How to prevent anorexia? Tips to prevent the development of this disorder
Tips to minimize the chances that a young person will end up developing anorexia.
Anorexia has become a true epidemic in recent decades. Eating disorders are among the leading causes of death at a young age and it is one of the most common chronic diseases in adolescence.
The body dysmorphia associated with this disorder causes patients to reduce their caloric intake, leading to extreme thinness and malnutrition. The prevailing canon of beauty and social pressure are factors that influence this alteration of self-perception.
This eating disorder is one of the most serious psychological problems, as it often leads to death. That is why many people wonder how to prevent anorexia. Let's see it below.
How to prevent anorexia? Advice from Psychology
Anorexia is an eating disorder that has become one of the most widespread psychological problems in recent decades. Contrary to what many people believe, it is not the simple fact of being extremely thin, but rather it is the failure to perceive the body as it really is, accompanied by a pathological rejection of accumulating fat and an excessive craving to be extremely slim..
We live in a society where, despite the increasing tolerance of large sizes, the prevailing canon of beauty is associated with a desired body image that is usually that of a thin person. The constant bombardment in the media with almost skeletal women has led to the association of extreme thinness with something beautiful, making any woman who does not comply with that canon automatically seen as ugly and repulsive.
Of course, there are men who may suffer from anorexia, but they are rather few. The canon of male beauty is that of a muscular man, neither thin nor fat. In fact, extreme thinness in men is perceived as weakness and lack of masculinity, which is why it is strange that there are cases of anorexic men. In this case, men are often obsessed with being muscular and lean, and the associated disorder is vigorexia.
But however many prevailing beauty standards and social pressure there may be, anorexia is a preventable disorder.. Of course, it is not an easy thing to do, but by turning to the right professionals, promoting good health habits, both dietary and sporting, and being aware that body image is not everything, it is possible to prevent young people from falling into the trap of extreme thinness.
In order to prevent anorexia, it is very important to know what the warning signs are. Of course, if everything possible has been done to prevent anorexia, it is less likely that the first symptoms of anorexia will appear, but it is still important to be aware of the patterns of anorexia. it is essential to take into account the behavior patterns and other aspects that the person can manifest that indicate that something is not going well.
Among the signs that adolescents can manifest and that, if not properly treated, can end up becoming victims of anorexia are:
- Eats alone, away from home or avoids eating with the family.
- Refuse certain foods, such as fats and high-calorie foods.
- Regate portions and cut food into small pieces.
- Drink large amounts of water, with the intention of having a full stomach.
- Frequent visits to the bathroom, especially after meals.
- Prefers light foods or chews sugarless gum compulsively.
- Shows concern about the nutritional values of food.
- Begins to exercise compulsively.
- Excessive preoccupation with weight or physical appearance.
Although all this does not have to mean that one is in front of a case of anorexia, it is very important to detect them and to consider the need to approach the person with anorexia..
As many of these signs manifest themselves at home, the first to detect the problem are the parents. That is why the most appropriate thing to do is to try to go deeper into it, establish constant communication with the adolescent and deal with the matter calmly. In case the person is not receptive, if you have confidence with your friends or other important people in your life, tell them if you have noticed something different in them.
Prevention of anorexia and family environment.
The family environment is an important factor in the prevention of anorexia in adolescence. The relationship between the parents and the daughter or son is fundamental.especially the mother-daughter relationship. The reason for this is that the mother knows firsthand the physical changes that women go through at puberty, knowing that it is a time of crisis and ups and downs in self-esteem. Along with this, seeing a psychologist as early as possible reduces the severity of the disorder if it does manifest itself.
Although adolescents know that they are in a time of change, often their idea of their ideal body image seems to take precedence over their health, and they take risksand they take risks such as stopping eating with the intention of losing weight. For example, in the case of teenage girls, weight changes at this age are normal, and are accompanied by body dissatisfaction, fear of being judged by the other girls around them and not being liked by potential partners.
