Unlike anxiety or depression, eating disorders are considered as serious psychiatric illnesses. Individuals with eating disorders normally use food in a manner that is unhealthy in the bid to cope with unpleasant emotions or when in difficult life situations. The two most common eating disordered include anorexia nervosa and anorexia bulimia. Anorexia can be best defined by self-starvation. Individuals with this eating disorder intentionally starve themselves to dangerously low levels that are at least 15% percent below the weight that would be considered as being their normal weights. It is also imperative to comprehend that anorexia is addictive. Moreover, the eating disorder is normally accompanies by body distortion and as such one who is suffering from this illness do not see what other individuals see. Bulimia, on the other hand, is a complex disease that is difficult for most individuals to comprehend. This illness rarely occurs sin children. Additionally, bulimia is prevalent in adolescents girls. The individuals suffering from this disease often binge large amounts of food uncontrollably and then proceed to purge through vomiting, excessive exercises, starving, and through the use of laxatives. A person with bulimia can purge up to 20 times a day.
Once an individual has developed an eating disorder, the concept of the family becomes difficult to balance and maintains. This is because eating disorders are normally egocentonic meaning that the eating disorder is all-vital to the individual and thus the individual becomes highly self-absorbed. However, it is through the relationships forged in the family that can be used to treat eating disorders, as they are mainly psychiatric win nature (Dondzilo, Rieger, Palermo, Byrne & Bell, 2017).
Role of the family in prevention of eating disorders
For any individual, relationships are core parts of their lives (Kong & Harris, 2015). The relationships that people form enable them to stay in contact with other people and interact with the world around them. Once individuals are involved in eating disorders, the eating disorders tend to eat away the relationships that they have especially family members. Treating the illness is not complete enough get rid of the disease but a beginning to the long road to recovery. For many individuals, families are supposed to be joyous as it mostly offers plans for socializing and festivities. When families come together, the time spent together is supposed to bring the families closer and reaffirm family support and love. To the individuals who are undergoing the process of recovery from any eating disorder whether it is anorexia or bulimia, family occasions can be overwhelming and threatening. It is thus up to family members to ensure that they play a vital role in the prevention of eating disorders (Gamero-Villarroel et al., 2015).
There are various things that family members can do to prevent any instances of eating disorder. One of the key roles that a family plays is ensuring that they examine their own behaviours and attitudes towards appearance and weight. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that they talk with their children about the genetic differences in body styles and sometimes the devastating effects of irrational prejudice. Parents should be in a position to examine what their children are modelling. Some of the signs that they should look for include acceptance of oneself, criticism of spouse's body, the practice of self-condemnation and extreme dieting (Trottier, Wonderlich, Monson, Crosby, & Olmsted, 2016).
Some of the strategies that families can utilize in the bid to prevent the onset of eating disorders may include:
1. Enhance parental support in any instance that a child has shown signs self-condemnation regarding their body weight.
2. Decrease weight and body talk. This ensures that the individuals who suffer from eating disorders do not feel stereotyped of any form of prejudice.
3. Provide a supportive home food environment. A supportive home environment guarantees that the individual who has shown signs can be helped and that it is a condition that can affect anyone.
4. Model healthy eating habits. It is the responsibility of the family to ensure that adopt healthy eating habits.
5. Help children to build self-esteem beyond looks and physical activity
6. Encourage expression of feelings openly through the use of coping mechanisms so that they do not feel pressured by their colleagues.
7. Increase understanding of eating disorders sign and symptoms
8. Increase support in dealing with carers own struggles.
It is the responsibility of the parents or older family members to recognize their profound impact that their own behaviour has on the children. For instance, a mother who is obsessed with calories, extreme dieting and fat grams who focus on clothing sizes tend to encourage similar behaviours from their children (Depestele et al., 2017). Similarly, fathers play a vital role in the development of their children's self-esteem and values. Although all parents are encouraged to avoid excessive praising their children based on their appearance, there is the need for them to be concerned. Although many girls tend to look up to their fathers as their role models, it is important for the fathers to portray a model that is based on them and not a model that is based on how the child looks (McGuinness & Taylor, 2016).
The parental focus is one key strategy that parents can use in the prevention of eating disorders. Parents should thus place a higher emphasis on the academic achievements and other unique talents such as athletics. Moreover, every individual who has a chance of suffering from eating disorders should be highly reinforce in excellent qualities such as generosity, kindness, and compassion. Parents also have an immense role in combating the peer pressure that girls face when they are exposed to a host of negative media messages. Parents have to come up with strategies that ensure positive communication at home. It is the responsibility of the parents to talk about what is important and what is of value in the real world and what is not of value. Value found in the content of an individuals character and heart (Ackard et al., 2011).
There are various psychological theories that can be strategically implemented in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders such as Bulimia and Anorexia. According to a study conducted by Norris, Apsimon, Harrison, Obeid, Buchholz, Henderson & Spettigue (2012), although there have been various studies to show the importance of family or psychological oriented theories in the prevention of eating disorder, many researchers have conducted studies to affirm the importance of cognitive theory in the treatment of eating disorders. From the review, it is evident that cognitive therapy is vital in the treatment of bulimia. A good instance is when individuals have low morals. Such individuals may be encouraged by rapid improvements thereby leading the patient to benefit most from the cognitive behavioural theory.
Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa, like substance misusers, tend to be impulsive. In contrast, however, persons suffering from anorexia tend to be less impulsive than their bulimia counterparts are. The impulsiveness that exists in bulimia nervosa seems to extend beyond the general association of impulsiveness and is thus associated with poor outcome of bulimia nervosa treatment (Gaete & Fuchs, 2016).
In conclusion, the two most common eating disordered include anorexia nervosa and anorexia bulimia. Anorexia can be best defined by self-starvation. Individuals with this eating disorder intentionally starve themselves to dangerously low levels that are at least 15% percent below the weight that would be considered as being their normal weights. It is also imperative to comprehend that anorexia is addictive. Due to the genetic component or the psychological nature of these two eating disorders, there is no evidence to suggest that bulimia and anorexia could be eliminated worldwide. Although all parents are encouraged to avoid excessive praising their children based on their appearance, there is the need for them to be concerned. Although many girls tend to look up to their fathers as their role models, it is important for the fathers to portray a model that is based on them and not a model that is based on how the child looks.
It is however through a great deal of love from family and support, opening different communication channels that parents can be able to help their children to develop healthy relationships with food and also combat the societal pressure that they feel to be thin while at the same time maintaining a strong body image and self-esteem.
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