could have been prevented had she sought treatment for anorexia. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely low body weight, distorted body image and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia severely limit their food intake in the hopes of lowering the number on the scale. Anorexics tend to become dangerously underweight and malnourished. Despite this, individuals with anorexia continuously want to lose MORE weight. Their distorted body image perceptions cause them to believe that they're overweight, DESPITE what the mirror and scale say. Because anorexics essentially starve themselves, the disease becomes more dangerous the longer it continues. Physically, anorexia leads to yellowed skin, bruising, bloating, thinning hair, and tooth decay. In women, the condition often causes the cessation of periods, as well as infertility. Even more alarming, anorexia can lead to kidney stones, or kidney failure as well as heart problems ranging from anemia to cardiac arrest. Without treatment, a high percentage of people with an eating disorder like anorexia will DIE from one of these complications. This is what many speculate happened to Murphy, who was very underweight at the time of her death at 32. This percentage drops when a sufferer seeks treatment! And that's exactly what celebrities like Mary Kate Olsen, Kate Beckinsale, and Victoria Beckham did when anorexia threatened THEIR lives. The first goal of anorexia treatment is to address any serious physical health issues like dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or heart problems. Then, it's important to get the person back to an appropriate weight. For individuals 25-percent below of their healthy body weight this involves between two to six months of treatment in an inpatient program. For those with non-life threatening anorexia, though, treatment can occur on an outpatient basis. Regardless of WHERE it happens, ongoing treatment for anorexia focuses on three goals: to take control of one's eating habits, to learn emotional self-care and respect, and to develop trust in the people who are trying to help. To achieve these goals, a team of health care professionals will work with a person suffering from anorexia. A dietician will help an individual gain a solid understanding of good nutrition and healthy eating. Generally, the dietician will also develop meal plans that include enough calories to help a sufferer gain weight. Meanwhile, a mental health professional will teach a person with anorexia to treat both food and body image differently. Some therapists do this through COGNITIVE therapy, exploring the unhealthy THOUGHTS underlying the disorder, while others prefer BEHAVIORAL therapy, where goal setting, relaxation exercises, and other healthy BEHAVIORS are taught in place of destructive ones. Family therapy is another method that is ESPECIALLY helpful for teens and children with anorexia. It's important to understand that while there is no medication to treat anorexia explicitly, that antidepressants may be prescribed to patients suffering from clinical depression in addition to their eating disorder. Like Beckinsale, Olsen, and Beckham, many people who receive anorexia treatment make full recoveries, though therapy and medical care may be an ongoing process for a lifetime. Regardless, treatment help ensures that anorexia does not take lives! So, PLEASE see a doctor immediately if you or someone you love is struggling with the disorder.More »
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For proper treatment of bulimia, it is vital that it be diagnosed early on and treatment begins immediately; otherwise, the effects of bulimia are dangerous. Find out more in this video.
Transcript: Pop-star and ex-bulimic Paula Abdul has called the condition, "a violent punishment you put on yourself."...
Pop-star and ex-bulimic Paula Abdul has called the condition, "a violent punishment you put on yourself." So how do people recover from bulimia? Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by cycles of binging and purging. The most common form of purging is defensive vomiting, but the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and over exercising are also regularly used methods. During a binge, a sufferer will feel out of control and consume vast quantities of food in a short time. Later, feelings of guilt and shame set in, causing a purge to begin. People with bulimia usually purge by forcing themselves to throw up, by misusing over-the-counter laxatives and diuretics, or by over-exercising following the binge. Despite their unhealthy relationship with food, bulimics often fall within their normal weight range. But this is never enough for sufferers, who tend to have very low self-esteem and body image and who want desperately to lose weight. The longer bulimia nervosa is permitted to continue, the worse the complications of the disease can be. The physical outcomes of the condition include: dry skin, tooth decay, muscle fatigue, and dizziness. The condition also leads to intestinal distress, including: irregular bowel movements, constipation, and a dependence on laxatives to have bowel movements. Even more severe, untreated bulimia can cause stomach problems, including ulcers, or even an intestinal rupture; as well as heart problems, ranging from irregular heart beat to heart failure. Without treatment, it's speculated that 10-percent of bulimics will die from complications of their disorder. That's PARTICULARLY devastating, considering that only 10-percent of people with eating disorders DO seek help. When treatment IS sought, it generally starts by addressing any major medical issues related to bulimia nervosa. These may include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or esophageal tears. After the BODY is returned to a stable condition, doctors focus on treating the MIND with psychological counseling. Generally, this takes place on an outpatient basis, but for some people-like Abdul-admittance to an eating disorder clinic is necessary. Regardless of where it happens, the preferred method of counseling for bulimia is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. During CBT, bulimics learn to replace negative THOUGHTS about their bodies with positive ones. They come to understand and reduce the personal triggers that set off the cycle of binging and purging. They also learn new BEHAVIORS, like eating three square meals and two snacks daily and developing a plan of action to prevent future relapses. As part of this therapeutic process, nutritional counseling with a dietician may be helpful. Often, therapy for bulimia is supplemented with prescription medication. The antidepressant fluoxetine, which is branded as Prozac, is the only FDA-approved treatment for this eating disorder. Fluoxetine has been shown to help sufferers improve their attitudes about food and body image as well as to help prevent relapses. Generally, this two-fold treatment approach is very effective, and many sufferers (Paula Abdul among them!) go on to make full recoveries. In some cases, though, treatment continues on and off for years, or even a lifetime. If you believe that you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder like bulimia nervosa, don't keep it to yourself. Instead, seek potentially-lifesaving treatment with a medical health professional IMMEDIATELY.More »
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Do you have recurrent sessions of eating uncontrollably and then stopping abruptly? You may be suffering from binge eating disorder. Watch this video to know if you're binge eating and how to get help.
