Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Reducing Your Risk of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a complex mix of many factors. They involve your environment, friends, and family. There is no way to prevent an eating disorder. But, having healthy attitudes toward food and your body can help with your awareness and self-esteem.

These will help you with healthy attitudes:

  Maintain a Healthy Weight and Body Image

Work on getting yourself to a healthy weight. This will help you with a positive body image. When you feel fat, ask yourself if your life would really be changed much if you were underweight. Would you be more successful and popular, or feel more loved? The things you want from life have little to do with how much you weigh. Remember, being thin doesn't equate to 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

Don't go on diets, even if you need to lose weight. Make a meal plan that gives you enough nutrients for normal health and growth. You can work toward a healthy weight by lowering your intake of high fat foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. You should also eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein. A dietitian can help you with a realistic meal plan that works for you.

Regular exercise will help you keep a healthy weight. Aim for 30-60 minutes, 3-5 days a week. A trainer can help you with a plan.

  Seek Help If Needed

The sooner you know there's a problem, the earlier you can get seek help. Talk to your doctor if you:

  • Eat and feel like you don't have control.
  • Are obsessed with being thin and losing weight.
  • 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.

If you're being treated for a mental health problem, stick with your plan.

REFERENCES:

Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114614/Anorexia-nervosa. Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Binge eating disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T563461/Binge-eating-disorder. Updated June 15, 2017. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114924/Bulimia-nervosa. Updated July 16, 2018. Accessed September 6, 2018.

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_strategies.html. Accessed September 6, 2018.

Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD  Last Updated: 9/6/2018