Getting Help for Eating Disorders
|Eating disorders can be
treated. Thousands of people who failed to control their
eating habits have learned to eat and live free of
compulsion, fear and guilt. The first step in overcoming
an eating disorder is to recognize the problem. This is
difficult for some. Secrecy, shame and a feeling of
powerlessness are common. Once recognized, however, the
crucial second step is to get help.
Medical attention is needed for a proper diagnosis and health evaluation. Professional counseling may be neccessary for a full recovery. Counseling aims to raise the person's self-esteem and to restore normal eating habits. In some severe cases of eating disorders, hospitalization may be required. With guidance, you can gain awareness and make plans for overcoming eating "slips" and relapses. Learning about good nutrition, healthy weight loss and an appropriate exercise program are important, too.
Support from family members and friends can help. Discussions with others in self-help groups can be important, since others have "been there" and understand what keeps sufferers stuck.
Unlearning destructive habits and relearning healthy ones is never simple, but it can be done. With help, a person can learn to control weight and eating patterns, renew a healthy body image, manage difficult emotions and strengthen relationships with others. The journey back to healthy eating habits can begin at any time. Start by looking in your telephone directory for the listing of a local chapter of Overeaters Anonymous. To locate other local resources, contact the health education unit of a local hospital or your nearest mental health center.
Remember, the vast majority of eating difficulties are treated successfully, but you must make the commitment first. It happens with small steps. But the first step -- to ask for help -- is the only one which you must take by yourself.