Advice for Young Anorexics and Bulimics by Dr. Tina Dupres

Dr. Tina Dupres is best known for her expertise in the areas of
anorexia and bulimia, especially in teens. She has written three books
on the subject, 1997s The Fat Girl in the Mirror: A Study of Anorexia
and Bulimia and 2001s Wasting Away: Real Issues of Anorexia and Bulimia
in Teenagers. Her newest, and perhaps most controversial book, Anorexia
and Bulimia: A Practical How-To Guide for Teens will be released in
early 2005. For more information, go to

While it would be ideal if all women with weight problems could start a
program of eating right and exercising, many people have problems
losing weight with that approach. In my more than twenty-five years of
practicing medicine, I have discovered that some people can actually
benefit from anorexia and/or bulimia. I am often shocked at the
misconceptions surrounding these subjects. In this article, I would
like to clear up some of these mistaken beliefs and give you a preview
to my new book coming out in February of 2005.

People often
assume that anorexia and bulimia are unhealthy choices made by
teenagers with low self esteem. Not only can anorexia and bulimia be
healthy, they can be terrific time-savers to get the body of ones
dreams. Under a physicians care, this can be a viable alternative to
the drudgery of a traditional diet.

I often start out a session
with a new patient by asking the question, do you think that youre fat?
Most young girls in therapy will answer that yes, they are indeed fat.
I always tell them that knowing theyre fat puts them on the right track

The next question is, what are you going to do about it?

You have to decide whats best for you - anorexia or bulimia. In some
cases, a combination of the two works well. Anorexia nervosa is
described as a serious disorder in eating behavior characterized by a
pathological fear of weight gain that usually leads to malnutrition and
excessive weight loss. The key is to have some idea of how nutrition
works before you get started.

Do you have the discipline to
starve yourself? If you do, then anorexia may be right for you. The
trick is to make sure to eat something everyday. A lot of girls try to
eat nothing for days at a time. This can lead to fainting, exhaustion,
and malnutrition. You should eat something that is nutritious once a
day, like a bowl of broccoli. Broccoli is a catabolic food, which means
that it releases energy and results in the breakdown of complex
materials. In other words, it burns up more calories than it supplies.
For example, if you eat a medium sized apple which is about 85
calories, your body uses 99 calories to digest it.

Bulimia is
defined as an eating disorder that is characterized by compulsive
overeating usually followed by self-induced vomiting or laxatives. If
you love to eat, this is usually the best option. You just have to
decide whether you want to throw up or use laxatives. The great thing
about throwing up is that you have total control. Within thirty minutes
of eating, one can throw up and get back to the rest of the day.
Laxatives have a way of working when least expected. If youre on a road
trip, you might not appreciate the laxatives controlling you when you
have to stop. The beginning bulimic does not usually have the knowledge
to throw up an entire steak dinner. You should start slowly, perhaps by
throwing up a can of soup. It is by far the easiest thing to vomit.

As your experience and confidence builds, try to throw up larger and more complex meals.

The other thing that I often hear girls say is that the laxatives they
are using dont work. When you use laxatives everyday, it is imperative
to start gradually upping the dosage. The Barbi twins were taking
between 70-80 pills a day before they finally sought treatment. It
takes that kind of control to make this work! I also hate it when girls
say that they ate three grilled cheese sandwiches and blame their
problems on the laxatives. Again, its basic nutrition. Cheese
constipates, making it much harder to defecate. If you find that youre
eating a lot of constipating food, vomiting is always the right choice.

One final thing about vomiting, it should be used as a short term plan
to get you to your long term goal--anorexia. People who have been
bulimics for years can usually be spotted by their teeth. There is so
much stomach acid in vomit that it can actually eat through the enamel
of the teeth. For this reason alone, I dont recommend it for more than
six months. Once you have lost a great deal of the weight youre trying
to lose, I would go with starvation.

Many bulimics find that
they are unable to starve themselves, which is why a program of
exercise anorexia often works best. If you can get to a gym and work
out for at least four hours everyday, then you really can eat whatever
you want. Some teens I treat say that they just cant find the time to
work out that much. It can be easily accomplished if you can work out
two hours before school and two hours after. Another benefit to the
exercise anorexic is that this can foster amenorrhea, the abnormal
absence of menstruation. How great is that? Not only can you be skinny,
you can keep your periods from interfering with your life.

These are just some of the techniques that are explored in my new book,
Anorexia and Bulimia: A Practical How-To Guide for Teens, available in
stores soon. Remember, any time you are going to begin a program of
anorexia or bulimia, you should consult a physician first.