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At 15 years old, Erika* thought she had found a great way to lose weight over the summer and stay healthy. At first, she received compliments on how she looked and how active she had become. But eventually, her friends knew something wasn’t right.
“They noticed that I was throwing away my lunch. They noticed that I was distracted, isolated, that I walked around during lunch,” said Erika. Her friends tried to drop hints that the way she had been eating and been taking care of herself was, in fact, an eating disorder.
Holiday break is supposed to be just that – a chance for kids to get break from homework and tests. Children are expected to return to school, rejuvenated, ready to learn more. But for some kids, this simply isn’t the case.
For children affected by mental illness, these transitions can be even more difficult. For children with ADHD, it becomes an issue of having to concentrate even harder in order to keep up with new material. For the child with social anxiety, the idea of returning to school can create resistance. For many other children, holiday breaks translate into relief from bullying or social situations where friendships are difficult or nonexistent. Returning to this environment is not something these children look forward to.
It is not unusual for a male to have an eating disorder, as a growing body of evidence indicates that men are as concerned about body image as women.
Males make up approximately 10% of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa eating disorder patients. If you include binge eating disorder, as many as one in four of all eating disorder patients are males.
Be alert to children who are afraid to eat, touch, or be around candy.Eating Disorder Treatment
Halloween is the black and orange day that inaugurates the season of food-centered holidays in our nation. Children and teens get dressed up in their favorite costumes and gather as much candy as humanly possible in a two to three hour period. You have seen kids running from door to door and grabbing handfuls of candy, taking it home, and competing with brothers and sisters by counting how many pieces each one gets. This is totally normal and enjoyable…that is for most kids.
Some children and adolescents, however, do not partake in this event on all Hallows’ Eve. Not due to religious reasons or cultural beliefs, but because they are terrified to eat, touch, or even be around candy. Children and adolescents with eating disorders have extreme fear of eating foods high in calories and fat.
With the support of lead dietitian Kari Johnson, a group of teens in treatment for eating disorders recently tried a seasonal treat: caramel apples. For this particular food challenge, a variety of caramel apples were provided for the group’s snack, including some with nuts and chocolate. The group’s objective was to eat a portion of the caramel apples to fulfill their meal plan. This activity caused the group to become apprehensive at first, because many feared the caramel, nuts and chocolate, thinking that those foods would cause them to gain weight.
School can be stressful and challenging for many young people, and, in some cases, school-related activities can trigger an eating disorder. Nearly 15 percent of the patients at the inpatient eating disorders treatment program for children and adolescents at Rogers Memorial Hospital trace triggers for their eating disorders to school programming.
Pictionary, food models and meal outings are just some of the eating disorder treatment tools the 16 dietitians at Rogers use to help each patient learn tools they can use to make healthy food choices in any situation.
Theodore E. Weltzin, MD, FAED, medical director of Eating Disorder Services for Rogers, explains the importance of including dietitians on the specialized eating disorder treatment teams at Rogers.
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