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It is important for a client who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder to get adequate nutrition and, in many cases of bulimics, to eat enough but not purge. Eating disorders can generate many nutrient deficiencies that my further exacerbate the progress of the individual.
According to a student in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1985, p. 450), individuals with both bulimia and anorexia are likely to report cravings for sugar. People with bulimia in particular eat more sweets and carbohydrates than do healthy individuals and this consumption increases during binges. Studies suggest that purging can potentially result in low blood sugar, which in turn might stimulate appetite or cause changes in mood and behavior. This may ultimately lead to more bingeing.
The last 15 years have produced research and literature associating zinc deficiency with anorexia, especially in teenage girls. Safai-Kutti (1990, pp. 14-17) demonstrated in a study that anorexic girls (between the ages of 14 and 26) who are given zinc supplements experience a halt to their weight loss, the return of menstruation and, in some case, and increase in weight. The authors of this study also hypothesized that a teenage girls; diet may have a role in the development of an eating disorder if the teen has a poor diet. A poor diet will deplete the body of zinc stores when zinc is need the most, during a critical time of growth and development. It is also interesting to note that reduced appetite, taste, and smell; commonly associated with a zinc deficiency are symptoms that may also occur in anorexic and bulimic individuals.
Finally, it may be prudent to suggest a broad spectrum multivitamin, multimineral supplement to clients with eating disorders, as according to Rock (1995, p. 257), restricting food intake can set the stage for additional nutrient deficiencies, including a reduced B vitamin and antioxidant status.
Safai-Kutti, S. (1990). ACTA oral zinc supplementation in anorexia nervosa. Psychiatr. Scand., Suppl., 361 (82), 14-17.
Rock, C. L., & Vasantharajan, S. (1995). Vitamin status of eating disorder patients: Relationship to clinical indices and effect of treatment. Int J Eat Disord, 18, 257-262.