Eating disorder? Maybe it’s an Addiction Let’s talk about it

Being overweight, obese, anorexic, bulimic, or super skinny. How many times have we talked about it? How many times have we recognized the disturbing symptoms of these disorders in people we care about, children, adolescents, adults, or even ourselves? We know the symptoms, but what about the causes? Analysis, diets, medicinal products, physical exercise… there are coded methods for addressing the problem. But what if it were pure addiction? Today we are finally able to count on a different approach to the problem that accurately identifies whether the nature of the disorder is due to addiction, in which case we can take appropriate action. This is what Dr. Sana Barada, pharmacologist, addiction expert and leader of the Team SanaFirenze has to say about it.

Is there really a new way of dealing with weight & eating habits problems?

Yes, there is, we just need to look at it from a different angle. To give a better idea, following are the common questions I have been recently asked by different people.

I know perfectly well what I should and should not eat, I know the value of food and I also understand that I should do some physical exercise. But I am unable to put these ideas into practice. Even though I know my life would change! What can I do to trigger this mechanism?

You are able to see the problem quite clearly but in the know- ledge that you are not behaving accordingly. Yet your nutritional education is correct and you probably also know the psychological reasons that make you eat badly. However you don’t know how to break the chain and interrupt your in- correct habits.

When you are unable to make your behavior coincide with your judgement then there is significant evidence of addiction characterized by a missing link between will and action. In other words, despite being aware of healthy eating habits, you can’t manage to put them into practice.

In this case it is the task of the addiction expert to assist the patient and help him/her to re-establish this connection between judgement and decision at the brain level in order to adopt a more appropriate attitude towards food.

My daughter, who is in eighth grade, has recently been paying greater attention to what she eats. The size that is currently in fashion amongst her friends is extra small. She keeps going on strange diets and has completely eliminated bread, pasta, sweets and oil. What is the dividing line between a healthy control of food and an eating disorder?

The boundary is marked by the number of hours and minutes spent thinking about food and the restrictions that arise from a diet that is incompatible with good health and the constant dissatisfaction with one’s own body image. When the body fails to receive everything it needs due to drastic, at times uncontrollable, personal choices, we are not merely dealing with a healthy control of diet but instead with a real eating disorder.

I have an eight-year old boy who has recently put on too much weight. Is it right to already focus on his nutrition or is he, as some people tell me, "just a kid”? Could the current eating habits of my son have an effect on his health later on in life?

Of course it is right to pay attention to your son’s eating habits at this age! It is never too early to learn good nutrition. I’m not speaking about diet, but rather, food education within a healthy lifestyle. These are the behavioral strategies that allow for reducing the risk, statistically very high, of an overweight child today become an obese adult tomorrow.

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