Eating together as a family is one of the simplest yet most memorable instances a family could share. Gathering around the dining table, and enjoying each meal is a chance for conversations to flow as it creates strong bonds among family members.
However, instances like this may differ notably in families with members who are suffering from eating disorders. How can a family savor each meal together while effectively dealing with bulimia?
Understanding Eating Disorder
People suffering from eating disorders may suffer from disturbances in eating habits, which may affect their mental health. Most of the time, they are preoccupied with trying to deal with their body weight and figure and food intake.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two kinds of eating disorders wherein a person may be extremely conscious of their body weight. In both conditions, a person may always see themselves as overweight. Anorexia nervosa causes a person to weigh at least 15% below their healthy weight. Symptoms of anorexia include low food intake.
On the other hand, people with bulimia nervosa may weigh slightly heavier than those with anorexia. People with bulimia eat a significant amount of food in such a short period. However, they would also take in laxatives or induce vomiting to get rid of the excessive calories and sugar they consumed.
The exact cause of bulimia is yet to be identified. However, several factors may affect its occurrence. Some of these factors are genetics, biology, mental health, and societal expectations, among others. The combination of these factors and the desire to adapt to beauty standards often pushes a person to develop eating disorders.
According to research, females are more likely to suffer from bulimia than males. It often occurs during the adolescent years of a teenager to early adulthood. These are stages in their lives when they want to belong and be accepted.
Health Risks Of Bulimia
If unattended, bulimia may lead to serious health consequences. People who have bulimia may suffer from malnutrition because they do not get proper nutrition from their food. Because of this, a person’s immune system may become weak, making them at a higher risk of being infected by other diseases.
Aside from malnutrition, constant vomiting may lead to dental problems because of the acid released by the body. It may damage the enamel of the teeth, cause bad breath, and sore throat. Females who have bulimia may also experience irregular or absent menstruation cycles. Physical consequences of bulimia may include dry skin, brittle fingernails, weakness, and bone problems.
Those who suffer from eating disorders need all the support they could get. The whole family must be involved in creating a healthier and positive environment for sufferers. The family is the immediate source of strength and acceptance of persons with bulimia. To be able to deal with bulimia within the family properly, here are some tips:
Follow These Tips
- Open Communication Lines
Some problems and issues may trigger eating disorders. The family can avoid or deal with bulimia effectively if a person can freely say what they feel.
- Promote Body Positivity
“Parents lead by example. Unfortunately, parents can also forget how their actions, thoughts, and words can impact the lives of their children. When it involves body image and eating behavior, this can be especially relevant,” says Robert Glatter, M.D.
There is a high level of trust amongst the members of the family. Because of this, whatever is said and heard within the family is often believed by its members. Promoting body positivity within the family would reduce the risk of developing a person’s insecurities. The family members would not need to seek validation from others because people who love him assure him or her of acceptance.
- Be Wary Of Internet Use
The internet feeds a massive amount of information with just a few clicks. Anyone can post anything on the internet for everyone to see. Suddenly, everyone has a voice of what you should be and how you should look like.
With the ease of access to information, people can easily be influenced by society’s ideals. Because of this, insecurities may also rise. Being wary of internet use is about knowing what information to take and those that should be ignored. Mindful use of the internet would detach you from the misleading “realities” of society.
- Create Healthy Meals
Most people who have bulimia are under too much pressure to achieve an ideal body or weight. The constant thought of being fat would cause them to induce vomiting to not gain weight.
To avoid the need for purging, create healthy yet delicious meals for the family. Make sure that each member is involved and dedicated to a healthier lifestyle. Incorporate more vegetables and less sugar and fats into your family’s diet. Encourage the person with bulimia to eat without purging him or herself.
- Create A Happy Home
One of the factors that may trigger bulimia is stressors. Research reveals that some people living with bulimia are also members of dysfunctional families. Stress coming from family conflict may seek comfort from food, which would increase their food consumption. Creating a happy home would remove or decrease possible stressors in an individual. A positive environment at home will provide a sense of security.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating bulimia. Sufferers and their families should understand the roots of the problem to be able to address it adequately.
These tips are meant to encourage you to be involved in the lives of your family members. Use these tips to understand one another better. Give your full support to family members who are sufferers of eating disorders. Someday, when all is well, you can fully enjoy your meals together.