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Reducing Your Risk of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a complex mix of several factors influenced by your environment, friends, and family. Because of this, there are no guidelines to prevent an eating disorder. However, having healthy attitudes toward food and your body can help with your awareness and self-esteem.

The following steps can help you develop such healthy attitudes:

  • Maintain a healthy weight and body image.
  • Maintain a rational approach to dieting, food, and exercise.
  • Seek help if needed.

Maintain a Healthy Weight and Body Image

Work on developing and maintaining a healthy and realistic body image and weight. During the times when you feel fat, ask yourself if your life would really be much different if you were underweight. Would you automatically be more successful, popular, and loved? Realize that the things you want to achieve in life have little to do with being underweight and more to do with setting and achieving realistic goals. Remember that being thin does not equal being happy. Know that media images are not realistic and are designed in a manner for you to buy a product.

Maintain a Rational Approach to Dieting, Food, and Exercise

Do not diet, even if you need to lose weight. Rather, you need a meal plan that gives you adequate nutrition for health and normal growth. You can work toward a healthy weight by limiting your intake of high fat foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. You should also eat whole grains , fruits, vegetables , and protein . If you need help planning your diet, a registered dietitian can help.

Also, make sure you get regular, but not excessive, exercise. This can help you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day on most days of the week.

Seek Help If Needed

Earlier recognition and treatment result in better outcomes. Talk to your doctor if you:

  • Eat and feel like you are out of control
  • Think your desire for thinness may be getting out of control
  • Have feelings of anxiety that occur on more days than not for at least 6 months
  • Have feelings of depression that last at least 2 weeks
  • Think you may be developing an eating disorder

If you are being treated for a mental health disorder, follow your treatment plan.

Revision Information

  • Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114614/Anorexia-nervosa. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed October 6, 2016.

  • Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114924/Bulimia-nervosa. Updated June 8, 2016. Accessed October 6, 2016.

  • Pratt BM, Woolfenden SR. Interventions for preventing eating disorders in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(2):CD002891.

  • Prevention strategies. PBS website. Available at: http://www.pbs.org/perfectillusions/eatingdisorders/preventing%5Fstrategies.html. Accessed May 18, 2016.