MIND MATTERS: Eating disorders

Eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes, and can affect everyone.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:24 PM CDT|Updated: May. 25, 2023 at 3:31 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - One of your loved ones could be suffering from an eating disorder without you knowing about it, but there are signs and symptoms to look out for, resources available, and ways to get back to a healthier way of living.

Dr. Jennifer Seidenberg, MD, specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (CBT) with children, adolescents, adults, and families. She says there has been a rise in eating disorders since the COVID-19 pandemic. She says adults and teens may have been looking for something they could control when life may have felt out of control.

“The two main ones that people would think about is anorexia nervosa which leads to weight loss, underweight, restrictive eating behaviors that can occur with overexercise. There can also be a binge eating and purging aspect to that as well. Primary behavior is restrictive eating patterns and a fear of weight gain. Bulimia is different in that patients will engage in binge eating or out of control eating behavior, but that there is a compensatory for purging behavior that goes along with that, as well that could be intentional vomiting, laxative use, but one of the most common eating disorders is binge eating disorders that don’t have the purging component to it,” said Dr. Seidenberg.

Dr. Seidenberg says when it comes to anorexia, women outnumber men 3 to 1 when it comes to that diagnosis, but when it comes to binge eating and bulimia, the numbers are relatively the same. She says there’s also a new eating disorder to look out for.

“It is a relatively new eating disorder called ARFID, but ARFID is a condition where a person will restrict food for a reason that has noting to do with body shape or food intake. They will restrict typically for reasons of anxiety or a texture issue or they may have had a choking episode, so AFRID is very treatable with therapy and medical intervention. A lot of people aren’t aware of it, so they don’t seek treatment for it,” Dr. Seidenberg said.

The doctor says it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of these obsessive behaviors and be aware that there are genetic and environmental components to eating disorders as well.

“Signs and symptoms would be weight loss, unusual weight loss. Most eating disorder patients are not underweight, but especially with anorexia, there may be signs to significant weight loss relative to that person. Other signs of evidence to that would be vomiting. You might see signs in the bathroom if that has been occurring. Hidden food in food wrappers, maybe someone has been eating in the middle of the night and trying to hide that behavior. Over-exercising in general,” Dr. Seidenberg said.

The doctor says good household eating habits are key.

“Good eating habits are caught more than they are taught, so it is important to tell children about good food and nutritional habits, but it’s also even more important to model, so eating a balanced diet, getting fresh fruit and vegetables, make sure you’re getting plenty of that from all the food groups. That’s really important to teach children and not overemphasize perfect eating or an ideal body weight,” the doctor said.

Dr. Seidenberg says she feels the new culture has sparked acceptance and awareness of different body types, along with understanding and support when it comes to dealing with eating disorders.

“My favorite online resource to send families to is the National Eating Disorders Association website. They have lots of resources that are helpful for families and sometimes I just think it’s helpful to encourage families, kind of have an intervention. It also gives them the confidence that there really is a problem and they need to seek help for their loved one,” the doctor said.