Our expert says:
There are so-called 'classical signs of anorexia, namely: Very low body weight with a BMI of less than 18; Excessive dieting and/or exercise; Skewed perception of one's own body - anorexics are convinced they are overweight even when the are just skin and bone; Loss of menstruation in women; Obsessive interest in food; Use of harsh laxatives to purge the body after eating; Feelings of guilt after eating. If your friend exhibits 2 or more of these signs, then she may well be suffering from anorexia and need expert help.
Eating Disorders need to be treated with a team approach. Patients should consult a clinical psychologist (they are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Psychologists' or they can ask their gp to refer them), to help them work out what underlying psychological problems are driving them to self-destruct and to learn most positive ways of dealing with these problems. They should also consult a clinical dietitian to assist them to get back to eating normally again. Encourage your friend to visit the Association for Dietetics in SA Website at: www.adsa.org.za and click on "Find a Dietitian" to find a dietitian in your area. If she is in Gauteng then it may help to contact Tara Hospital as they have an Eating Disorder clinic (phone (011) 783-2010. In Cape Town and environs she can contact the Kenilworth Clinic (021) 797-1400 and in KwaZulu Natal there is Riverview Manor (033) 701-1911, or she can contact them on: www.riverviewmanor.co.za
If your friend does suffer from anorexia or another eating disorder such as bulimia, then it is vital that she should get expert help ASAP.
However, some people are naturally very thin and usually eat large quantities of food without gaining any weight. If your friend does eat well and is still very thin, then do refer her to a dietitian to assist her in gaining some weight.
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