4 tips to prevent anorexia and bulimia

4 tips to prevent anorexia and bulimia

Anorexia and bulimia today affect between 150 and 200 thousand women in the country alone and represent the leading cause of death from illness among young Del Paesene girls aged between 12 and 25: these are the data released by Sisdca, Società Del Paesena for the study of eating disorders, in a release today.



But it is possible to intervene from childhood: Giovanni Porta, a Roman psychotherapist, intends on the one hand to help parents in the prevention of these disorders and on the other to promote awareness of public opinion on the problem of eating disorders.



It leads that "the causes of the onset of eating disorders can be many. Some factors are external to the family, and concern for example the context that the person (often adolescent) lives outside the home, for example school and friendships; moreover, it is difficult for this type of disorder to arise without a trigger, that is to say a difficult or stressful episode that involves the person. you can do prevention, starting with small things ".

Here four tricks, developed by Porta, to help parents act in such a way as to prevent the onset of eating disorders in children:

1) Help your child, when he is little, to name his emotions and needs

It may seem obvious, but teaching the child to name various emotional states, and teaching him to relate them to what is happening to him, is an important way to develop a sense of self-efficacy that will gradually allow him to recognize. independently his needs and emotions, and try to satisfy them himself, if possible, or by asking for help from some adult.



Parents of people who develop anorexia have, during their childhood, a style of care that is almost entirely physical and not at all emotional, that is, they have satisfied the physical needs of the child without however bothering to educate him in contact with emotions. One of the worst possible consequences of such behavior is that the child, having not learned to give importance to their emotions and needs, has serious difficulties in listening to the sensations of their body, including the sense of hunger, as well as presenting a worrying "alexithymia", that is the difficulty or inability to verbally express what one feels, a fundamental quality in interpersonal relationships (for further information see the book Ammaniti M., Mancone A., Vismara L. (2001) "The quality of attachment in food disorders").

2) Don't blame yourself

Every emotion has a purpose, in nature, and is activated in particular cases. The onset of emotions cannot be controlled, instead it is the responsibility of the person what he chooses to do but he cannot choose not to feel what he feels! Condemning less socially acceptable emotions, such as anger or pain, does not improve the situation of those who feel them, quite the contrary.



The families of origin of both anorexic and bulimic patients are often very attentive to appearances, and when the children show malaise, it is not managed and resolved, but ignored or worse blamed. Using expressions such as "ashamed" or inducing guilt is potentially very destructive to the person's self-esteem. Faced with a non-acceptance of their emotional experiences, people who then develop an anorexic disorder distance themselves from the emotional world, are convinced that they have to do "alone", and become rigid and perfectionist, while people who develop bulimic characteristics - not having experienced any form of acceptance and management of their own unpleasant experiences - they resolve these moods by binging uncontrollably, and in this way seeking relief from states that they cannot manage.

Read also the special on the health and on the diseases of the child and the special education and psychology 3-6 years

3) Accept your child's anger, without judging

Anger is a particular emotion: it "turns on" when our space (physical or psychic) ​​is invaded, or when our expectations are disappointed. The deepest anger, however, is that generated by a mixture of sadness and helplessness. This last type of anger is very evident in anorexics, who for years have seen their needs for acceptance and understanding frustrated, having in front of them parents who are not very empathetic and are mostly interested in doing well the task of their physical care.

Over time, being that, in childhood, it is not possible to consciously hate the people on whom one is dependent in order to survive, they turn this deep hatred against themselves in an unconscious way, generating even serious symptoms, which can jeopardize their life. In practice, having given up being emotionally nourished, they are satisfied as the family custom dictates to save appearances, seeking the approval of others instead of affection.

4) Try to reassure fears, not to generate them

The parental figures of many bulimics often generate confusion, as sometimes they are reassuring and available, other times they generate fear, through inappropriate or violent behavior, or because they are prey to their own fears that pass on to their daughters. Even if you are a parent, it does not mean that you are not afraid or discouraged, there is nothing wrong with that.

But don't forget to nourish yourself, and build a place for yourself to be reassured, if necessary, and nourished. This place can be the relationship with the partner, with friends, with other reference figures. If you don't have any of these people, ask for help from a professional, but don't let your anger and fears weigh on your children, especially when they are young. Children are like sponges, and they absorb everything in the house. If you think you are in this situation, do not forget to get help from someone you trust, if necessary, before dedicating time to your children.

Who is Giovanni Porta

Psychotherapist psychologist of Gestalt orientation, he is an expert in poetry and theater. He lives and works in some city. For years he has been creating workshops and paths in which art is used for therapeutic purposes. Graduated in Psychology at the University of Padua, he subsequently specialized with a master in "Use of artistic techniques in the helping relationship", has a specialization in Gestalt Psychotherapy at the IGF of the city, and one in "Theater and Psychiatry".

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  • psyche
  • anorexia
  • bulimia
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  • children education
  • 3-5 children years
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