We live in a society that sets norms for us based on appearance as well. There is a specified way a person should look in order to seem normal, or worse, to be accepted. This can however be argued if these boundaries are set by the society or limitations which we have created for our own selves and have become conscious of how we look. These thoughts may also be influenced by magazines and television advertising and portraying a generalized sense of beauty. How they sell the concept of being beautiful, whilst selling their products to lose wrinkles and stretch marks or weight.
It is indeed essential to eat a healthy diet and in moderate quantity. It is also highly important to exercise daily. Watching out on what you eat and how much you do should not be considered as a disorder rather it is a way towards a healthier life. Obesity is not something which should be promoted. It is a disease in itself. Eating disorders however are potentially a threat to your life. They bring with them psychological and physical ailments, alongside extreme and unhealthy perceptions and beliefs on diet, weight and how your body shape should be. Generally, people with eating disorders tend to have little to no acceptance for them-selves. They think of themselves as being too fat or too ugly. This judgement of them-selves which they conclude on their looks is untrue but for people with eating disorders their controlling of their diet is their rationale towards thinness.
This article is intended to provide you with the possible reasons, why these eating disorders occur in the first place and the steps or strategies which may be adopted to over-come these disorders. There are two main types of eating disorders which this article will stress upon.
Anorexia or anorexia nervosa is a mental illness which brings physical problems too. The victim is extremely under-weight and still unsatisfied with his/her thinness. They limit their intake of food dramatically and often exercise a lot to get rid of whatever they have eaten. Some people who suffer from anorexia are found binge eating and then forcefully vomiting for it to exit the body. These people see themselves quite differently as to how to how others see them. They tend to see them bigger than they actually are and nest a grave fear of gaining weight although gaining weight is what they really need.
There are two kinds of anorexia:
- Binge type: The person with this type of anorexia will purge after eating anything. This lowers the fear of gaining more weight. They can get rid of the food either by vomiting, exercising or over using laxatives. Getting rid of the food also takes away with it, the guilt of eating ‘forbidden’ foods.
- Restrictive type: The person suffering from this type of anorexia is often alleged as highly self-controlling. They restrict their diet, their quantity of food, number of calories and high fats and sugar diets. They take in the most minimal amounts of food and completely starve them-selves.
Anorexia is said to be triggered by environmental factors as well as genetic. Examples of environmental factors that influence this eating disorder include; the constant reinforcement of being thin through media, careers that involve weight loss, like modelling, severe traumas like childhood sexual harassment or peer pressures. Biological factors may include hormonal malfunction or genetics, although research on how genes may be linked to anorexia is still on going. Symptoms that prove the presence of anorexia nervosa include then chronic restriction of diet, obsession of calories, depression and fatigue, delay of menstrual cycle, cutting food in small pieces or hiding it, loss of hair, development of lanugo and feeling cold frequently. Avoidance of family or social gatherings may become common.
While one goes on a diet to control weight anorexia gives the person a sense of self mastery and a feeling that they can control their emotions and restrict them-selves from anything they want, in this case, food. Anorexia is treated in different ways. It may be through medication, psychotherapy, family therapy and nutrition counselling. It is difficult for patients to accept that they are anorexic and their cooperation may fluctuate in the process of treatment since their will to restrict food intake is extremely high. The goal to treating anorexia is to achieve a stable mental and emotional health and help the sufferer to love and accept themselves. Counselling involves CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) in which they intend to change the way the person thinks. There is no specific medication for anorexia but supplements for energy and restoration of vital components of nutrition is provided. If herbal treatment is the objective than a person with anorexia may be banana shakes regularly. Protein intake is highly essential for the re-development of muscles and tissues which have grown weak due to extreme low intake of meat and other protein rich diet. Fruits, vegetables and dairy products also help. A carbohydrate rich diet to provide energy and over-come the fatigue will also be helpful.
Like binge anorexia, bulimic patients tend to eat very large amounts of food in one go and then use laxatives or vomiting to avoid gaining weight. But unlike anorexia bulimic patients feel as if they have no sense of control on them-selves.
Bulimia too is initiated by the same factors that cause anorexia. They may be genetic, psychological or social disturbances. It is found more in women than in men, most commonly in teenage girls. The act of vomiting takes away the guilt of the person as well as the food that was eaten in a huge quantity. A person with bulimia will have constant dehydration and fluctuation in weight, inflammation in the esophagus, infertility, gastric reflux or acidity, electrolyte imbalances and broken blood vessels within the eyes. They might eat in secrecy and have no self-control when they eat. There may always be a bleak look on the face and a smell of vomit.
To over-come this eating disorder the purging or binging cycle must be broken and normal eating habits must be adopted. A person with bulimia goes through the same treatments as anorexic patients. Their counselling makes sure that their emotional problems are resolved and they develop the sense of self love and acceptance of the body shape so that it becomes highly unlikely to relapse. Therapies include; dialectic behavior therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and other therapies which may be related. A balanced diet plan should be provided to the bulimic person and counselling should make sure that it is acted upon. Since bulimia causes electrolyte imbalances, supplements should be provided to over-come these. Water should be drunk in good quantity to eradicate the dehydration. Water-rich fruits can be consumed for this purpose as well.
Eating disorders are life threatening, many people actually die because of mal nutrition and being extremely under weight. We should foster an impression of self acceptance and to develop love and feel comfortable inside our own selves, our own body and skin. Thus, having these problems is an issue, but a bigger deal is to cope with them, to deal with them, and to procure self love for ourselves.