Before we can hope to answer the question posed by the title, first, a caveat. Because the causes of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are so complex and so personal, no single treatment is best for everyone.

Just as the path to ill health is individual, so must be the cure. In the end, only a trained professional — after consultation — can create a tailored treatment for you or a loved one.

That said, it is possible to do two things: (1) say with some confidence which eating disorder treatments are actually harmful, (2) which ones are likely to be safe and helpful for most sufferers.

Outlining the first category is definitely easier. Sadly, eating disorders aren't just psychological problems, tragic as that would be. They have real, physical affects, sometimes long-lasting ones. That means, beyond delving into why someone engages in this self-destructive behavior, it involves first healing the body.

Many traditionally trained physicians tend to rely heavily on drugs for that purpose.

To be sure, the doctors mean well and some of the drugs prescribed can be both safe and even essential. The body benefits from a little carefully tailored assistance at times. Anyone who has suffered from a cold knows that.

But the physical effects of an eating disorder typically go far beyond the damage done by a temporary virus. That's especially true when the condition is one of long standing. So, the drugs prescribed are sometimes more powerful, and therefore may have more serious side effects.

For example, a series of B vitamin shots can be highly beneficial to someone who has had seriously harmful eating habits for a long time. But such people also tend to have underlying issues that cause or contribute to the eating disorder, such as clinical depression. Anti-depressants have their place. But they can create a dependency that is only slightly less worrisome than the eating disorder.

So, the moral is: be very careful about taking any single therapist's advice about prescription drugs. Get a second or even a third opinion. Don't be afraid to ask probing questions. It's your health. Take an active role in restoring it.

The positive question is a little tougher to answer because, as we said at the outset, the causes of eating disorders are so varied. But, within that variety, there are some patterns.

Once past the initial stage of treating the physical aspects, eating disorder treatments focus on counseling. You might think that just talking can do no harm. But that depends, clearly, on the advice given.

Fortunately, the most popular eating disorder treatments involve something called cognitive therapy. That's a fancy way of saying they focus on reducing self-destructive thoughts and instilling positive ones in their place. The theory is that leads to more healthy behavior, and statistics back up that view.

Nothing could be safer than replacing harmful (mis)perceptions with healthy ones.

Of course, the devil is in the details. How individual therapists do that can be almost as distinctive as the person he or she treats. Most, however, will follow at least a few of the following guidelines:

Focus on changing underlying thoughts, not on superficial symptoms like weight or eating habits;

Focus on exploring how shame so often leads to those irrational perceptions

Encouraging realism about the past, present, and future

Encouraging self-acceptance

Luckily, it doesn't require any professional expertise to evaluate the safety of these techniques. Simple common sense will do. How effective they are depends, as always, on the level of the patient's commitment to becoming well. There's no safer eating disorder treatment than that.

Author's Bio: 

The above article is based on the book, "Winning Overeating" by Ofira Shaul. Ofira is a Naturopathy doctor .This experiential, self-development leader has devoted her life to finding the best natural way to obtain permanent weight loss while improving the total quality of your life. Her all-natural program does not require you to use any pills, count calories, or starve yourself.
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