Overview Of Eating Disorders
The majority of us love eating, and we all need to eat. Along with keeping our bodies alive, sharing meals with the people we love is often a vital part of our social interactions. In fact, it's difficult to imagine a world without the many social activities we've developed around food sharing.
Bad food and body image connections, however, may cause major social, emotional, and physiological issues for those with eating disorders. If eating disorders are not addressed, they may have fatal consequences such as organ failure.
What Are Eating Disorders & How Do They Affect You?
There are many different types of eating disorders, and some people may show symptoms from many of them. The following eating disorders are the most prevalent ones:
- Patients with anorexia nervosa purposefully starve themselves or severely limit their food intake.
- A person with bulimia nervosa binges on food and then purges it, often by vomiting, laxative use, or excessive exercise.
- When someone binges, they consume enormous amounts of food without purging.
What Causes Eating Disorders?
There are several potential causes for eating disorders, and none of them are purely driven by vanity. In reality, those who struggle with eating disorders usually have poor self-esteem. Some people with eating disorders experience past trauma, a lack of control over their lives, feelings of inadequacy, worry, and unhappiness. Controlling what people eat is one way to take control of their life, even if the problems they are having have nothing to do with food or eating.
When someone has body dysmorphia, they get preoccupied on perceived flaws in their appearance, even if they are minor or invisible to others. It often occurs in those with eating problems.
An unhealthy connection with food or one's own body image may also result from external factors like societal pressure to be slim or "perfect."
Even when they are aware that the habit is harmful, some individuals may find it difficult to quit since obsessive thoughts and actions are a hallmark of eating disorders.
Those Who Are Prone to Eating Disorders
People of both genders have eating disorders at every stage of life. In fact, 9 percent of Americans will develop an eating issue at some point in their life. But teens and young women are more likely to have them; according to studies, up to 13% of young people will have at least one eating disorder by the time they are 20.
Eating Disorder Symptoms and Signs
Living with an eating disorder may be challenging, particularly given how central food is to our existence.
Particularly in a society where dieting is common, it may be difficult to tell the difference between an eating disorder and normal weight concerns or dieting. Since most people who binge, purge, or starve themselves conceal their behavior, it may be difficult to identify an eating problem in these individuals. If you believe a loved one may have an eating issue, look out for these warning signs:
Behavior Shifts Related to Food and Body Image
- They are depriving themselves of food or consuming less than their recommended daily amount of calories, for example.
- Exhibiting tyranny when it comes to eating and/or favoring dining alone.
- Excessive exercise, including using laxatives, diuretics, or enemas, or self-induced vomiting Purging using laxatives, diuretics, or enemas, as well as self-induced vomiting.
- Long, unnecessary toilet visits or the need to use the restroom right away after every meal, as well as eating a lot of food quickly and incessantly.
- Lacking spontaneity when it comes to eating and/or experiencing a lot of strain at meals.
Obsessive Thoughts About Food & Body Image
- Obsession with appearance.
- Regardless matter how slim they are, they think they are fat. Covering their very small physique with bulky, heavy clothing.
- Difficulties with their body image and constant criticism of their looks.
- Rigid guidelines and beliefs about what meals should and cannot be ingested as well as the proper ways to eat them.
- Having high standards for their ability to lose weight.
A Change In Mood
- Suffering from anxiety or sadness.
- They feel defensive or agitated when questioned about their eating habits.
- Being emotionally repressed or acting in a controlled way when it comes to letting people see their emotions.
- Guilt, helplessness, or a negative opinion of oneself.
Changes in Physical Appearance
fast or excessive weight loss
being always cold
Having dry and yellowing skin
A fine head of hair
A brittle set of nails
Purging often might result in chipmunk cheeks, a persistent sore throat, or mouth sores (when the glands on the sides of the jaw grow)
Girls who are underweight have the risk of skipping their period.
Communication Strategies For Those Who Have Eating Disorders
If someone you know is displaying early signs of an eating problem, it's imperative that you don't disregard your worries. Being upfront and truthful about what you see and having the courage to start a dialogue about it might save the life of a loved one. While communicating your worries is essential, there are a number of strategies that are both more and less effective. Think about the following recommendations.
Try Your Best To: Pick A Moment When You Can Chat In Privacy, Preferably In Person
- Describe your concerns in a kind, nonjudgmental way. Try to be composed, courteous, and enthusiastic when communicating.
- Make a list of instances that are particular. It's crucial to be straightforward and talk about what you've seen about their behavioral changes.
Try To Avoid: Commenting On The Individual's Attractiveness
Even a compliment may promote a focus on appearance and weight, which may seem counterintuitive.
- Suggestions for easy fixes or guarantees that changing their behavior would be simple: "Everything would be fine if you just quit!"
- Their eating habits are being criticized.
- Attempting to convince or coerce them into eating. People with eating disorders resort to food for consolation when they don't feel in control of their life.
- Making demands about what they eat will only make things worse.
If your friend or loved one refuses to discuss it or doesn't answer appropriately, don't give up on them. Keep checking in. Tell them you care about them and that you'll be there for them when they're prepared to speak and, maybe, seek assistance. For an eating problem, counseling is very necessary. For persons with eating disorders to change their connection with food and develop healthy coping skills, particularly those who have had them for a long time, they almost likely need the help of a mental health professional.
Seeking Treatment For Eating Disorders
If untreated, eating disorders may cause serious long-term health issues since they tend to become worse over time. Therefore, the sooner you speak out if you believe a loved one has an eating problem, the better the chances are for their recovery. If you suspect that you are experiencing issues with your relationship with food, it is never too early to get assistance.
If you or someone you know needs assistance with an eating disorder, go to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website or contact the NEDA helpline at 800-931-2237 via phone or text.