Eating Disorder Home Treatment Program Article Page.


   Eating Disorders are the Reverse Side of the Child Obesity Campaign

In 2006 the Australian Government launched a $6 million campaign to reduce Child obesity and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomed the focus on kids' health.

The idea was to focus on junk food and get parents to stop the child from eating fast foods, sweets and other unhealthy foods. TV, radio and newspapers were running government sponsored ads to point out the dangers of these kinds of foods, with the idea to get kids eating more healthy foods.

This at the time seemed a very noble cause as overweight kids are a big problem in all western countries. The government was correct that for these overweight kids there was a great risk to their health from diseases such as diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure etc, in later life.

What they did not factor in was the psychological effects on these overweight kids and may have inadvertently created a whole new generation of eating disorder victims.
Kids were encouraged to start diet clubs at school and there have been stories of kids being weighed at school, at times in front of the whole class. We learn of incidents of bullying and social isolation of larger children which is another anecdotal trigger for eating disorders.
What has now happened is a lot of these overweight kids are starting to be ostracized by their peers and so much pressure being placed on them that they are starting to suffer from stress and other psychological ailments, like anorexia and bulimia.

What the so call experts in the government ranks forgot was that the child brain is like a giant sponge and very plastic. It absorbs huge amounts of information forming neuronal pathways with the information that is deemed to be important.

So constant teasing and emotional abuse from other kids for being a bit overweight can have a devastating effect on the child and the way they see themselves, or to put it simply their body image.

This added to the fact that the so called perfect body type is the emancipated Hollywood stars and the super thin catwalk models they see in the media: it is easy for the plastic brain of the child to form a distorted view of reality.

Even shows like Australian Idol and American Idol favor the slimmer better looking contestant, with the bigger contestant voted out of the show even if they are fantastic singers. They just don’t fit that TV mode or what a modern singing idol should look like. This is an extremely bad role model for the slightly overweight child or teenager who watches these shows; it sends a lot of false messages to their brain.

The major problem that arises from all this negative bombardment on the child about weight is the fact that it will be formed in a child brain and formed by child logic, e.g. eating food equals becoming fat, equals being teased, equals bad emotions. So the remedy is to stop eating, loose lots of weight and you will be accepted.

When these kids become adults this faulty distorted thinking will be a full blown case of an eating disorder and extremely difficult to treat because it was formed in the plastic brain of a child with child logic and emotions.
But luckily there have been major breakthroughs in the treatment of eating disorders using the fact that our brains remain plastic even into adulthood, it is call neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is a method where we are able to form new neuronal pathways by using a set of mental exercises built on new positive emotional input. Once these new pathways have been built and are used instead of the old destructive ones, the old pathways will loose their power: hence the eating disorder will disappear.

Will this be easy for this new generation of eating disorder sufferers to do: no absolutely not. The problem as stated is the fact that these faulty neuronal pathways have been build in the child brain and will be extremely hard to shift.

Unfortunately a lot of children will fail and suffer lifelong eating disorders, but luckily a lot of people will succeed using the neuroplasticity approach. Many more than will succeed with this new approach than the conventional treatment used today to treat eating disorders.

William Webster

Neuroplasticity is the key to Eating disorders treatment.

Researchers are now suggesting that neuroplasticity could be the answer to treating eating disorders. They are of the view that our own brains, thoughts and emotions are not rigid or fixed in place. But can be changed in order to treat and even cure eating disorders.

So what is neuroplasticity? Let’s define it.

The first part neuro is for neurone (which are the nerve cells in the brain) and plasticity means plastic or changeable. Neuroplasticity is the property of the brain that allows the brain to change itself.

These changes occur in four ways:
(1) By responding to the world in a certain way

(2) By perceiving the world in a certain way

(3) By acting in the world in a certain way

(4) By thinking and imagining in a certain way.

All these activities can change the brain and the way it functions.

With “directed Neuroplasticity” scientists and clinicians can pass onto the brain a calculated sequence of input and/or specific patterns of stimulation to make desirable and specific changes in the brain for the better.

