July 30, 2009 Dr. Dawn Bantel

Gut Reactions: Eating Disorders and Digestion

Dr. Dawn BantelI don't think that I've ever met an eating disordered client that didn't struggle with digestive issues. The digestive tract is directly affected by binging, purging and restricting. The discomfort from digestive problems is a common obstacle to recovery. It's such a challenge for women to adhere to their meal plans when their bodies are rebelling.

Women with eating disorders often experience heartburn, indigestion, gas, bloating and constipation. Fortunately, naturopathic supplements are very effective in assisting efficient digestion. Using digestive enzymes with meals assists in the breakdown of foods. A probiotic supplement can reduce gas, bloating and constipation. Drinking aloe vera juice can calm heartburn. And I often prescribe a magnesium citrate supplement to ensure regularity.

The whole foods approach is healing in itself. Whole foods supply needed fiber. Many people have too little fiber in their diets. I may encourage the use of ground flax meal to increase one's fiber intake. Water is important for regularity, especially in the desert environment. A minimum of half your weight in ounces should be ingested each day.

Finally, the most important "supplement" is reducing stress and anxiety. Our program emphases the creation of stress-management tools for each client. Yoga, bodywork and healthy exercise are encouraged as lifestyle changes. I also help women train their bodies by allowing regular bathroom time. These are all important and effective components of healthy digestion.