Diet and Mood

Eating disorders often begin with diet. A person with low self-esteem attempts to feel better by dieting to look slimmer, perhaps in an attempt to conform to the current societal ideal (slender for women; lean and muscular for men).

Sometimes dieting gets out of control and the dieter feels that “thin” is never thin enough and continues restricting food intake, firmly convinced that he/she is fat, even at low body weight.

Eating disorders are often an attempt to regulate mood. Ironically, acting on the eating disorder often has the opposite effect. Changes in brain biochemistry can intensify sleep and mood disturbances and appetite by dysregulation. Obsessive thoughts about food, weight, and appearance increase as the eating disorder intensifies. Further, persons with a family history of mood disorders, chemical dependency, and/or eating disorders appear to be a higher risk for the development of eating disorders. These suspected neurotransmitter dysregulations may be treated with anti-depressant and/or other appropriate medications.

Although medications can be helpful, they do have side effects and not all patients can tolerate them. Medications are not a cure because eating disorders result from a combination of bio-psycho-social factors which demand multi-disciplinary treatment. Even circadian and seasonal rhythms can affect brain biochemistry and it is possible that traditional Chinese acupuncture may be helpful in regulating these biochemicals and reducing cravings.