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Becoming 'the Best Anorexic Ever'

Battle With Food

'The Best Anorexic Ever' continued...

Hoff says there is currently no clearly superior strategy for treating eating disorders but medical professionals know far more about them than they did even a few years ago. She recommends a team approach to treatment, integrating psychological therapy with medical treatment aimed at restoring physical health.

"A big issue in treatment right now is whether it is necessary to get a sufferer's weight up before working on the psychological issues," she says. "Research suggests that some anorexics can be so physically depleted that they need to be returned to some baseline level of physical health before analysis can be effective. It speaks to the power of this illness that some people are so ill that they can't understand that they need care."

There is a far better chance for recovery, Hoff says, when the illness is identified and treatment is begun early. Friends and family members can have a big impact here, because sufferers rarely acknowledge they have a problem until it can no longer be denied.

"Many sufferers lose their grasp on reality and begin to think that what they are doing is normal," she says. "That is why it is so important that family and friends keep driving home the point that it is not normal. What we hear from people in recovery is that even though they may resist those messages, they are always somewhere in the back of their minds. The messages are there when they start to feel less and less in control and more and more weak."

Recovery from eating disorders is often a long road, she adds, and most people are not able to do it without professional help.

"We often hear from sufferers who have gone to a counselor, but it wasn't the right match and they are ready to give up," she says. "We encourage them to try someone else. Finding someone they trust and can work with is almost more essential than the specific method of treatment."

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