Eating Disorders are psychological conditions in which unhealthy eating patterns and habits develop. They are mental health conditions which cause obsession with food, body weight and body image. The eating habits many times become danger to life, if left untreated.
They occur mostly in adolescence and in young women. Onset is usually before age 20.
CAUSES- it is multi-factorial:
1. Genetics- if your sibling or parents have an eating disorder, you are more likely to have one too.
2. Personality traits- perfectionist and impulsive people have a higher risk of suffering from eating disorder.
3. Social pressures- to be thin, cultural preferences for thinness, and
4. Exposure to media promoting such ideal- picture perfect bodies.
6 types of Eating Disorder-
1. ANOREXIA NERVOSA
• Occurs more commonly in women.
• People with anorexia generally perceive themselves as overweight, even if they’re dangerously underweight.
• Their self-esteem, depends of weight and thinness.
• They have a distorted view of their body image. They deny being seriously underweight. Thus, they repeatedly keep monitoring their weight.
• To continue being thin, they avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely restrict their calories. They may also take supplements and diuretics to lower their already low weight. Some may also have difficulty eating in public
• They have intense fear of gaining weight or being fat. A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight.
• Obsessive-compulsive symptoms are also often present. For instance, many people with anorexia are often preoccupied with constant thoughts about food, and some may obsessively collect recipes or hoard food.
Anorexia is of 2 subtypes —
1. Restricting type- they lose weight solely through dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise.
2. Binge eating and Purging type- may binge on large amounts of food or eat very little. In both cases, after they eat, they purge using activities like vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, or exercising excessively.
Anorexia can be very damaging to the body. Over time, individuals living with it may experience the thinning of their bones, infertility, brittle hair and nails, and the growth of a layer of fine hair all over their body.
In severe cases, anorexia can result in heart, brain, or multi-organ failure and death.
2. BULIMIA NERVOSA
• More common in young adolescent women than men. They tend to eat large amounts of food in a very short time. They eat very rapidly. The person is unable to stop eating during this binge episode. The amount of food they end up eating is also not in their control.
• Binges can happen with any type of food but most commonly occur with foods the individual would normally avoid.
• After binging, the person tends to purge to compensate for the calories consumed and relieve gut discomfort.
• Recurrent purging behaviours show that they also have fear of being fat, fear of gaining weight, and their self-esteem depends on thinness.
• Repeated PURGING can cause an inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, acid reflux, irritation of the gut, severe dehydration, and hormonal disturbances
• In severe cases, bulimia can also create an imbalance in levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. This can cause a stroke or heart attack.
3. BINGE EATING DISORDER
• most common eating disorders
• It typically begins during adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later on.
• Eat large amounts of food in a very short period of time, very rapidly, unusually in secret, even when they are not hungry.
• They cannot control their binges.
• After the binge episode, they have feelings of distress, such as shame, disgust, or guilt, when thinking about the binge eating behaviour
• They do not restrict calorie intake or use purging behaviours, such as vomiting or excessive exercise, to compensate for their binges.
• People with binge eating disorder often have overweight or obese. This may increase their risk of medical complications linked to excess weight, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes
4. AVOIDANT/RESTRICTIVE FOOD INTAKE DISORDER (ARFID)
• ARFID generally develops during infancy or early childhood, it can persist into adulthood
• It occurs equally among men and women.
• Characterized by disturbed eating habits either due to a lack of interest in eating or distaste for certain smells, tastes, colors, textures, or temperatures, resulting in restriction of food intake and thus resulting in deficiency in calories and various nutrients.
• Because they restrict intake of different types of food, this interferes with normal social functions, such as eating with others, etc.
• weight loss or poor development for age and height
• nutrient deficiencies or dependence on supplements or tube feeding
• It’s important to note that ARFID goes beyond normal behaviors, such as picky eating in toddlers or lower food intake in older adults, or the avoidance or restriction of foods due to lack of availability or religious or cultural practices.
4. PURGING DISORDER
Individuals with purging disorder often use purging behaviors, only, such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or excessive exercising, to control their weight or shape. However, they do not binge.
5. NIGHT EATING SYNDROME-
Individuals with this syndrome frequently eat excessively, often after awakening from sleep.
6. OTHER SPECIFIED FEEDING OR EATING DISORDER (OSFED)-
• Individuals with orthorexia tend to have an obsessive focus on healthy eating, to an extent that disrupts their daily lives.
• They may eliminate entire food groups, fearing they’re unhealthy. This can lead to malnutrition, severe weight loss, difficulty eating outside the home, and emotional distress.
• Their self-worth, identity, or satisfaction is dependent upon how well they comply with their self-imposed diet rules, instead of low weight or thinness.
Eating disorders are mental health conditions that require treatment. If left untreated, they can be damaging to the body as well. Seek professional help from a psychiatrist for the same.
“Feeling guilty for eating when you're hungry is like feeling for breathing when your lungs need oxygen. We've literally been taught to be ashamed or our basic human needs. Refuse to feel the shame. You are allowed to eat.”