How To Prevent Anorexia
How To Prevent Anorexia
Preventing anorexia: an explanation of what anorexia is, tips on how to recognise the signs, and ways to prevent it from developing.
Hi, my name's Niki and I'm a counsellor and psychotherapist and I work a lot with teenagers. I'm here to talk to you about some of the issues that you might find that you're dealing with as a teenager and to hopefully give you some tips that might be useful. I'm going to talk to you about how to prevent anorexia.
If you want to prevent anorexia, first of all it's important to understand what it is. Anorexia Nervosa, is the medical term for an eating disorder and a psychological problem that leaves people wanting to be so, so thin that they'll semi starve themselves to become that particular weight. People who are affected by anorexia nervosa also tend to think that they're fatter than they actually are, so they've got what's called a distorted body image and they obsess about food and they obsess about the way they look, and wanting to control their food intake so that they are the size they want to be.
Underlying anorexia is always another problem. The behaviour of controlling food and being obsessed with food, and trying to lose weight, is one way of dealing with some other problem that they're having, that they're not finding a way of resolving. But because of the danger of anorexia, it can become a medical problem.
So, if you're trying to prevent anorexia, it would be to really understand what's the underlying problem that has led to somebody wanting to control their eating to such a point. Usually, if not always, there is an issue of control. So people who are anorexics have something in their life that they feel out of control in.
So whether it's an experience they're going through; from bullying to huge amounts of stress; or pressure from parents, or other situations that they feel out of control of; or they might have feelings that feel unbearable to have; or they might have thoughts or memories that are really to experience or to have. So when you have anorexia, because you're so obsessed with food, it fills your thinking with thoughts with food and losing weight and counting calories and controlling this, and it feels almost like you can't think about anything else. It takes up all your thinking time.
So, noticing signs of anorexia. If you want to prevent it, it's not just understanding it, it's looking out for signs. And signs include: obviously someone becoming very thin; people talking about food all the time; people valuing thinness as the most important thing over anything else; people using laxatives; or never eating in public because obviously they're trying to not eat; exercising a lot.
These are some of the signs. There's other signs too, but you can find out more about that if you research it on the internet, or ask for expert opinions from people that work with eating disorders. And if you want to prevent anorexia, then the very opposite is needed.
So people who have anorexia tend to have low self-esteem. So if you want to prevent it, it's about building up your confidence, building up your self-esteem and how you feel about yourself. People with anorexia obviously also have a negative body image, so if we're preventing it, it would be doing what you can to feel better about yourself, accepting the size you are or accepting the shape you are, and learning to like your body more.
Some of the ways of learning to like your body more are to exercise in a health way, to eat healthily, just learning to feel more at ease with the body that you have. Also another thing in terms of preventing anorexia might be learning to be more assertive. It would also help if you work on your self-confidence by learning how to be assertive without being aggressive or without being passive.
Assertiveness is about being clear about who you are, what you want, what are your needs, and saying what it's important for you to say. Many people that suffer from anorexia nervosa find it hard to speak out about things that are important to them. They tend to be people that have a real strong perfec