The best way to keep them from making a big deal about their body image is to not make it a recurring theme in the home. That is, being fat or thin should not be a reason to treat that person differently, nor should it be a reason to make fun of her, even in an affectionate way. As innocent as it may seem, calling a child "my chubby little daughter" or making negative comments about her image, at this age, can be perceived as a real punch in the gut, can be perceived as a real dagger to their self-esteem, becoming obsessed with being thin..
Thus, if at home being fat or skinny is seen as an important aspect, the adolescent girl will interpret that this is also important on a social level, especially considering the prevailing canon of feminine beauty. In the family environment, a girl's weight should only be of concern if there are medical reasons for it, whether it is overweight associated with a metabolic disease or underweight associated with some nutritional deficit, or there is a suspicion of an eating disorder.
If a deep bond has not been developed with the adolescent, before approaching her and discussing our concern about her eating behavior, it will be necessary to improve the relationship. Both the mother and the father can plan activities with the adolescent, to fostering a relationship of complicity and affectionate connectionThe girl will be more and more inclined to share her feelings and experiences with her parents. This is difficult, but by trying, nothing is lost and, in the long run, all are advantages, whether there are warning signs of anorexia or not.
The family can contribute to avoid anorexia by incorporating order and organization in the food life of the whole family.. Among the fundamental rules that must be applied to avoid any eating disorder are to have at least three meals a day, to have fixed schedules, to always eat together and to supervise all meals. The ideal is to talk to a nutritionist and establish a varied and appetizing meal schedule for everyone.
Can anorexia be prevented from childhood?
Surprising as it may seem, anorexia can be prevented from childhood. Although girls are not yet showing the changes associated with puberty, they are being influenced by the prevailing beauty standards. It is quite sad, but already at an early age, such as six years old, they have the bias that a beautiful woman has to be thin. When they start to become women this idea will be applied to themselves and if they look "fat" it will be the origin of a self-esteem problem..
This is why, with the intention of counteracting the harmful effects of the beauty canon and the obsession for extreme thinness, children should be educated in good health habits from a very young age. Their food should have the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, in addition to fighting against certain food myths such as all fats are bad. The school can educate in good nutrition by offering the parents of their students ideas of healthy menus, with regular schedules and with all kinds of nutritious foods.
From a very young age, they should learn that in order to grow their bodies need all kinds of nutrients, in addition to regular exercise. Exercise should not be done thinking about being thin or muscular, but about being healthy and having a good time. Staying active and eating right are aspects that should be done not with their body image in mind, but with their health in mind.
It is very important to build their self-esteem.. Although they may not have problems in this aspect when they are so young, the truth is that they may feel self-conscious about their body. It is necessary to teach them that nobody is perfect, that in the same way that we have our strengths we also have our faults, and that we must learn to feel comfortable with ourselves. The ideal is to prevent them from feeling self-conscious.
Encouraging their autonomy and being critical is crucial to prevent media messages from affecting them.. It is not about teaching them to be skeptical of absolutely everything, but it is about teaching them that TV messages are not the absolute truth, and that what is on TV does not have to be true. In the same way that a movie or a series is fiction and may use special effects, ads featuring thin models may also have been tricked.
Eating disorders, and especially anorexia, are very serious problems in our society, especially if we take into account how the female beauty canon makes extreme thinness the ideal. People who do not conform to this body image are automatically seen as unattractive and even very ugly.
Anorexia is especially detrimental in adolescence.It is during this period that physical changes cause girls to focus primarily on how they look to others and to themselves in the mirror. If they see something they don't like, especially if they look fat, they may restrict what they eat and, in extreme cases such as anorexia, end up malnourished and die.
No matter how many social factors outside the family, school or high school there are, anorexia can be prevented both in childhood and adolescence, even if the first signs of it have already occurred. Seeing a psychologist is essential in all cases.In addition, the role of teachers and proper communication in the family environment are crucial aspects to prevent and reduce the severity of anorexia.
Good eating habits in the family, coupled with encouraging an active lifestyle, being aware that media messages do not match reality and that all bodies can be attractive is very important in the fight against anorexia. In addition, girls should be made to understand that they should care about their body not based on how it looks, but how healthy it is, regardless of how thin or fat they may be.
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