Home Care for Eating Disorders
Eating disorders encompass several different manifestations, including:
- Anorexia nervosa (restricting food intake because of a distorted body image)
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (lack of interest in eating)
- Binge eating disorder (excessive eating)
- Bulimia nervosa (generally, bingeing followed by vomiting)
- Night eating syndrome
- Pica (eating things that are not considered food)
- Purging (without bingeing)
- Rumination disorder (regurgitating food and re-chewing it to either swallow or spit out)
- Sleep-related eating disorder (episodes of binge eating and drinking while in a sleep state)
It is recommended that anyone with an eating disorder seek medical help, because these behaviors lead to ill health including but not limited to:
- Brittle nails
- Cognitive impairment
- Cold hands and feet
- Digestive disorders
- Downy hair covering the body
- Dry skin
- Gallbladder disease
- Gastric rupture
- Heart problems up to failure
- Kindey failure from dehydration
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle loss
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior
- Peptic ulcers
- Type II Diabetes
Researchers suggest that many factors can contribute to an eating disorder, including:
- Brain biology
- Cultural influences
- Personality traits
ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) is a good resource for research about eating disorders. They publish more specific statistics but estimate that at least 30 million people in the US suffer from an eating disorder.
One’s particular eating disorder will determine a course of action that may include psychotherapy, nutrition education, oversight and possibly medications. Since other physical dysfunctions will result because of an eating disorder, it is important to consult a medical doctor. Self-treatment should be a complement to medical care. If you are determined to go the alternative route, at least engage a Homeopathic physician who is also an M.D.
If you want to have a healthy body that has a strong immune response, isn’t prone to inflammation, and gives you the best chance for a balance of body hormones (which will affect moods as well as physical health), it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan. But of course, eating disorders are largely about diet and one’s attitudes toward food, self-image, and already-imbalanced biology, so getting to this place is a difficult journey for someone with an eating disorder.
FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING
Variety is important to give you a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. Eating the same few foods all the time may cause food sensitivities. The ability to do this may follow other elements of your treatment plan and may happen slowly. It probably should happen slowly because your digestive system has been under stress and may need rebuilding.
It can be helpful to supplement your diet with smoothies and shakes so you have a better chance of getting the nutrients you need.
FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE
Try to avoid anything that is known to be addictive in a large number of people. There are the usual foods and substances that everyone should avoid for optimum health: excess carbohydrates and sugars, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, tobacco products, excessively salty foods, fried foods…
BEVERAGES, HERBS AND SPICES
These herbs can be made into tea. Many herbs are useful for relaxation which will help anxiety levels.
- Angelica root
- Calamus rhizome
- Pink Rockrose leaf
- Walnut leaf
Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil (coconut, almond, olive, etc.), or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath or compress. Find recipes for blends on the web or create your own.
There may not be specific essential oils that will cure you of any of the causes for your eating disorder, but many oils can calm nerves, improve concentration, ease depression, and/or have a positive effect on headaches or other physical discomforts or conditions.
OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS
The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need. With an eating disorder, you will probably be deficient in some nutrients. Discover what those deficiencies are and discuss supplementation with your doctor. The entries below are not intended to be suggestions for every eating disorder and every person suffering from a disorder. They are suggestions for further research.
- Amino acids
- B vitamins
- Folic Acid
- Quercetin is said to stimulate appetite which may help with anorexia or avoidance.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin H
Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Water transports nutrients throughout the body, protects the eyes and mouth, lubricates joints, regulates your body temperature and removes waste from your body. With some eating disorders, you rob your body of water which in turn leads to imbalances that will affect your organs and diminish your ability to think clearly. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ to one ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.
Exercise will help with moods and anxiety. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. With some eating disorders, it is not unusual that the sufferer engages in excessive exercise, which can be harmful, just as too little exercise can be. Ask a professional for some help with your exercise goals. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.
Quality sleep is crucial to recovery. Sleep improves our ability to learn, resets our emotional brain circuitry, restores our immune system, helps with regulation of blood pressure, regulates the balance of insulin and glucose, and even influences the health of our digestive systems. Lack of quality sleep affects our hormonal responses to hunger. Studies show that lack of quality sleep affects the production of disease-fighting antibodies. If you wake in the morning after 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep feeling unrested, you aren’t getting enough sleep or you have an underlying health condition.
One of the underlying issues with eating disorders is the level of anxiety, whether it is a result of genetics, brain biology or cultural pressures. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend, meditate, join a support group. There is great comfort in sharing the burden with others to whom you do not have to explain in detail what your life is like with an eating disorder; they already know. Do what works for you to stay mellow. Some of the following relaxation methods may be helpful for you:
- Art therapy
- Bach flower remedies
- Body Awareness Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Qi Gong
- Tai Chi
- Ayurveda – https://www.ayush.com/ayurveda-and-eating-disorders
- Biofeedback – https://www.meadowsranch.com/is-it-all-in-your-head-how-neurofeedback-supports-eating-disorder-recovery/
- Chinese Medicine – https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Fight+Eating+Disorders+with+Chinese+Medicine
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – https://www.verywellmind.com/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-eating-disorders-4151114
- Earthing – https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/grounding-techniques-help-recovery
- EFT – https://emofree.com/other-emotional-issues/eating-disorders/bulimia-one-hour-article.html
- Homeopathy – Seek a well-trained Homeopathic physician; remedies take into account all the specific symptoms of each patient.