Tag Archive: eating disorders

  1. When Adolescents Need More Help for Eating Disorders

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    When Adolescents Need More Help for Eating Disorders

    When thinking of the current status of adolescent eating disorders, one might wish they had the advice given over two thousand years ago. The Buddha is quoted, “To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” Yet, the messaging given to adolescents today is a far cry from this age-old advice. That is why it is crucial to combat the current social climate of body shaming and help adolescents avoid, mitigate, and overcome eating disorders by any means necessary.

    Adolescents often try to hide their eating disorders, but there are important signs that can help to access the diagnosis and help they need. While many healthcare professionals may try to treat eating disorders on their own, it is important to understand when a diagnosis requires more help than you can give them.

    Warning Signs: What to Look For in Adolescent Eating Disorders

    One of the first steps in helping adolescents with a potential eating disorder is being able to recognize the signs. This is often easier said than done because adolescents often try to hide their negative eating behaviors. It is also important to distinguish a potential eating disorder from something less severe like “disordered eating” or the more common poor eating habits often exhibited by teens.

    Here are some, but not all, of the warning signs that an eating disorder may be present:

    • A sallow appearance, which includes poor skin, hair loss, and extremely low body fat
    • Excessive gastrointestinal problems
    • Overuse of laxatives, weight loss teas, or over-the-counter stimulants to aid in weight loss
    • Avoiding meals altogether
    • Binge eating, followed by self-induced vomiting
    • Organ failure
    • Self-harm associated with body image
    • Suicidal ideations associated with body image
    • Suicide attempts associated with body image

    If any of these signs are present, it is advised that you intervene immediately, but what happens if you do not have the tools or resources to help properly? In these cases, you should reach out to the right facility, center, or institution that can. Sustain Recovery can help with this.

    Diagnosing an Adolescent Eating Disorder

    If any of the previously mentioned warning signs are present, it is possible that a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder (ED) can be made. However, diagnosing an ED does not equal the ability to treat it. Also, an ED should not be definitively diagnosed by anyone other than a professional trained in this field.

    Here are just a few of the specific diagnoses of eating disorders:

    • Anorexia Nervosa involves avoidance of food and a preoccupation with weight loss and body image
    • Bulimia Nervosa involves the process of binging and purging food, either with vomiting or excessive laxative use
    • Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the consumption of large amounts of food in short periods of time and is associated with a loss of control
    • Orthorexia is an excessive preoccupation with “health” and the cutting out of an increasing number of food groups that are vital for normal body function (carbs, fats, or sugars, for example)
    • Compulsive Exercise focuses on extreme amounts of exercise that interfere with daily life and create unhealthy levels of weight loss

    While these are some specific EDs, it is also important to remember that they often coexist with other mental health issues. These comorbidities are yet another reason to ensure that you are getting an adolescent the proper care they need.

    Dual Diagnosis: Comorbidities and Eating Disorders

    Often, EDs don’t simply arise from the act of ingesting food itself. Rather, they often stem from more deeply rooted mental or emotional issues.

    These issues may include childhood trauma, anxiety or depression, or a number of other mood disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder, for example). EDs may also be accompanied by other disorders that arise from the previously mentioned problems.

    EDs have been shown to be accompanied often by alcohol and substance use disorders (SUD). This is because both illicit substance use and eating disorders can be used as a “quick fix solution” to these deeper-rooted problems.

    It is because these comorbidities often exist that proper care must be sought out. For example, if you can treat one of the mental health or eating disorders but not the other, then the risk is that neither of the disorders is adequately being treated or resolved.

    Finding and Administering the Best Care

    EDs, including those with comorbidities, need to be detected, diagnosed, and treated as soon as possible. The reality of EDs is that they can have life-long negative effects and can even be fatal if not treated properly.

    If you do not feel like you can adequately treat an ED, it is crucial that you find professional help that can. Sustain Recovery can be that help because no child should needlessly suffer any longer than they have to.

    More often than not, an eating disorder exists with one or more other disorders. That is why it is critical to gain a better understanding of the exact disorder the adolescent is experiencing. Depending on the behavior and symptoms, the child may need more help than a certain facility or treatment center can offer. It is important to get a proper diagnosis so that the best treatment and care can be administered. This will give the child the best chance at recovery. We have the resources to help you better understand and treat EDs with comorbidities. We invite you to inquire about what we can offer. Please contact Sustain Recovery at (949) 407-9052 for more information.

  2. Changing Disordered Eating Patterns Before They Become Eating Disorders

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    The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius says, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” This concept can certainly be applied to a significant number of adolescents who have begun to exhibit signs of disordered eating.

    The 21st-century social media boom has brought with it significant insecurities when it comes to both adolescent body image and eating habits. With social media prevalence, the “beauty ideal” has not only become severely skewed toward the unhealthy (this includes both excessive weight loss and weight gain), but dangerous eating habits have become normalized as well.

    While social media cannot take full blame for disordered eating, it has certainly contributed. Yes, disordered eating has existed for an extensive period of time (examples can certainly be plucked from any era). Still, many believe that it has not been as prevalent as it is now in the adolescent arena.