For example, under certain kinds of stimulation the brains of eating disorder sufferers can be made to stop focusing on food and weight issues and start focusing on other things. By focusing on other things (which is called focused attention) the brain develops new connections between neurons and rewires itself. The old neuronal connections (connections responsible for their eating disorder) will became less and less active and eventually completely replace themselves with the new connections. This is how neuroplasticity works: by deleting old defective neuron connections and developing new healthy ones.

To make it easier to understand, the brain is made up of many chains of neuronal connections. These chains are responsible for producing certain feelings; thoughts and actions that make people do things. And by changing these connections we can change how they feel and act.

Some eating disorder sufferers may say: “Oh well, I’ve been suffering for so long so I have probably done some damage to my brain which is irreversible.”  But according to neuroplasticity principles the damage done does not matter and it can be fixed.

Even if some parts of the brain are damaged, other parts of the brain can take over the function of the damaged parts; by developing new brain connections (or neuronal pass ways) and re-routing them.

Having worked with eating disorder sufferers extensively, I have noticed that many sufferers are aware that what they are doing in terms of eating and dieting does not make sense, and is even doing harm to the bodies.

But they still continue their erratic behaviour because they can’t resist the continuous “voices” in their head telling them that they are fat and must continue with their starvation, dieting, or continue to binge and purge.

When you ask them “What do you think the voice is?” They normally answer that it is their brain telling them to do what they do. But when you tell them that it is not their brain, it is their ED (the faulty wiring) telling them to starve themselves or binge and purge: their thought processes start to change. And when they start focusing on the fact that their eating disorder is something separate from their brain, the changes in their behaviour became more profound.  

To conclude, neuroplasticity is a great tool in the treatment and in the cure of eating disorders: simply because the brain is not static, but is dynamic and always changing.  It undergoes many changes throughout one’s entire life; you do not have the same brain you were born with.

By influencing and directing these changes with the correct program it is possible to change peoples eating behaviour, body image and self-esteem. Neuroplasticity is the solution to all eating disorder sufferers’ problems: change the way you think and you change your life.

Dr Irina Webster MD (retired).

How To Cure Eating Disorders

I have been searching for a great treatment to cure Eating Disorders for a long time because I have a close friend whose daughter Amy suffered badly from Anorexia and then Bulimia.

If you've been interested in finding the answer regarding a cure for an Eating Disorders then this article will help you. You know that eating disorders are conditions brought on when a person associate food e.g.: refusing to eat or on the contrary compulsive overeating and throwing up, with a feeling of being in control, pleasure, truth, confidence etc.

To explain more: the person associates all their good positive feelings, control, pleasure, truth and self-confidence with food. They feel reassured by the control they have over their food intake and use it as a substitute for their lack of control over their feelings in the real world.

So, the question is - how do you go about changing these distorted associations with food and what must be done exactly to get the sufferer to see other avenues for themselves other than their present conditions and misdirected dependence on food. More importantly can we get the sufferer to change at all?

The answer is - Yes, we can.

But how can we do it? - We need to change the meaning she/he has attached to food, to break the endless cycle they find themselves in on to a totally different one: difficult yes, but not impossible.

Actually, all successes attributed to Psychotherapy only ever depends on how quickly people can change the meaning they attach to different things in life.

Here are three Fundamentals to create a new meaning in life (in the case of eating disorder sufferers this is about food and Control):

1) Get leverage. This means you have get to the point where you believe you must change, you must change your eating habits and you MUST change it right now. You must believe that not to change will be more painful and that change will bring you pleasure.

If you only get to the point of thinking that you maybe should change. This is not enough to create a long lasting change in your behavior. Only a definite MUST change will give you leverage.

2) Interrupt the pattern.

This is when you do something totally unexpected in relation to your dominating thoughts in our case food.

For example, when a bulimic person gets a bit stressed by the end of day or feels uncomfortable regarding something - the first thought reaction for her/him would be binge eat and purge (this is the way for her/him) to get pleasure, control and inner confidence.

For anorexic - the thoughts of success and looking good and being confident associated with refusing to eat and starving yourself is their way of dealing with things.

