There are many health problems that affect mental or physical health, but anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders affect both, making their cure extremely difficult.
They threaten the lives of 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States, according to a 2011 study. Other research found that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
Tragically, eating disorders can begin at age six and are not just conditions of youth; even senior citizens can be affected.
Signs that someone is suffering from anorexia include rapid weight loss, risk of starvation, denial of low weight, excessive concern about body appearance, intensive exercise regimen, eating rituals and a focus on food.
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Bulimia is no less harmful, but a person’s weight is not necessarily an indicator. Instead, a person experiences cycles of uncontrollable eating followed by vomiting, use of laxatives and other measures to rid a body of food. This can cause teeth staining, rupture of the esophagus, pancreatitis and other serious problems. Muscle wasting and fatigue, dehydration, heart failure and suicide are problems of both disorders.
Early intervention with eating disorders is consistently associated with higher recovery rates. Go to myneda.org or call 800-931-2237
Why do people experience eating disorders? Factors include depression, anxiety, relationship problems, traumatizing events, genetics, having someone in the family with an eating disorder, loneliness and history of abuse. Also contributing is societal pressure to be lean and muscular. We tend to reinforce these shallow values when we greet people, often saying something like, “You look great,” rather than saying something like, “It’s great to see you!”
Instead of dwelling on weight, we need to focus on fueling our bodies with healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, lean animal sources of protein, nuts and seeds. See the salad recipe for an example.
People suffering from anorexia and bulimia need professional help. Early intervention is consistently associated with higher recovery rates, so if you are experiencing problems or you suspect that someone is suffering from either disorder, go to myneda.org or call 800-931-2237. You can also talk to a trusted adult, counselor or health professional. Locally, help is available from the Recovery and Wellness Center of Eastern Washington.
Treatment involves psychotherapy or counseling, medical treatment and nutrition education. It can take place in hospitals, residential care facilities and outpatient clinics, depending upon each individual’s needs. Although people and families dealing with these problems often feel shame or guilt, as with all mental and physical health problems, no one is to blame and everyone can take a role in ensuring that those who are suffering get well.
The Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance’s monthly food column discusses how to reduce the risk or severity of health problems by eating better. Find more information at www.bfcha.org.
Citrusy Quinoa and Mango Salad
Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus time for the quinoa to cool. Servings: 4.
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup orange juice, or the juice and zest of one large orange
1/4 cup lime juice, or the juice and zest of 2 medium limes
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons cumin
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained, or 4 ounces cooked chicken breast, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 bunch radishes, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
2 mangos, cheeks scored in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch checkerboard and scooped out with a spoon
Rinse quinoa and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender and water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.
Mix juices, chia seeds and cumin in a small bowl and set aside.
Place beans or chicken in a large bowl. Chop the vegetables and mango and add.
Add the quinoa when cool, pour the dressing over all, and mix well. Refrigerate until serving. Serve over greens with hot sauce, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving with beans: 368 calories, 5 grams fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 237 mg sodium, 70 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 13 grams protein, 17 grams sugars, 46 percent vitamin a, 174 percent vitamin c, 13 percent calcium, 35 percent iron. With chicken: 311 calories, 5 grams fat, no saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 6 grams fiber, 14 grams protein, 16 grams sugars, 46 percent Vitamin A, 175 percent Vitamin C, 9 percent calcium, 25 percent iron.