How to prevent anorexia? Tips to prevent the development of this disorder

Anorexia has become a real epidemic in recent decades. Eating disorders are among the leading causes of death at an early age and are among the most common chronic illnesses in adolescence.

The body dysmorphia associated with this disorder causes patients to reduce their calorie intake, resulting in extreme thinness and malnutrition. The dominant canon of beauty and social pressure are factors that influence this altered self-perception.

This eating disorder is one of the most serious psychological problems because it results in death many times. This is why a lot of people wonder how to prevent anorexia. Let’s see below.

    How to prevent anorexia? Psychology advice

    Anorexia is an eating disorder that has become one of the most prevalent psychological problems in recent decades. Contrary to what many people believe, it’s not just about being extremely skinny, it’s not perceiving the body as it really is, accompanied by a pathological rejection of accumulating fat and an excessive desire to be extremely thin.

    We live in a society which, although it increasingly tolerates taller sizes, the dominant canon of beauty associated with a desired body image is usually that of a thin person. The constant media bombardment of almost skeletal women has led to extreme thinness being associated with something beautiful, causing every woman who does not conform to this canon to automatically be viewed as ugly and loathsome.

    Of course, there are men who can suffer from anorexia, but there are quite a few of them. The canon of male beauty is that of a muscular man, neither lean nor fat. In fact, extreme thinness in men is seen as weakness and lack of masculinity, which is why there are rare cases of anorexic men. In this case, men are often obsessed with being muscular and fibrous, and the associated disorder is vigor.

    But regardless of the number of beauty canons that prevail and the social pressure that may exist, anorexia is a preventable disorder. Of course, it is not easy, but using the right professionals, encouraging good health habits, both diet and sports, and being aware that body image is not everything can keep young people from falling. in the trap of extreme thinness.

    Warning signs

    In order to prevent anorexia, it is very important to know what warning signs can occur. Of course, if everything has been done to prevent it, the first symptoms of anorexia are less likely to appear, but still it is essential to take into account behavior patterns and other aspects that the person may express that tell us that something is wrong.

    Some signs that adolescents can show that, if not properly treated, can end up with anorexia:

    • Eat alone, away from home, or avoid eating with your family.
    • Avoid certain foods, such as fat and high calorie foods.
    • Negotiate rations and chop food a lot.
    • He drinks huge amounts of water, intending to have a full stomach.
    • Go to the bathroom often, especially after meals.
    • He prefers light foods or compulsively chews sugarless gum.
    • Shows concern about the nutritional values ​​of foods.
    • Start exercising compulsively.
    • Excessive concern for weight or physical appearance.

    While all of this does not mean that you are dealing with a case of anorexia, it is very important to detect them and to consider the need to approach the person.

    Since many of these signs show up in the home, parents are the first to spot the problem. That is why it is most appropriate to try to take it a step further, to establish constant communication with the teenager and to deal with the matter calmly. In case the person isn’t receptive, if you trust their friends or other important people in their life, let them know if they’ve noticed anything different about them.

      Prevention of anorexia and family environment

      The home environment is an important factor in preventing anorexia in adolescence. The relationship between parents and daughter or son is crucial, Especially the mother-daughter. The reason is that the mother knows firsthand the physical changes that women go through in puberty, knowing that it is a time of crisis and with ups and downs in self-esteem. Along with that, going to the psychologist as soon as possible reduces the severity of the disorder in case it does eventually manifest itself.

      While teens know they are in a time of change, on many occasions his idea of ​​ideal body image seems to be above his health, And they take risks like stopping eating with the intention of losing weight. For example, in the case of teenage girls, weight changes at these ages are normal and accompanied by body dissatisfaction, fear of being judged by other girls around them and disliking potential partners. .

      The best way to avoid overemphasizing your body image is to not be a recurring theme around the house. In other words, being fat or skinny shouldn’t be a reason to treat that person differently, nor should it be a reason to make fun of them, not even affectionately. As innocent as it sounds, calling a girl “my fat little girl” or making negative comments about her image, at these ages, they can perceive them as real daggers for their self-esteem, obsessed with thinness.

      So, if being fat or thin at home is seen as an important aspect, the teenager will interpret that this is also the case socially, especially given the dominant canon of female beauty. In the family setting, a girl’s weight should only be of concern if there are medical reasons, whether it is overweight associated with metabolic disease or underweight associated with nutritional deficiency. , or suspected of having a metabolic disorder.

