Anorexia and bulimia are the two main eating disorders affecting many young people.
In a society of plenty why are young people starving and exercising excessively to lose weight? Why do others gorge and then force themselves to purge by vomiting or purging?
The reasons are complex …
One reason is that young people often fall for the hype of advertising and try to emulate the rich and famous as represented by the media. As the pop culture promotes overly thin models, young people diet, use excessive exercise and other methods to keep their weight down and to follow their ‘role models’.
Both, diet and excessive exercise may then cause nutritional deficiencies, which in turn will have an adverse effect on the mind. One of these deficiencies is the lack of zinc.
In his book „Optimum Nutrition for the Mind‟ Patrick Holford asks: “What comes first, the chicken or the egg?” as the symptoms of zinc deficiency are identical with the symptoms of anorexia: namely weight loss, loss of appetite, amenorrhea, impotence in males, nausea, skin lesions, malabsorpton, disperceptions, and depression anxiety”. Worse, the continued dieting causes zinc deficiency, and the zinc deficiency exasperates the anorexia.
Holford’s recommendation is that all those with this disorder take, along with a multivitamin, mineral supplements and essential fatty oils plus 45mg of elemental zinc per day, halving this level once weight gain is achieved and maintained.
One of his comments on bulimia is that the person usually binges on wheat, sweet or dairy products, products that on one hand are considered to be „comfort foods‟ (known to comfort the body during stress) and on the other hand may contribute to mood and behavioral changes for those that are sensitive or allergic to them.
Another cause for eating disorders is adverse life events. The affected person is experiencing challenges over many years, which the person cannot control. To compensate for this lack of control the person starts controlling their eating.
Voices in the Head
Many sufferers with anorexia have a voice in their head commanding them not to eat. One person stated that when she was hungry and went to the fridge to eat, the voice in head commanded her not to eat, hence she couldn’t. This went on for nearly twenty years.
The risk factors for developing eating disorders are:
- Female under 25,
- Stress and puberty.
Many young girls are perfectionists who cannot adapt well to change. Thus, they feel out of control when their bodies are changing during puberty and hence try to stop this.
Having said this, eating disorders in males have also increased.
In our Western culture the emphasis is on the body: Go buy new clothes, makeup, hairdos, exercise and lose weight and you will have a „new‟ you.
Unfortunately this does neither help managing stress nor does it alter what is inside, the low self esteem, depression, or loneliness. One requires psychological and spiritual growth and an understanding of one’s own value and place in the world. Whilst young people are in the process of learning these skills and are gaining an understanding of themselves and the world, they are in a vulnerable situation and do not have the maturity to „see through‟ the hype of advertising, the pop culture and the media.
- Therapy or counseling is advised for the individual to heal from the adverse life events and debunk the media’s myths.
- Family counseling is highly recommended to understand the families’ role in the healing process.
- A drug free approach can be taken with the “My Envisioned Mind” process.
We also highly recommend Beverley Searle‘s book “What doctors do NOT want you to know about Anorexia“, an Amazon bestseller, which is available on kindle.