Anorexia nervosa is a disease in which the body mass index (BMI) is 18.5 or less. It develops on a psychological basis. Typical for young women, it is often a result of the notions for a “perfect woman” imposed in the media. The patients with anorexia nervosa are characterized with low weight, unrealistic view for the outlook, obsessive fear of gaining weight, control of body weight by voluntary starvation, induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics.
The disease sometimes is called in the media or even in the scientific literature simply anorexia which is not entirely correct because anorexia (from Greek – an = lack and orexis = appetite) is a medical symptom (lack of appetite).
The reason why anorexia develops is quite individual and should be considered well in this way. The problem is that the relatives notice the disease progression late, because the patients hide themselves well.
Usually, when anorexia is diagnosed, the things are out of control and emergency hospitalization is needed for the physical survival of the patient, not for treating the disease.
It is very important to know that anorexia nervosa precedes diets, it is not their result. At the time a man is found to have this illness, immediate and complex treatment should be initiated. The steps for good results are many but the initial ones include psychologist and dietician, and when talking about hospitalization – internist. None of these specialists can be omitted. Treatment is very long and difficult for both sides. When the problem is once realized and accepted, the patients with anorexia should follow the basic principles for healthy eating and lifestyle:
- Food should be complete, varied and consumed in a pleasant atmosphere without hurry.
- Consume cereals, they are basic energy source.
- Everyday intake of more than 400g of fruits and vegetables, preferably raw.
- Regular consumption of milk and dairy products with normal fat content.
- Choose lean meats. Replace meat and meat products with fish, poultry or legumes.
- Limit the use of salt and salty foods.
- The alcohol should be in moderate amounts.
- Everyday physical activity – walks, swimming, dances etc. is important for appetite maintenance.
- Drink enough water and liquids – around 1.5-2l/day.
- Prepare and store the food in such ways to secure its safety and quality.
The ratio between proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the food should be 1:1:4 in people with moderate physical activity, 1:1:5 in hard workers and 1:1:6 in very high intensity workers; in low intensity and old people – 1:0.8:3. The intake of the so popular functional foods or “super foods” could be quite beneficial:
- Liquid zinc
- Other important minerals are obtained from seaweed and green foods like chlorella, stalks of green barley and alfalfa.
Drawing up the menu is a complex and individual task, so there is no generally valid regimen for all patients. The nutritional regime should be adjusted according the severity of the disease, the individual need for vitamins, minerals and microelements and many other medical parameters. The calories should rise slowly and gradually without stressing the organism. The optimal nutritional regimen is five to six small meals during the day.