    Adolescents often exhibit plenty of signs of disordered eating. For some, if left unchecked, these unhealthy patterns can become eating disorders. Recognizing and helping to change unhealthy eating patterns early on can help prevent teens from developing a severe clinical diagnosis.

    Awareness Regarding Disordered Eating in Adolescents

    One of the most pivotal aspects in treating disordered eating is first recognizing it. Having an awareness of what to look for (the red flags) can help to both mitigate the effects of disordered eating and potentially impede the development of a more serious eating disorder.

    Here are some of the red flags to look out for when assessing if disordered eating behavior may be present:

    • Excessively restricting diet (this may include not eating enough or becoming averse to “normal” foods due to a belief that they may cause weight gain)
    • Making excuses to avoid eating
    • Using over-the-counter supplements to quell the feeling of hunger and aid in weight loss
    • Binge eating or excessive eating throughout the day
    • Obsessing about weight loss, or excessive eating
    • An aversion to or the inability to eat in front of others

    These are merely a few of the warning signs of disordered eating, but if any of them are present, it could be cause for concern. However, it is also important to assess whether what is being observed is disordered eating or simply a “poor diet” that many adolescents often indulge in.

    Disordered Eating Versus “Poor Diet”

    There are some significant differences between poor diet and disordered eating. The good news is that they are easily distinguished.

    Here are some signs that a teen is merely exhibiting signs of a poor diet:

    • There is a clear correlation between weight gain and caloric intake from “processed” junk foods (these may include sugary sodas, energy drinks, fast food, and excessively salty and sugary snacks)
    • There is a clear correlation between avoiding healthy foods due to the want of less healthy alternatives (for example, avoiding broccoli due to taste is significantly different than avoiding food due to fear of weight gain)
    • Initial weight loss due to increased athletic activity (this is common when a school sport is taken on, but if excessive weight loss continues, it should be noted as a key for concern)

    Being able to discern between poor eating habits and disordered eating habits is important. However, discerning between disordered eating habits and the presence of an eating disorder is even more crucial.

    Red Flags for Adolescent Eating Disorders

    It is critical to understand that there is a significant difference between disordered eating, which may develop into an eating disorder, and an eating disorder that is already present.

    Here are some of the red flags that an adolescent eating disorder may already exist:

    • The adolescent is displaying visible physical symptoms, such as poor skin condition, hair loss, and gastrointestinal problems
    • The child is detected as having self-induced vomiting after meals or throughout the day
    • The level of body fat has become dangerously low
    • Organ failure
    • Using laxatives to help avoid weight gain or aid in weight loss
    • The inability to stop eating, even after it creates discomfort or becomes painful
    • The level of body fat has become dangerously high and begins interfering with everyday life
    • The child exhibits signs of self-harm or suicidal ideations due to body image

    If any of these signs are discovered, professional help must be sought immediately, as eating disorders can have life-long consequences and can be fatal.

    Treatment: The Why, When, and How

    It is important to understand that treating an eating disorder is very serious work, often involving professional treatment and therapy. If you cannot provide the proper care, it is critical that you seek a facility that can.

    Now, if disordered eating is discovered, it is also highly recommended that professional treatment be sought because there is a very real danger of an eating disorder developing. Even a poor diet, which is often just a sign of “normal” teenage behavior, should arouse a little more attention so it does not lead into the realm of disordered eating.

    Sustain Recovery has professional care that can help with adolescent body image and eating habits. There is no need for senseless struggle when it comes to any aspect of adolescent mental health, including disordered eating.

    It is critical that disordered eating in adolescents be recognized as soon as possible. However, it is important to understand that there is a difference between poor eating habits and disordered eating. Being able to distinguish these differences and recognize if there are signs of a more serious problem is vital. This early detection can better help get these children the proper care and treatment that they need. It is possible that, upon observation, no dangerous disordered eating habits are present, but it is important to know what to do if there are. We welcome you to inquire about our services. We are here to connect, inform, and help. For more information, please contact Sustain Recovery at (949) 407-9052.

  3. What are the Effects of Eating Disorders on Adolescent Males

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    male athlete strong exercise

    More attention is being paid to eating disorders in boys and young men than previously done. The pressures placed on young girls are now being similarly placed on young men through pop culture. The problem far extends beyond just a certain demographic as many young men are struggling with eating disorders. Learn more about the effects of eating disorders on adolescent males.


    The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates 10 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male but this may be a low figure. A more true figure may hover closer to 30 percent. It is a hidden sub-population which is a serious national health crisis. Even more, boys and men are risking their lives as eating disorders having the highest death rate of any psychological illness. Many in the medical profession still see anorexia as a girl’s disease making it difficult to break the barrier.


    Billboards, trailers and more focus on the perfect abs, glutes and body type that is not ideal for most men or young boys. Many boys start out wanting to achieve perfection and spiral into eating disorders. The hyper-idealized male physique can be underscored when movies come out that demonstrate how an actor spent seven or eight hours a day pushing the body and building up muscle to look good in a certain role. For an individual with anorexia, it is difficult to achieve this goal and it leaves the individual feeling like a failure.