Transcript: When she gained 75 pounds, then lost them as a Jenny Craig spokesperson, then gained them AGAIN, many...
When she gained 75 pounds, then lost them as a Jenny Craig spokesperson, then gained them AGAIN, many speculated that actress Kirstie Alley had binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a newly recognized condition that is actually believed to be the most common of ALL eating disorders. In fact, as many as 2% of Americans may be afflicted with this condition! People with binge eating disorder engage in recurrent, compulsive sessions of overeating, called binges. During a binge, sufferers will feel out of control, and unable to stop themselves from eating. Most individuals with binge eating disorder feel embarrassment, shame, and guilt about overeating. This means that many of them eat in secret, and even their friends and families are unaware that there is a problem with food. It's easy to confuse binge eating disorder with bulimia nervosa, which is ALSO marked by binges and guilt feelings. However, while bulimics PURGE the food they've consumed, people with binge eating disorder do NOT usually engage in this vomiting, laxative abuse, or excessive exercising. As a result, most binge eaters are obese, which means they weigh 20-percent or MORE than is healthy. Usually, this condition shows up in a person's late teens or early 20s, and it affects men as well as women. In fact, men make up 35-perecent of all binge eaters! It has been noted that almost half of people with binge eating disorder ALSO have a history of clinical depression. And people who overeat compulsively often come from families that put an unnatural emphasis on food as reward or comfort. As was the case with Kristie Alley, sufferers often have histories of dieting, then falling off the wagon. But, whatever the cause, binge eating disorder can lead to SERIOUS health problems related to obesity. These include: type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gall bladder disease and heart disease. Binge eating disorder is also related to headaches, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, and menstrual problems. The good news is that a combination of talk therapy and drug therapy CAN help! Psychotherapy for binge eating disorder focuses on changing both thoughts and behaviors surrounding food. Often, nutritional counseling is necessary to teach normal, healthy eating patterns. In addition, antidepressants, like Prozac and Paxil can help control the anxiety and depression associated with the disorder. With commitment to their treatment programs, people with binge eating disorder often overcome the habit of binging. That's exactly what Alley hopes to do in front of the cameras in her new A&E television show, "Kristie Alley's Big Life." But binge eating disorder is NOT entertainment. If you believe you or someone you love has a problem with overeating, please see a doctor!More »
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Body dysmorphic disorder can lead to anorexia and bulimia. Check out this video to know more about this mental disorder.
Transcript: Most of us started 2010 by resolving to lose five pounds or quit smoking. Reality star Heidi Montag...
