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How to Help Anorexic Children

Sep 10, 2008
What we understand from our personal experience coping with a child suffering from anorexia is that there isn't one single definitive guide or course of action for you and your child to follow that will guarantee a solution to their eating problems.

Your attitude and beliefs about children and teenagers and the interaction of the parents affect the way you respond to your child.

You should understand that you are not responsible for your child's illness as well as you should understand that your child turned to an eating disorder for emotional comfort and is in emotional pain, though she/he may not recognize it.

Remember, that if one approach for coping with your child's illness does not work there is always another way.

What I want to say is that people who develop eating disorders are absolutely normal. Just something happens in their lives that make them really suffer emotionally and they turn to an eating disorder to compensate for this emotional discomfort.

Anorexia like other eating disorders is not about food. Anorexia is disorder of feelings, thoughts, identity, values, relationship, coping and control.

If you fix all of the above or change these feelings to new ones (like positive feelings and thoughts, strong sense of identity and values, good coping and control strategies, high self-esteem) you can conquer anorexia.

Only then will the young anorexic be able to recover from an eating disorder quickly.

I should say that affecting someone's subconscious mind is not a quick process. It will take some time. But if you are persistent you will definitely see a significant improvement in your child's state within a few months after beginning and doing the exercises above.

How does it work, you may ask? Here is the short and simple explanation. Our brain consists of two halves (called hemispheres). Both hemispheres are covered by a thick layer called the Cortex. The Cortex is the conscious part of the brain, the part we think with (logical thinking). But this part of the brain is not responsible for our feelings.

We have another small part of our brain which lies between the two hemispheres and connects them. This little part is called the limbic system. The limbic system, as discussed in the next section, is involved in regulating emotions and motivations. In addition, parts of the limbic system, the amygdala and hippocampus, are important for memory.

This part (The limbic system) does not have consciousness (no thoughts only feelings). It was found that people with emotional problems have an imbalance of the limbic system. The question is: how to influence the limbic system and put it in the right balance?

The answer is: the cortex which is the conscious part of the brain should influence the limbic system which does not have conscious thought. The cortex, which makes the decisions for us, learns new things, and understands things for us should influence the non-conscious part of the brain by giving signals to the limbic system to work differently.

Most eating disorders are learned behavior. Initially the sufferer taught themselves to diet to become slim. Initially it was their own conscious decision to lose weight because they wanted to look better. This conscious decision was made by their cortex and sent to their limbic system which gave them the feelings (like feeling good about yourself if you became slim).

So, what you need to do is reverse this: to say in other words you have to get the sufferer to change their perception (or their cortex). They should make another decision (about changing their own image and feelings that they have now, like starving them self or purging, back to a normal response) and send this signal to their limbic system to foster good feelings about their new decision they have just made.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker.To learn about anorexia help go to http://www.mom-please-help.com
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