    Weight Issues

    One of the main problems with eating disorders in young men isn’t always based on food consumption it is focused on over exercising to the point of extreme weight loss. It can cause fingernails to turn brittle, sunken eyes and cheeks to appear and baggy clothes are worn to conceal the weight loss. When a man reaches zero body fat, the body cannot stay warm and it becomes a health risk. More notably, personality changes erupt and it becomes difficult to navigate around an individual who is having mood swings.

    Healing the Inner World

    A teen’s inside voice can be the most lethal when it comes to eating disorders. Vulnerable teens lead internal lives that have voices of a cruel dictator living inside. When an individual tries to say no to the eating disorder, the voice grows louder, begging the individual to try and navigate life with this voice saying it is never enough and the young man feels more compelled than ever to keep forging ahead with the eating disorder in spite of losing health, relationships and other things that matter.

    A big part of recovery is learning to silence or ignore the voice. When an eating disorder is beat, it is possible to live a life that is more free of that voice beckoning a young man to do things that are harmful and focuses more on positive, healthy alternatives for the future.


    Sustain Recovery provides support to adolescents who need residential treatment for addiction. Young adults who need short or long term stays are welcome to come and seek support for the journey to recovery.

  4. How to Stop Binge Eating

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    How to Stop Binge EatingThe advertising tag line “ I bet you can’t eat just one” foreshadowed the growing obesity epidemic that is being fueled by binge eating. Binge eaters will numbly go through an entire bag of potato chips or a box of cookies without stopping to think about what they are doing and with no sense of hunger or fulfillment. Eating comforts them, distracts them from the stresses in their lives, and fills an emotional hole that might otherwise leave them feeling depressed, angry, or anxious about negative events in their lives.

    The Dynamics of Binge Eating

    If binge eating is not controlled, it can lead to severe health problems that are associated with obesity, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stomach and renal disorders. A person might be biologically predisposed to binge eating as, for example, if he has a disorder that blocks messages from his brain telling him to stop eating because he is full. In modern society, social, cultural and psychological factors are more likely to lead to binge eating disorders. A young person who is bullied at school or abused at home will turn to binge eating to ease the pain of those events. People use food as a reward for surviving on-the-job stress or difficult conditions in their home lives or relationships. Binge eaters will consume salty or sugary snacks to alleviate symptoms of depression. Any situation that leads a person to consume large quantities of food with no consideration of any accompanying hunger can signal the start of a binge eating disorder.

    Treating a Binge Eating Disorder

    Binge eating is characterized by a complete lack of control over food consumption. Binge eaters will obsess about food. They will eat in secret and try to hide their proclivities from friends and family members. They might feel guilty or disgusted with themselves at the end of an eating binge, or even eat until they are sick, but no amount of guilt, disgust, or illness will convince them to take control, of their food consumption.

    The first step in ending a binge eating problem is for a binge eater to gain a sense of awareness of how much food he or she is consuming. This can be accomplished with the maintenance of a food journal. That journal will become a record of the stresses and events that lead to eating binges, which will allow the binge eater to develop different strategies to handle those stresses and events. Binge eaters can also remove temptations to overeat by keeping foods out of their houses that they have used to satisfy food cravings, and instead to focus on eating no more than three regular meals or five smaller meals every day.

    Binge eaters should also focus on starting an exercise program and incorporating activities into their lives that they can turn to as alternatives to binge eating. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep will also be critical to manage a binge eating problem, as a lack of sleep has been shown to increase cravings for carbohydrate-laden foods. Binge eaters should also strive to focus on feelings other than the urge to eat, and to develop alternative responses to negative feelings. If a binge eater cannot manage these tasks alone, he or she should seek professional help to counteract the urge to binge eat.

    Modern society may have created the conditions that gave rise to binge eating problems, as well as the ready and available products that can satisfy the binge eater’s cravings. Fortunately, binge eaters have countless resources to fall back on that can help them break a binge eating problem.

    If you are concerned over your own binge eating, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. We can assess your relationship with food and give you suggestions on how to make that relationship healthier and more fulfilling.

Sustain Recovery changed my life in a way I never considered remotely possible. I arrived in a place where I knew nobody. Sustain Recovery gave me tools so that I never had to be alone again. I learned how to live like an adult and have genuine relationships with other human beings. I gained a sense of self respect, love, and pride from the challenges I was given by staff. I was able to work through the recent loss of my father and I achieved my goal of not taking any psychiatric medication.
I learned that life is an endless balancing act. I have to continually work on myself and my relationships with the people in my life. The staff at Sustain Recovery are all incredibly experienced and spiritual. They were available to me whether I wanted their help or not. Through their efforts and experience, I experienced the inner workings of having an intimate, loving relationship with a loving creator.
Sustain Recovery is “home” for me. I discovered a loving, caring family that helped launch me to a place I would have never dreamed and, if I would have dreamed it, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish it.

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