"Signs and Symptoms:"
Medical experts tend to focus on BMI [Body Mass Index} or body weight as a primary criterion for both the diagnosis and treatment of anorexia. Although important, the "addictive" aspects of the disorder as well as the pervasive preoccupation with food and dieting are equally important. In many respects, there exists an addictive relationship with weight loss [restricting caloric intake] and/or the maintenance of an unrealistic [unhealthy] body weight despite the medical and emotional consequences. Below is a list of some of the more prominent signs and symptoms associated with either the "restricting" or "purging" types of anorexia.
- Persistent preoccupation with food and /or dieting.
- Obsessive thinking about calories, weight, nutrition
- Continued "dieting" or "restricting" despite consequences
- Compensatory behaviors [purging, exercising, etc.] before/after eating
- Unusual "rituals" or rules regarding food and eating
- Confused or "distorted" body image - body dysmorphia
- Self-Esteem and 'mood' is primarily a function of how thin you are
- Exaggerated fears with respect to weight gain or becoming overweight - losing control
Treating Anorexia at Milestones
In common with most eating disorders, there exists an addictive or "dependent" relationship between the individual and their relationship with food, dieting, or behaviors affecting their body weight. In fact, many of the "signs and symptoms" of anorexia simulate many of the criteria listed by the American Psychiatric Association characteristic of a "substance dependency." In this case, the substance is instead a set of "anorexic" behaviors,
The program offered at Milestones is comprised of two primary components, making the treatment experience unique when compared to most programs.
The first is the setting. Apartment-style residences afford residential participants an opportunity to experience treatment in a "real world" environment. Participants grocery shop with our dietitian, prepare their own meals per the prescribed food plan they have formulated with the dietitian, attend a full schedule of groups and individual therapies at our clinical campus [near the residential complex], attend local community support groups in the evenings, and visit with our physicians and clinical staff regularly throughout their stay. In effect, the experience is one of providing a supportive and structured setting without the restrictive elements of a "hospital" or institutional type of facility.
The second is our treatment philosophy. Milestones approaches treatment from a more "holistic" perspective. The food plan suggested by Milestones is a blend of structured eating with a combination of healthy, whole foods that are bought and prepared by participants with the guidance and supervision of our dietitian and ancillary staff. In brief, participants select their own food preferences within the guidelines of their individual food plans. Although prescribed portions may vary depending on the nutritional needs of the individual, the food plan is designed with the notion of being in the service of restoring and maintaining emotional and physical health.
Therapies at Milestones are targeted with an emphasis on practical living and coping skills and not necessarily reliant upon a constant revisiting of past events and the need to develop greater "insight" as to the cause of an eating disorder. To be clear, the therapeutic process at Milestones places the emphasis on the solution rather than a repeated attempt to over-analyze the problem. Cognitive behavior therapy, evidence based treatment approaches, and practical living skills are some of the key elements of the program. Being able to put into practice what is experienced while in treatment when returning home is the goal of any credible treatment for an eating disorder.