Watching a child suffer is devastating no matter what age he or she is. As a parent, there is always the worry that your child may get mixed up with drugs or alcohol, but watching a child suffer from a food addiction is just as heart-breaking. A food addiction does not necessarily mean that someone is addicted to eating food. It can be described as a pattern of eating that is unhealthy, and one that is affecting the daily life of the person suffering from the addiction. The most common food addictions include anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
Having an unhealthy or abnormal attitude to food can be extremely harmful to health. Anorexics, for example, tend to restrict the amount they eat. Some anorexics will only eat a certain amount of calories per day and others will cut out entire food groups while also exercising excessively in a bid to get as thin as possible. As you can imagine, this type of eating puts an enormous strain on the health and physical wellbeing of those affected.
To see a child struggling with anorexia is something that no parent should ever have to face. Anorexia is similar to other addictions in that the friends and family members of those affected are powerless to help their loved one overcome the situation. Unless the affected individual is ready to get better, all that those that love them can do is stand by and watch as the individual pushes him/herself to the brink of destruction.
Sarah Weddle has spent the last four years watching her daughter Chloe struggle with anorexia, and the heartbroken mother is worried that this destructive illness will eventually take her daughter. Sara is terrified that anorexia will claim the life of Chloe unless her daughter gets the help she so desperately needs.
Despite the fact that Chloe was body-conscious from a very young age, Sarah said it was when she and her husband divorced when Chloe was fifteen that the illness started to take hold. She stated that Chloe found the divorce tough, adding, “A lot of girls who think they’re a bit overweight never become anorexic, but sometimes if a trauma happens to them it can trigger it. I’ve been told they use it as a safety net – Chloe couldn’t control what was happening around her, but she could control what food she ate.”
She said that Chloe is unhappy with her appearance and desperately wants to overcome this food addiction but is really struggling. She added, “It’s a mental illness – it’s not vanity, and it gets a real hold of their mind. It’s like an addiction – they can’t let it go.”
Chloe has already attended NHS eating disorder units over the past two years as an inpatient, and just last year, spent five months in hospital because her weight had dropped dangerously low. Unfortunately, she relapsed after just three months at home.
At the moment, she has a BMI of just 14.5; a healthy BMI is between 19 and 25. Although she eats healthily (fruit and yoghurt for breakfast and fish with salad for dinner), she is not eating nearly enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. Chloe also spends much of her day walking around in order to burn off what she has eaten. Sarah said, “I’ve been trying for four years, but I can’t see an end to it unless she gets psychological treatment.”
Sarah knows that Chloe desperately needs to attend a private residential clinic that specialises in eating disorders, so she is currently fundraising to make this a reality. The treatment Chloe needs is unavailable through the NHS. Sarah believes that the NHS does not have enough funding for the treatment of eating disorders. NHS treatment for food addiction currently includes ‘re-feeding’ to restore weight, but it is psychological treatment that patients really need.
Sarah is terrified that Chloe will die because of anorexia. She said, “People die of anorexia all the time – even people who manage to get out have put their body through so much their heart can’t cope with it.”
Chloe’s liver has already started to show the signs of damage because of the stress the illness has placed on it. Sarah said that Chloe’s body is eating itself in order to get the food it needs. She is worried that Chloe will be unable to fulfil her dreams of becoming a marine biologist unless she gets the help she needs to overcome her food addiction.
Here at UKAT, we understand the importance of counselling and therapy when it comes to treating food addictions. An eating disorder is a mental illness and it is necessary to treat this with a combination of approaches to give the patient the best chance of a successful recovery.
It is vital that patients are helped to identify the cause of their addictive or compulsive behaviour and that they are given the skills to avoid returning to this behaviour in the future. If you or someone you love has been affected by food addiction, contact us today for advice and information on how we can help you to overcome this destructive illness.
If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment program, we guarantee you'll stay clean and sober, or you can return for a complimentary 30 days of treatment.