This pattern (thoughts association) needs to be interrupted with some unexpected comment or behaviors which shocks the person into paying more attention to what is going on right here and now in their mind.

For example, I watch on TV once how one American Psychotherapist breaks the thoughts patterns of people with major phobias. One man had a major phobia with spiders (he saw spiders everywhere and was horrified just with his thoughts about spiders).

The Psychotherapist asked the guy: "How do you feel about spiders?"
The man turned pale and looked extremely anxious, and his answer was: "Not very good..." And at this particular moment the Psychotherapist jumped from his chair and started hopping on one foot in front of the man shouting very loudly "Yam, yam, yam, yam," making jerky and funny movements with his whole body.

The man looked stunned, his attention was 100% on the Psychotherapist now, he forgot instantly about his scary feelings regarding spiders.

After jumping and shouting for a minute Psychotherapist stopped, sit on his chair like nothing had happened (he looked normal and was smiling and happily).

After a small pause he asks the man again how he feels about spiders. The man did not answer straight away because he actually needed a few seconds more to bring himself to the state of spider phobia again.
During the few seconds when the man was thinking, the Psychotherapist repeated what he did the first time, making the man completely confused of what's going on.

The Psychotherapist repeated whole procedure quite a few times (5 or 6).

What do you think happen to the man? He was completely cured of his phobia, just from one single Psychotherapy section.

3) Breaking the old associations

An interview with this man taken a few months later was shown on TV as well. In this interview he said that now he does not have scary feelings about spiders any more and he stop seeing them.

He also said that now if someone mentions to him about spiders he laughs, because he has a different association now, he associate spiders with these funny things the Psychotherapist did during the session where he was caught by surprise and even shocked with what had happened.

Another American Psychotherapist I know use to splash cold water people's into faces at the time when people are describing their fears or feelings of bad habits. Again it breaks the association with their habits or phobias.

So the trick is to get the eating disorder sufferer to break their association with food by interrupting their thought processes when they feel compelled to not eat or eat and purge. You just need to workout the most appropriate time to do it. You may not be able to break their eating disorder with one single session but combined this with other things and it will be of great benefit.

You can create lots of ways of interrupting someone's behavioral pattern if you really start thinking about it. For more information go to learn more about eating disorders.

Dr Irina Webster MD (retired) is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognised authority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker.

University of Chicago Medical Center September 7, 2007

Involving Parents In Therapy Doubles Success Rates For eating disorder Treatment

Science Daily — In the first randomized controlled trial for adolescent bulimia nervosa to be completed in the US, researchers show that mobilizing parents to help an adolescent overcome the disorder can double the percentage of teens who were able to abstain from binge eating and purging after six months.

In the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, a team based at the University of Chicago Medical Center show that almost 40 percent of participants in family-based treatment had stopped binging and purging compared to only18 percent of those who received supportive psychotherapy, the standard therapy.

Six-months after treatment, almost 30 percent of participants who received family-based treatment were still abstinent compared to only 10 percent of participants who received supportive psychotherapy, which focuses on issues underlying the eating disorder.

"Parents are in a unique position to help their adolescents," says study author Dr Daniel le Grange, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of Chicago, "yet treatment typically excludes them from the process. Now we have the evidence that we need to bring them back in."

The trial, conducted at the University of Chicago, involved 80 adolescents, aged 12 to 19, with a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa (typically characterized by binge eating and purging) or a strict definition of partial bulimia nervosa.

Forty-one patients were randomly assigned to family-based treatment, and thirty-nine patients were randomly assigned to supportive psychotherapy. Patients from each group made 20 visits to the clinic over a six-month period.

In family-based treatment, parents and at times even siblings attend clinic sessions with the patient. Parents play an active follow-up role at home, encouraging their adolescents to eat as normally as possible, then monitoring them during and after meals to make sure they eat and are not tempted to purge.

"For years parents have been left out of the treatment process," Le Grange said. They often feel guilty about intervening. "But what parent would step aside and play a minimal role in treatment if their child was diagnosed with cancer" Nor should they if a child has an eating disorder. Eating disorders pose serious health hazards."