How Yoga Can Help People with Eating Disorders by Livia Budrys on YogaDigest.com
Yoga can help maintain a strong and healthy body and can also aid in the treatment of mental illnesses, such as eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. Eating disorders are a genetic predisposition triggered by environmental factors or changing events (maybe a new job or a move). It is important to recognize that eating disorders go beyond a simple issue with food – they are a serious mental illness. In fact, anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric disorder.
Anorexia is characterized by an obsessive fear of weight gain and a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight. While it’s not possible to diagnosis an eating disorder by sight, here are some red flags to look out for:
- Even with a good warm up, hands and feet feel cold: circulation is compromised by the eating disorder.
- Repeated fractures: Anorexia can cause osteoporosis.
- Feeling dizzy or faintness: low blood pressure can be an impacted
- Fatigue: metabolism is effected by the restriction of nutritious calories
- Decreased strength and endurance: starvation breaks down the body’s fat and other tissues, particularly muscle.
- Negative body image – comments about own body or others
- Rigid or black and white thinking
- High degree of perfectionism
- Fixation on comparisons
- Difficulty with trying something new
- Difficulty or avoidance with inner practices like meditation and relaxation
- Increased commitment to austerity practices
- Lack of life balance
- Social or community isolation
- Overly focused on the body
Seeking help is the most important, but often times, the most difficult step in the recovery process. Only once someone reaches out can they seek the treatment they need. And early intervention is key to help increase the chances of a full recovery.
ERC Insight's Livia Budrys, LCSW, AM, E-RYT 500, Evanston Site Director and Director of Trauma Services for Insight Behavioral Health Centers, recently published an article on YogaDigest.com: "How Yoga Can Help People with Eating Disorders."