Eating Disorders

Anorexia. Bulimia. Bing-Eating.

Eating Disorders
All of us do not spend much time thinking about what we eat but people with eating disorders are completely obsessed with their eating habits, while constantly thinking about it all the time. Most of us, at some point of time; slip into overeating and comfort eating habits; but for some it can be life threatening. The fear of being overweight is installed in all of us because of social pressures on appearance mostly due to the media pressure.

Eating disorder is an illness that causes serious life threatening disturbances in a person’s everyday diet, like eating too little or eating too much. Severe concerns about body weight or shape characterizes eating disorders. Eating disorders mostly being in the teens or early adulthood when the person is developing a self-image and forming his/her self-identity. Eating disorders include attitudes, extreme emotions and the behavior which surrounds food and weight issues.

Anorexia is an eating disorder which is characterized by starving oneself and by excessive weight loss. It simply means that a person starves himself because he is convinced that he is overweight.The simple way to understand this is if a person is at least 15% under his normal body weight and is losing more weight due to not eating, then the disorder can be noted. Anorexia occurs when there is a refusal to maintain body weight that is normal for a person’s age, height, body type and activity level. The person has an intense fear of gaining weight and feels fat despite drastic weight loss.
Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by frequent and recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food and the person feels a lack of control over it. This is called binge eating and these episodes are followed by a compensative behavior such as forced vomiting, excessive fasting, increased exercise or use of laxatives. People with bulimia have a normal weight with some underweight and like people with anorexia they fear gaining weight, want to lose weight and are unhappy with their body. This behavior is done when alone as most people have accompanying feelings of shame and disgust.

Eating disorders can be treated by proper nutrition, healthy eating patterns, regular exercise and stopping purging behaviors. These are the basic foundations of treatment. Along with these, other special forms of psychotherapy are important, such as, talk therapy, medications and psychological counseling to help the person deal with the disorder. Treatment plans are usually devised according to the person’s disorder and accordingly individual or group therapy, medical care, nutritional counseling and medications are tailored.
Binge eating is another more commonly observed disorderwhich is known by its characteristics of uncontrolled, impulsive and continuous eating which goes beyond the limit of feeling comfortably full. The person seems to lose control over eating. People with binge eating disorder are mostly overweight or obese. They are at a higher risk of developing cardio-vascular diseases and also of having a high blood pressure. Binge eaters are more prone to psychological disorders such as anxiety, loneliness and depression and they also experience shame and guilt.

It is important to keep a check on our eating habits, especially given our stressful lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and lack of activity caused by a monotonous work schedule. A person with an eating disorder shouldn’t be blamed for it but instead should be motivate to reach out for help. Community help and family support is important to help the person deal with this problem as it is a constant struggle.

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