Case Study – Eating Disorders and Nutritional Needs

Although eating disorders have been around for as long as there have been humans, the extensive research on them has existed for only about thirty years. It is known that there is a distinct and definitive correlation between a diagnosis of depression in the early to late teen years and the development of eating disorders. The three eating disorders that are most commonly studied and/or diagnosed are anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating.

The debate over whether or not obesity should be considered an eating disorder continues; while it is now considered a disease in and of itself, obesity may also become classified as an eating disorder and treated as both a psychological disorder in addition to being a physical problem. For now, it is a medical disorder, as well as a risk factor for a number of serious conditions, but not an eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is diagnosed when a person (predominantly females) refuses to allow her body to be over 85% of the weight that is normal for her height. Psychologically, the person who is diagnosed with anorexia is obsessed with weight and body image and rigidly monitors everything that goes into his or her mouth at every moment, even counting out the calories in the toothpaste that they might use that day. The DSM-IV-TR, the diagnostic tool for the mental health field, has these criteria for diagnosing anorexia nervosa:

– Unable or unwilling to keep body weight at or above 85% of the normal level

– Intense fear of gaining weight or, more importantly, of becoming fat when they are obviously and dangerously underweight

– Obsession with weight and body image to the point of detriment to the self esteem

– The absence of three menstrual cycles in a row

Some anorexics will spend hours exercising, even when they are exhausted and their muscles are hurting. They may not be sleeping correctly and many of them will have heart problems as a result of their extreme weight loss.

Part of her counseling program will be to start eating healthy meals. She will also be treated for the health conditions that she has brought on herself, including the damage that she has done to her intestinal tract. Using the liquid protein shot will help her to keep her metabolism high and keep from being hungry throughout the day. Evelyn will also keep a diary of her trigger foods so that whenever she feels that she might binge, she can find an alternative behavior.

Becca is 43, newly single and a binge eater. She has always been a little overweight, however, in the last few years she has really picked up weight – whenever she has had a bad day or feels lonely, she turns to food for comfort. The food has been increasing in amount and the binges are coming more often as she spirals out of control. Her doctor tells her that she is borderline for hypertension and diabetes and that her cholesterol is completely out of control. She starts a new, healthy dieting plan and starts walking in her neighborhood once a day. To keep herself from feeling hungry, she uses the 25-gram liquid protein shot as a between-meal snack. The protein keeps her from feeling hungry and she gets additional vitamins from the small shot as well.

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