Most of us started 2010 by resolving to lose five pounds or quit smoking. Reality star Heidi Montag began it by undergoing TEN plastic surgeries. Why? Body dysmorphic disorder, or BDD, is a mental illness in which the affected person is excessively concerned and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features. Depending on the individual case, BDD may either be an anxiety disorder or part of an eating disorder or both. BDD ALWAYS includes an excessive fear of judgment by others, as is seen with social anxiety, social phobia and some OCD problems; or alternately may be a part of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and compulsive overeating. People with BDD usually find one VERY minimal or even NONEXISTENT physical defect to obsess and distress over. The most common areas of concern include skin imperfections, like scars, wrinkles, and acne, lack or excess of body and head hair, dissatisfaction with facial features, particularly the nose or ears, and unhappiness with body weight or muscle tone. Because they believe that their perceived defects make them grotesquely unattractive BDD sufferers often turn to plastic surgery in the hopes of fixing their supposed flaws. This is what many speculate occurred with Heidi Montag, who was quoted as saying she was, "beyond obsessed" with surgery. The condition is ALSO widely believed to be the reason that the late pop star, Michael Jackson, engaged in so much cosmetic work. According to his plastic surgeon, Jackson had plastic surgery, "approximately every two months." But BDD doesn't just affect celebrities-it may affect up to 1 to 2.5 percent of the U.S. population! Although not all sufferers can afford surgery, most develop ritualistic behaviors around their perceived flaw. This often includes picking at the skin, constantly staring in the mirror, and excessive grooming. In fact, most people with body dysmorphic disorder spend between three and eight HOURS obsessing over their perceived flaw daily! Whether they are afraid to speak up in groups, or don't even want to go out in public almost ALL sufferers experience social problems due to their obsessions and fears. This could be why Heidi Montag engages in such tumultuous relationships with ex-friends and her husband, Spencer Pratt. No one knows for sure what causes these symptoms of BDD, but the disorder has a higher occurrence amongst people with other mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. Many people with body dysmorphic disorder report taunting and criticism from parents or peers in childhood. It may be that the constant pressure of his father, Joe Jackson, helped drive young Michael to his condition. But no matter why it occurs, doctors DO agree that BDD is dangerous. In fact, as many as eighty-percent of patients with the condition attest to suicidal thoughts, and almost a QUARTER of them have attempted the act. This IS upsetting, but if a patient can be convinced to get help, treatment can be very effective. Treatment for BDD focuses on psychotherapy, a type of individual counseling designed to help change the thoughts and actions of a sufferer. Although no medication is specifically indicated for BDD, some doctors also prescribe antidepressants to patients. With dedication to their treatment programs, most patients with body dysmorphic disorder can go on to live happy, healthy lives. If you believe that someone you care about is dangerously obsessed with physical appearance, please make an appointment with a mental health professional!More »
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Exercise addiction can be defined as an obsession with fitness. Believe it or not, excessive exercise can be harmful. Watch this video to find out more.
Transcript: Exercise is a good thing, right? Well, most of the time but like the old adage says, you CAN get too...
Exercise is a good thing, right? Well, most of the time but like the old adage says, you CAN get too much of a good thing! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most adults should exercise about thirty minutes daily. For children, that number doubles, to about sixty minutes of physical activity each day. But for some people-most often females between ages 12 and 19 the recommended amount of exercise is never enough. Hypergymnasia is a condition characterized by a person's compulsive desire to exercise well beyond what is considered normal and healthy. A person with this condition typically has a skewed body image and tries to achieve an impossible goal by exercising in a rigorous manner. Often, hypergymnasia is coupled with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Also called "obligatory exercise" and "anorexia athletica," this condition causes sufferers to lose all enjoyment of exercise. Instead, physical activity becomes an obligation that is not to be shirked, even in the face of sickness or injury. If a person with hypergymnasia misses even ONE workout, she is bombarded with feelings of guilt and anxiety. Often, individuals with the condition will abandon social, work, and school commitments in order to exercise. Physical activity becomes SO important, in fact, that sufferers define self-worth and success in terms of performance. It's not uncommon for compulsive exercisers to also struggle with very poor body image. In addition, excessive exercise can damage muscles, bones, and joints, and when these minor injuries aren't permitted time to heal, long-term damage can result. Even more disturbing, too much activity places stress on the heart, particularly when an eating disorder is ALSO present. In extreme cases, this can lead to cardiac arrest. Females are PARTICULARLY at risk for physical problems, as anorexia athletica can disrupt the hormone levels in their bodies. This can lead to premature bone loss as well as the cessation of their menstrual periods. While this is upsetting, people with hypergymnasia CAN and DO improve with treatment. Psychotherapy can help patients establish a healthier relationship with both exercise AND eating. In fact, an estimated 80-percent of those treated for anorexia athletica experience vast improvements or complete recoveries. If you, or someone you love, show signs of hypergymnasia, don't stay silent! Make an appointment with a mental health professional immediately!More »
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Have you got a family of picky eaters? It might be in your genes. Find out more about picky eating and how it's affected by your genetics in this video.
Transcript: From Jerry Seinfeld's finicky children, to the UK television show Farm of Fussy Eaters, picky eating...
