Eating Disorders: The Elephant In The Room
Unhealthy eating patterns lead to an eating disorder. This is very common among teenage girls who are obsessed about becoming thin, and start harming their body by not eating. Poor nutrition harms their body organs. This is a very serious problem as it affects them mentally as well, and leads to depression and anxiety. An eating disorder can be overeating as well.
When a person finds refuge in food to cover their mental disturbance, then they are suffering from an eating disorder.
The three most common types of eating disorder are:
• Compulsive eating
This is a psychological disorder, mostly seen in teenage girls, as a result of low self esteem or emotional or physical abuse. Obsession to become thin is the main reason for these people to start over dieting. The more they lose weight, the more they have the drive to push further. They stop worrying about their body, and they become only interested in losing weight. They starve so as to take control over the body. They start neglecting their health, which can sometimes even lead to death. This disorder is also a type of addiction.
They develop psychological fear of food and fatness, which leads them to the extent of vomiting out anything and everything that they eat. Some people also start using laxatives to reduce weight. No matter how thin they grow, they are never satisfied.
This is also similar to anorexia, where the person becomes obsessed with growing thin. Here the person may binge on food, then throw up everything she/he just ate. They may first eat a large amount of food, and even indulge in rich food in a short period of time, then later force themselves to vomit. They may also start exercising excessively, use laxatives, or fast to make up for the food they had, as they start to feel guilty about having eaten food. Bulimia is most common in adolescent and young adult women.
Unlike anorexia where the person stops eating, bulimic people do eat food, but they either force themselves to vomit or use laxatives.
Health problems related to Anorexia/Bulimia
• Poor circulation of blood
• Irregular menstrual cycle
• Brittle bones
• Fainting and dizziness
• Dehydration leading to kidney damage
• Slowed heartbeat
• Low blood pressure
• Reduced body temperature
• Hair loss
When a person starts binging, leading to a feeling of guilt and shame, she/he is said to be a compulsive eater. This is not like bulimia where the person involves purging. This leads to weight gain and depression. Here the person has an uncontrolled urge to eat all the time. 40 percent of people who are obese are binge eaters.
How would you know if you are a compulsive eater?
These are common signs of a compulsive eater:
• Eating uncontrollably
• Dieting frequently
• Preoccupied about their weight
• Vigorous exercise or vomiting to lose weight
• Health problems like heartburn, dental problems, fatigue, weight gain, insomnia and high BP.
Recovery from these disorders is possible. The person must undergo certain lifestyle changes with the help of the people around him/her. There are different kinds of psychological therapy available to treat these problems. For a person suffering from anorexia, hospitalization may be necessary in extreme cases; when due to severe weight loss different parts of the body get affected. Intravenous feeding may be required, and the focus would be on gaining weight. Family support and assistance is very important. The person is given nutritional education for a healthy alternative to weight management. A lot of counseling is given, and therapy to boost up one's self esteem. Everyone has the right to love his own body.
So with the help of medical, psychological and nutritional assistance, people with eating disorders can be healed.