It’s getting close to Halloween which mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays are around the corner. The Holiday Season can be difficult for many people for various reasons. The Holidays can exacerbate family disagreements, someone may be grieving the loss of a loved one or some people are barely surviving financially and have no idea how they can afford gifts for their children. Another major stressor during the Holidays is food.
There are a number of Holiday parties and family dinners. They tend to all revolve around food. Many people are concerned how they will survive the Holidays without gaining a lot of weight with all the food they will be eating. However, if you have an eating disorder, the Holidays can pose a different problem. How do you survive the parties and dinners without drawing attention to yourself because you do not want to eat? What do you do if people are telling you to eat? For someone with an eating disorder, which could be anorexia or overeating, the Holiday Season can be a very stressful time. How to you survive without people noticing you have an eating disorder or if they know, how do you survive without lectures and feeling like everyone is watching what you do or don’t eat.
Dr. Pooky Knightsmen has created a video dealing with how to cope with the Holidays if you have an eating disorder. She offers some very good strategies to help a person cope with the Holidays. Also if you have a loved one or close friend with an eating disorder, I would strongly recommend you watch it too. This will help you understand what your loved one is dealing with during the Holidays and provide you with ways that you can help make the Holidays less stressful for your loved one with an eating disorder. Here is the link to the video. Eating Disorders: Managing the festive period https://youtu.be/L4nCW2NEoUg via @YouTube.
Remember, the Holidays are about spending time with family and friends not about food. If we remember the Holidays are a time to show people you care and bring people together, people with eating disorders do not have to live in fear of the Holidays.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating children and teenagers. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/drrubino3.
Eating disorders and body image issues are a major problems for teenagers. Despite what most people may think, these issues impact girls and boys. Most people assume eating disorders only impact girls, but they impact boys too. Boys worry about their abdominal muscles having the “six pack” look and how strong they are compared to other boys. Also for some sports such as wrestling they must make a certain weight to compete. Therefore, they worry about their weight. So eating disorders impact boys too.
Looking at the prevalence of eating disorders in teens can be very difficult. Some break the statistics down to diagnoses such as anorexia. While some focus on under eating, teenagers who over eat can also have an eating disorder. Another classification is unhealthy eating that many teens engage in. Some may skip meals or some may consume to many calories to make weight for their sport and then go days without eating. Therefore, eating disorders can take many shapes and forms. Overall, it is estimated that eating disorders impact 5% of female teenagers and 1% of male teens (NIMH). However, the number for males is considered to be under reported. This assumption exists due to the belief many have that eating disorders only impacts girls. Therefore, there is an assumption that the 1% for boys is an underestimate due to under reporting. Working with adolescents I am sure the 1% is incorrect. I hear many teenage boys complain about their bodies or needing to make weight for their sport. I also hear things they do such as only drinking water a week before a weigh in or loading up on protein drinking before working out. What they report may not fit the picture of anorexia we have, but it definitely is not healthy and is involved with body image. This is a major factor in all eating disorders whether it be anorexia or over eating.
One reason I’m addressing this subject is as I stated above most people assume that eating disorders do not impact boys. Eating disorders impact boys and teens from every economic level, ethnicity and religion. They are an equal opportunity disorder. Another reason I’m addressing this issue is suicide is the number one mental health issue killing teenagers in our country. Eating disorders are the second leading mental health issue killing teenagers. It is estimated that every 62 minutes someone dies from an eating disorders (NIMH). The death may occur after someone has received treatment and is considered in recovery. Eating disorders take such a toll on teenage bodies they may die even though they are considered to be recovered. The singer Karen Carpenter is a prime example. She struggled with an eating disorder for years and struggled with treatment too. However, she finally reached a point where she was considered recovered from her eating disorder and started to resume her life. Unfortunately, she died suddenly one day from a heart attack. The toll the eating disorder put on her body weakened her heart severely. So severely that it caused her to have a heart attack even though she was in recovery.
This is a very sad story and fact. We can avoid these issues by early diagnosis and treatment. We also must realize that eating disorders impact boys too. If we do not we are not addressing the entire problem. We need to address how our society look at men’s bodies and women’s bodies and the expectations we place on both genders. No one can live up to the female and male stereotypes we have created. In order to change these stereotypes we need to start with teenagers and provide them with enough self-esteem to reject the stereotypes.
As I stated early treatment is necessary. To have early treatment we must have early diagnosis. I have included a link to a video by Dr. Pooky Knightsmith which discusses the ten common warning signs of an eating disorder in teens and children, please watch this video https://youtu.be/nKwbE8mP_PA.
If your teen or child displays any of these warning or signs or if you feel your teen maybe struggling with an eating issue, make an appointment with an adolescent psychotherapist who specializes in adolescents and eating disorders. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed. A mental health issue is no different than a physical health issue. We only believe their is a difference due to the stigma we have created. However, keeping this stigma is endangering the lives of many teens so help your teen and ignore the stigma. Help them deal with their health issue.
Dr. Michael Rubino is a psychotherapist with over 20 years experience treating teenagers and children. He also treats teens including boys with eating disorders. For my information about his work and private practice visit his website http://www.RubinoCounseling.com or his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.