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The Following is a list of questions frequently asked by those who are
We hear this question quite frequently. The thing is, if you even have
to ASK whether or not you are 'sick enough', it's a good sign that you
need help. If your eating habits are interfering with your life, your
happiness, your confidence, and your sense of well-being, you've got a
problem that deserves attention.
A big misconception about ED treatment- especially inpatient treatment-
is that only the very skeletal individuals need to be there. However,
most inpatient facilities take in patients at a wide range of weights,
from emaciated to average to overweight. While it is common for the
general media (and even some recent documentaries) to focus on the most
skeletal-looking patients, this is NOT an accurate representation of
'typical' eating-disordered individuals. The media will always portray
the most dramatic images they can find. As a result, people often have
a skewed view of what to expect in a treatment program.
The main goal of inpatient treatment is to provide medical monitoring
and intervention. Those who purge everything they eat, those who have a
significant amount of weight to restore, those who are malnourished, or
those who have electrolyte or heart abnormalities should ALL get
inpatient treatment, regardless of current weight.
It is also important to realize that the majority of the work of
recovery happens AFTER a person can be deemed 'medically stable'. Do
NOT avoid seeking treatment if you are not (yet) medically unstable.
You have just as much work to do, and you need just as much support.
This question covers a few distinct issues, but this sort of situation
is not entirely uncommon. For ways to deal with insurance coverage
issues, click here.
If, after exhausting every possible option, you find yourself unable to
get into an ED-specific treatment program, seek out the 'next best'
An ED treatment program normally provides the following basic parts:
Nutritional information and meal planning, Individual and group
therapy, Medical monitoring, Support during and after meals,
Occupational or Art Therapy or something similar, Psychiatric care.
Many people who cannot get intensive eating-disorder treatment can get
at least SOME parts of what would normally be offered by seeking
elsewhere. For example, a person could see a medical doctor on a
regular basis to have their electrolytes checked and an EKG. If you
have NO insurance coverage, some sliding-fee scale medical services
such as free clinics, Planned Parenthood, and others often offer lab
tests at a fairly low cost. Do some checking to see what may be
available in your area.
Many communities may offer walk-in counseling, community support groups
(check www.anad.org for a list of groups in your area), or sliding-fee
For support during and after meals, don't be afraid to get creative.
Enlist the help of your friends and/or family. Let them know what they
can do to help. Make an effort to eat in social situations as often as
you can. If you live in the Twin Cities area, you can also attend group
eating experiences sponsored by The Joy Project. The Joy Project's
founder actually found that working 11-hr shifts at a daycare center
where breakfast, lunch, and snack were served was a better-than-nothing
alternative to a partial treatment program.
For this answer, click here
Eating, hunger, and
fullness are all balanced by various forces. If you starve, you'll get
If you eat, you won't be as hungry. The body has an amazing array of
can use to get you to eat- even if you consciously are trying not to.
live without food, and your body won't let you.
Eating habits are a lesson in BALANCE. You don't want to eat too much
little. You want to be somewhere in the middle.
Imagine balancing a see-saw. Imagine that you decide that you don't
end of the see-saw, so you run over to the other end to avoid it. But
your end hits the ground. The thing is, you have to keep the see-saw
So...how do you get your end off the ground?
Imagine you start by running ALL THE WAY over to the other side. What
*Thunk*- the other end hits the ground, right? Is it balanced? Nope.
This is the same with eating habits. Imagine that you starve for days.
hungry. You decide you don't want to starve anymore. You binge.
*thunk*. You decide
you ate too much, so you starve. *thunk* on the other side. You get
and want to balance things out, so you stuff yourself with food.
So, what's the solution to balancing the see-saw? Aim for the middle.
there. Allow the see-saw to swing up and down a bit on its own until it
settles. Remember that the process of balancing something like a scale
see-saw means that if you push down on one end and let go, it's not
just go right back to the middle. It'll swing up to the other side,
again, then to the other side again, with the swings getting smaller
smaller each time, until it finally settles in the middle.
This is what happens in recovery. You've starved for a long time and
your body into a state where it is STARVING. It's initial reaction will
it will want to eat and hold on to as much food as possible. This DOES
LAST. This is TEMPORARY. If you compensate, you'll be back to the
cycle. If you resist the urge to compensate, it will balance on its
went up will go down again. Eventually, the extremes will stop. The
will be less extreme.
It's incredibly difficult to just 'hang in there' while this balancing
is happening. But it DOES work. I promise!