From Jerry Seinfeld's finicky children, to the UK television show Farm of Fussy Eaters, picky eating has spent plenty of time in the spotlight! When we think of picky eaters, we tend to picture children with self-imposed, limited diets. Indeed, as many as 20-percent of children between two and five can be classified as "neophobic," which means they actually FEAR new foods. This condition is more common in children with autism, as well as in those with anxiety disorders, like obsessive-compulsive disorder. And scientists suggest that they're also is a biological reason behind these patterns. While children UNDER two often eat a wide variety of foods, their taste buds tend to shut down around the second year. This is an evolutionary "safety feature" to ensure that newly mobile children don't run around eating too many things they shouldn't. But picky eating isn't just evolutionary; in fact, a recent University College London study found that children's aversions to trying new food are largely INHERITED. According to the study, neophobicism is actually 78-percent genetic and just 22-percent environmental. This genetic component is what Jerry Seinfeld's wife, Jessica, dealt with when her three children refused to eat fruits and vegetables. In desperation, Jessica began pureeing fruits and vegetables and adding them secretly into foods her kids WOULD eat. The result, a cookbook called Deceptively Delicious, was met with mixed responses from experts. Because picky eating can lead to depleted nutrients, a lack of energy, behavioral problems, weight loss, and infections in children, some doctors heralded the "hidden foods" agenda as a wise way to handle picky eaters. Others, however, pointed out that hiding foods doesn't teach children to APPRECIATE them, or expand their food tastes to accepting them as part of their diet. No matter where they stand on this debate, however, experts agree that picky eating isn't just child's play. The reality show, Farm of Fussy Eaters, was actually created to explore finicky eating in ADULTS. The contestants on this UK hit all suffered from ADULTHOOD picky eating, which is sometimes called Selective Eating Disorder. Like children, adults with the condition tend to consume only a VERY limited set of foods. They have a real aversion to trying new things and some will restrict themselves SO severely that only certain KINDS of food are acceptable. For example, one contestant on Farm would only consume beige foods, like chicken, pasta, and bread. As a result of their selective eating, picky adults such as these may have trouble with social, romantic, and work relationships, as well as suffer health consequences from nutritional depletion. On Farm, a dietician, a psychologist, and a chef teamed up to help contestants deal with both their food aversions AND these consequences. But off-air, picky eating is not yet a medical diagnosis, which means that research on treatment options is scarce. Unfortunately, picky eating in adults can lead to varied health concerns, from malnutrition, obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and even death. For this reason, both picky eaters and those who parent them should consult with a doctor about the severity of the problem.More »
Last Modified: 2014-01-10 | Tags »
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Night Eating Syndrome is a eating disorder in which a person binges on food at night. Since it can cause obesity, it's important to gain a better understanding of night eating syndrome. Watch this video for details.
Transcript: Imagine eating a large meal after dinner, going to bed, and then awakening several times in the night...
Imagine eating a large meal after dinner, going to bed, and then awakening several times in the night to snack again! For as many as six million Americans, these nocturnal eating patterns are a regular part of life. While you might not have heard of it, Night eating syndrome, or NES, is a newly identified eating disorder, which actually affects slightly more people than does anorexia nervosa. Individuals with NES routinely consume more than half of their daily caloric intake after dinner, but before breakfast. They awaken repeatedly; usually about ten to twelve times more often than those without the condition. Then, in order to fall back to sleep, sufferers often need to consume snacks. As such, individuals with night eating syndrome generally have little or no appetite for breakfast. Unfortunately, avoiding significant daytime eating doesn't usually help keep weight down. In fact, it's been estimated that 33-percent of morbidly obese people have this condition. Furthermore, night eating syndrome causes sufferers to feel guilty, tense, and anxious while eating. It's unsurprising, then, that people with NES have higher rates of clinical depression and daytime stress. In attempting to understand why people "night eat," doctors have discovered that hormones play a large role. People with night eating syndrome tend to have higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone; and lower levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Compounding the situation is the fact that night eaters also have low levels of the hormone leptin. Leptin is an appetite-suppressing hormone that helps turn off appetite during sleep. This disruption in hormones may explain why night eaters tend to crave sugar and carbohydrates. These foods help the body produce an emotion-regulating hormone called serotonin. Because serotonin helps cause sleepiness, people with NES may actually be using night eating as a way to "self-medicate." The good news is that treatments for night eating syndrome can be very effective! Preliminary studies at the University of Pennsylvania showed that night eaters treated with the antidepressant sertraline, branded as Zoloft, showed great improvement in more than 70-percent of cases! In addition, night eaters may benefit from stress management classes as well as lifestyle changes, like limiting caffeine and alcohol. Treatment for night eating syndrome works-so if you're suffering from the condition, make an appointment to see your doctor!More »
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