Eating disorders

“…compulsive eating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day.”

 — Geneen Roth, Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

According to the American Psychological Association, eating disorders are behavioral problems marked by severe and persistent disturbances in eating patterns, as well as upsetting thoughts and emotions. 70 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from an eating disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Women between the ages of 15 and 35 are particularly susceptible to eating disorders.

Typically, eating disorders emerge throughout adolescence or early adulthood. Anorexia and Bulimia are rare disorders that develop before puberty or after the age of 40. 90% of instances are diagnosed before the age of twenty, while less than 10% of all cases occur before the age of ten. Clearly, adolescent stressful events, such as self-consciousness, puberty, and peer pressure, can contribute significantly to the onset of these diseases. An eating disorder frequently begins as a result of a stressful life experience. This could include exposure to violence, family conflict, school-related stress, or loss. It does not appear to be related to someone’s race or socioeconomic background. Rather, these conditions affect people of all ages and socioeconomic statuses.

Preoccupations with food, weight, or shape, as well as worry about eating or the consequences of consuming specific foods, are common symptoms of eating disorders. Restrictive eating or avoiding particular meals, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative usage, or compulsive exercise are some of the behaviors associated with eating disorders. Addiction-like behavior can be a result of these habits. They frequently co-occur with other psychiatric disorders, most frequently mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and other drugs.

It’s important to know that there are many different types of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder. Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are only some of the most common.

When anorexia nervosa–also known as anorexia–is diagnosed, the patient has an unusually low body weight, a strong fear of gaining weight, and an excessively distorted perception of weight. Individuals suffering from anorexia place a great premium on maintaining a healthy weight and shape, often by severe measures that significantly disrupt their lives. People with anorexia often drastically restrict their food intake in order to avoid weight gain or to maintain their weight loss. Vomiting after eating or using laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas as laxatives are two common methods of restricting caloric intake. Excessive exercise may also be used as a weight-loss strategy. However much weight is dropped, the worry of gaining it all back persists in the person’s subconscious mind. In the end, anorexia isn’t truly a food-related disorder. It’s a dangerous and potentially lethal technique to deal with emotional issues. It’s common for people with anorexia to see thinness as a sign of self-worth.

Bulimia Nervosa; People with bulimia may surreptitiously eat enormous amounts of food and then purge, seeking to get rid of the excess calories in an unhealthy manner. People with bulimia utilize a variety of strategies to burn calories and avoid weight gain. It’s possible that after a binge, you’ll self-induce vomiting or take laxatives or weight-loss pills, or diuretics. Fasting, severe diets, or intense activity can also be used to burn calories and prevent weight gain.

Binge eating disorder– characterized by recurring bouts of overeating. Binge eating is characterized by feelings of inadequacy during the binge, humiliation, sadness, or guilt afterward, and the absence of unhealthy compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging). It’s the most frequent eating disorder in the United States, according to the CDC. It is one of the most recently identified eating disorders in the DSM-5.

Avoidant restricted food intake disorder – is characterized by an abnormal pattern of eating that results in a prolonged inability to achieve nutritional requirements and severe selective eating. ARFID is characterized by food avoidance or a restricted diet. Infancy or early childhood is a common time for food avoidance or restriction to begin, and it may continue until adulthood. However, it can begin at any age. ARFID can have a negative influence on families regardless of the age of the person afflicted, resulting in greater stress during mealtimes and other social eating situations.

Causes of Eating disorders

Eating disorders are extremely complicated illnesses, and scientists are constantly discovering their origins. Although eating disorders are always associated with food and weight difficulties, the majority of specialists now believe that eating disorders are triggered by individuals attempting to cope with overwhelming feelings and painful emotions through food management. Regrettably, this eventually has a detrimental effect on a person’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and sense of control. Some people are more likely to develop an eating disorder because they have a genetic predisposition, but these diseases can also affect people who have no family history of the problem.

An idealized body type in the culture places unnecessary pressure on individuals to meet unattainable norms. Thinness (for women) or muscularity (for men) is frequently associated with popularity, success, attractiveness, and happiness in popular culture and media imagery. When it comes to young people, peer pressure may be a tremendous motivator. Pressure can manifest as teasing, bullying, or scorn based on one’s size or weight. A history of physical or sexual abuse may also contribute to the development of an eating disorder in some individuals. Emotional Well-Being—Perfectionism, impulsive conduct, and problematic relationships can all contribute to a person’s low self-esteem and predispose them to develop eating disorders.

Various treatments are used to treat eating disorders. Individualized treatment regimens for eating problems are available. You will almost certainly be assisted by a team of providers, including doctors, dietitians, nurses, and therapists. Psychotherapy, medication, nutritional counseling, and weight loss monitoring may all be used as therapies.

References

WHO- The Gender and Health Reserach Series, pdf

Mayo clinic- Eating disorders

Eating Disorders | NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness. (n.d.). Eating Disorders | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders.

Gulf Bend MHMR Center. (n.d.). Gulf Bend MHMR Center. https://www.gulfbend.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=11746&cn=46.

What Are Eating Disorders?. (n.d.). What Are Eating Disorders?. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/eating-disorders/what-are-eating-disorders.

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