Eating Disorders for Dummies by Susan Schulherr, LCSW
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Think you—or someone you love—has an eating disorder?

This practical, reassuring guide explains anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder in plain English. You'll also learn about related disorders such as "bigorexia" and compulsive exercise. Informative checklists help you determine your own eating disorder risk. Plus, you'll discover how to assemble a treatment team, find the right therapist, evaluate the latest treatments, and support your own or your loved one's recovery in day-to-day living.

Discover how to:

  • Identify eating disorder warning signs
  • Recognize companion disorders
  • Handle emotional eating
  • Survive setbacks
  • Approach someone who needs treatment
  • Treat disorders in men, children, performers, middle-aged and elderly people and other special populations.

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Eating disorders versus disordered eating

If you lined up all the people in the United States who eat, you'd have a spectrum ranging from Normal Eaters on one end to People with Eating Disorders on the other. The first thing you'd notice about this spectrum is that notthere aren't very many people would be at the Normal Eaters end. Why? In this day and age we have more food than any society before us. At the same time, modern conveniences have cut the need for physical activity to nubbins. And the stresses of modern living often lead to eating patterns that are bound to make us tip the scales. Yet, despite all these trends pushing us to become heavier, as a culture we prefer a slim and fit look. It shouldn't be surprising that it all adds up to some strange relationships with food.

Who's in the middle? Most of the eating spectrum is taken up by people who don't have formal eating disorders but who have eating habits and beliefs that are disordered. Up to 60 percent of adult American women may be disordered eaters. Examples of disordered eating or beliefs include:

  • Skipping meals or fasting to lose weight
  • Cutting out a food group to cut calories
  • Eating to manage emotions
  • Vomiting for weight loss
  • Believing the scales reveal your worth

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Part I: The Eating Disorders: An All-Consuming World of Their Own

Part I helps you really get what eating disorders are about.

  • Chapter 1 gives you the big picture and previews the rest of the book.
  • Chapters 2 to 4 introduce you to the three major eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Each chapter comes with a questionnaire to help you judge whether you're at risk for the disorder described.
  • Chapter 5 reviews the risk factors that make you vulnerable to developing an eating disorder in the first place.
  • In Chapter 6 you can find out about the physical toll eating disordered behavior takes on your body.
  • Chapter 7 describes other psychological disorders that typically accompany an eating disorder, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and compulsive exercise.

Part II: Getting Well: Exploring Recovery and Treatment Options

Part II is your treatment handbook.

  • Chapter 8 provides a map of recovery goals. You'll know what you're aiming at.
  • Chapter 9 goes over all your treatment options. Includes treatment experts and facilities and a discussion of why you might choose each.
  • Chapter 10 helps you pick the approach to individual therapy that's right for you. It takes you right inside an imaginary session for each approach.
  • Chapters 11 and 12 explore additional options: family, couple, and group therapies; support groups; medication; and online treatments.
  • In Chapter 13 I help you think about your own role in using treatment and getting better.
  • Chapter 14 focuses on managing early stage recovery, including dealing with relapse.

Part III: Eating Disorders in Special Populations

This part focuses on special groups in the population who are at high risk for eating disorders or whose eating disorder risk has been under-recognized. I highlight special treatment considerations for each group. These groups include:

  • Men
  • Athletes
  • Dancers, models, and actors
  • Children
  • Middle-aged and elderly people
  • People who are obese

Part IV: Advice and Help for Families and Others Who Care

Part IV provides help for families and other people who care about someone with an eating disorder.
This how-to part includes:

  • Getting informed
  • Approaching someone for the first time about their eating disorder
  • Managing day-to-day life in recovery
  • Checking in with your own well-being and finding the services you may need to support it

Part V: The Part of Tens

This For Dummies tradition is your at-a-glance part for quick ideas to inspire you or keep you on track in recovery.

  • Ten Don'ts remind you of recovery-interfering thoughts and behaviors.
  • Ten Do's give you the other side of the coin: ten thoughts and practices to keep your recovery cooking

Resource Guide

  • Web Sites for Eating Disorder Information
  • Web Sites for Finding Treatment
  • Web Sites for Finding Local Support Groups
  • Finding Online Treatment and Support
  • Web Sites for Size-Acceptance and Self-Esteem
  • Self-Help Books
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Note: Nothing on this site is intended to substitute for competent professional diagnosis and treatment.
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