      If a deep bond has not been developed with the teenager, before reaching out to her and commenting on our concern for her eating behavior, the relationship will need to be improved. Mom and Dad can plan activities with the teenager, to foster a relationship of complicity and emotional connection, In which the girl is more and more united to share her feelings and experiences with her parents. It is difficult, but to try it you do not lose anything and in the long run everything is a benefit, there are warning signs of anorexia as if there is none.

      The family can help prevent anorexia by incorporating order and organization into the food life of the whole family.. Among the basic rules that must be applied to avoid any eating disorder, you should eat at least three meals a day, have fixed schedules, always eat all together and supervise all meals. The ideal is to speak with a nutritionist and establish a varied and attractive meal schedule for all.

      Can we prevent anorexia from childhood?

      As surprising as it may sound, anorexia can be prevented from childhood. Although girls may not yet manifest the changes associated with puberty, they are influenced by the dominant canons of beauty. It’s quite sad, but already at an early age, like being six years old, they have a prejudice that a beautiful woman should be thin. When they start to be women, this idea will apply and if they look “fat” will be a source of self-esteem..

      This is why, with the intention of countering the harmful effects of the canon of beauty and the obsession with extreme thinness, from an early age, children are educated in good health habits. Your diet should contain the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats, in addition to fighting some food myths, because all fats are bad. The school can educate about good nutrition by offering parents of their students healthy menu ideas, with regular schedules and with all kinds of nutritious foods.

      From an early age, they must learn that to grow taller their bodies need all kinds of nutrients, in addition to regular exercise. Exercise shouldn’t be done with the thought of being slim or muscular, but with being healthy and having a good time. Staying active and eating well are things you don’t think about your body image, but your health.

      It is very important to boost your self-esteem. Although perhaps from such a young age will not have any problems in this regard, the truth is that they can feel self-conscious about their body. We have to teach them that no one is perfect, that just as we have our strengths, we also have our mistakes and that we have to learn to feel comfortable with ourselves. The ideal is to prevent them from feeling complex.

      Fostering their autonomy and being critical is essential to prevent media messages from affecting them. It is not about teaching them to be skeptical about absolutely everything, but teaching them that the television messages are not the absolute truth and that what comes out of them must not correspond to the reality. Just as a movie or series is fictional and may use special effects, advertisements featuring slim models may also have been called upon.


      Eating disorders, and anorexia in particular, are serious issues in our society, especially considering how the canon of female beauty makes extreme thinness considered ideal. People who don’t match that body image are automatically seen as unattractive and even very ugly.

      Anorexia is particularly harmful in adolescenceAs it is during this period that physical changes cause girls to focus primarily on the way they look at themselves in front of others and in front of themselves in the mirror. If they see something they don’t like, especially if they look fat, they can restrict what they eat and, in extreme cases like anorexia, end up undernourished and die. .

      Due to many social factors outside the family or at school or institute, anorexia can be prevented both in childhood and adolescence, although the first signs of it have already been given. . Going to the psychologist is essential in all casesBesides the role of teachers and good communication in the home environment, there are crucial aspects to preventing and reducing the severity of anorexia.

      Good eating habits in the family, coupled with the encouragement of an active lifestyle, being aware that media messages do not correspond to reality and that all bodies can be attractive are very important in the fight against anorexia. In addition, girls should be made to understand that they should care about their body not based on how it looks, but its health, regardless of how thin or fat it is.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Attia, E. (2010). Anorexia nervosa: current state and future directions. Annual review of medicine. 61 (1): pages 425 to 435.
      • Casper, RC (1998). Depression and eating disorders. Depression and anxiety. 8 (1): pages 96 to 104.
      • Hay P. (2013). A systematic review of the evidence for psychological treatments for eating disorders: 2005-2012. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 46 (5): pages 462 to 469.
      • Kaye W (April 2008). Neurobiology of anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Physiology and behavior. 94 (1): pages 121 to 135.
      • Surgenor, LJ; Maguire, S. (2013). Anorexia nervosa assessment: an overview of universal problems and contextual challenges. Journal of Eating Disorders. 1 (1): 29.

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