Eating vs Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are not simply about eating. They are about self-image, and often involve unrealistic self-image that can have serious physical health consequences. Indeed, anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness; an estimated four percent of anorexia sufferers die from complications of the disease, and 3.9 percent of bulimia sufferers die.
While all of us require food in order to live, and eating can be one of the most pleasurably human activities, eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect people’s emotional and physical health. When eating is used to control body weight and shape and/or as a coping mechanism to manage difficult emotions and situations, eating can become dangerous.
At their extremes, eating disorders can seriously damage the sufferer’s health and significantly interfere with their ability to function daily and to enjoy life. In anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally, and the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, with consequences that include abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, reduction of bone density muscle loss and weakness, and severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure. The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions.
It is common for eating disorders to occur with one or more other psychiatric disorders, which can complicate treatment and make recovery more difficult. Early detection and intervention can significantly help prevent the onset of a full-blown eating disorder, as well as years of struggles to recover from the illness.
TELL Eating Disorders Treatment Program
Thanks to generous support from Ichigo Asset Management, TELL Counseling has become one of Japan’s most respected resources for treating eating disorders in both adults and children. TELL therapists who treat eating disorders are trained in the most up-to-date treatment methods and are continuously supervised by highly respected U.S.-based eating disorders programs. In addition to treatments, TELL’s Eating Disorders Program provides training and workshops for awareness-building and empowerment of Japan-based caretakers and professionals.
TELL Counseling has also established a strong and collaborative partnership with other professionals, especially with medical professionals in coordinating care. In addition to treatments, the Eating Disorders Program at TELL provides training and workshops for awareness-building and empowerment of caretakers and professionals in the community.
For information on the Eating Disorders Program at TELL Counseling, please email the Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call TELL Counseling at 03-4550-1146. For Frequently Asked Questions, please see here.
Tips on “How to Help a Loved One with Eating Concerns”
(by NEDA – National Eating Disorders Association)
- Learn as much as you can about eating disorders
- Be honest, be vocal about your concerns
- Be caring, but be firm
- Compliment the loved one’s inner qualities
- Be a good role model, practice what you preach
- Tell a trusted adult, if applicable
- Place shame, blame or guilt
- Make rules or promises that you cannot or will not uphold
- Give simple solutions
- Ignore or avoid the situation until it is severe or life-threatening
Nine Truths about Eating Disorders
- Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
- Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
- Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
- Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
- Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
- Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
- Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
- Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
- Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.
“Myths” about eating disorders
(from the 2015 National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Campaign by NEDA)
I HAD NO IDEA that:
- eating disorders don’t discriminate. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, gender or sexuality.
- the “perfect” images I see everyday are digital illusions. Media literacy is a powerful tool in the fight against eating disorders. Look critically before you criticize yourself.
- my passion had become a problem. Athletes are at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder.
- my quest for health was making me sick. 35% of normal dieters (in the US) progress to disordered eating. You deserve help to stop the cycle.
- eating disorders are often overlooked or misdiagnosed – even by doctors. Medical professionals can play a critical role in early intervention.
- bullying can trigger disordered eating. As many as 65% of people (in the US) with eating disorders say bullying contributed to their condition.
- eating disorders aren’t just a “phase” – Parents don’t cause eating disorders. They can be central to a child’s recovery.
*TELL would like to thank the Ichigo Asset Management, Ltd for its generous support of the Eating Disorders Program at TELL since 2010.