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Everything You Need To Know About Eating Disorders and Why It Sucks

An eating disorder is a non-physical and mental illness where a person becomes obsessed with their body shape, weight, eating habits, or a particular food. Eating disorders indicate that such habits have affected an individual's health and mental state.

Trauma, anxiety disorder, or mood swings are the common disorders that go with eating disorders. If you have had trauma about a particular food and how it affected you in the past, chances are you will avoid it. But when it comes to the trauma associated with an eating disorder, the individual continues to eat food that makes them feel good, keeps them in shape, and is very dangerous to their health.

I watched a movie where a young girl of eighteen years enrolled in a beauty contest. She met all the requirements, including weight, height, and body stature. When she got to the room where the other participants were, she felt very intimidated.

There were more skinny-looking girls, and she felt like she had more weight than these other girls. They also mocked her and made slight comments about her weight. The next scene in the movie shows how this affects the girl. She was moody and refused to eat in the dining room when her mother served her. She did not talk to anyone, and when she did, she was always rude.

The coordinators of the pageant were to coach these girls in-house for three weeks. Those three weeks were bad for this eighteen-year-old girl. She avoided foods that contain fat and started watching videos online on how to slim down in weeks.

Sometimes when she eats, she goes to the bathroom and throws up; other times, she takes cotton wool soaked in the juice so that she does not feel hungry. I cannot remember how the movie ended, but I know she did not take part in the pageant because she fainted three times during rehearsals.

The movie showed how someone can develop an eating disorder habit from bullying.

What Are the Causes of Eating Disorders?

There are a lot of causes that give birth to eating disorders. In the movie example, I sighted at the beginning, bullying was one of the reasons why the eighteen-year-old girl developed an eating disorder.

The most common causes of eating disorders are genetic and biological factors. Here are some more explicit causes:

  • Low confidence

  • Pressure from society

  • Past trauma

  • Activities that involve weight loss

  • Stress

The causes of eating disorders also differ from person to person.

How To Detect an Eating Disorder

If you can discover signs of eating disorders early, it will be easy to start treatment and manage the mental and physical health implications.

Here are signs of eating disorders:

  • Avoiding eating with people

  • Skipping meals

  • Purging of food intake

  • Vomiting after food intake

  • Obsession about weight gain

  • Dieting

  • Eating in small portions

  • An extreme case of mood swing

  • Fear of eating or drinking

  • Fainting

These are some of the signs that can lead to eating disorders. You will have to be experiencing three or more of these signs to be diagnosed with an eating disorder by a mental health professional.

Types Of Eating Disorders

The eating disorder varies from person to person. Various types of eating disorders share different signs. Since eating disorders stem from cases like starvation for weight loss, embarrassment from eating too much or picking at food, here are different types of eating disorders:

  • Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia involves an excessive intake of food at a time and, afterwards, vomiting the food. The essence of bulimia is to have the ability to eat anything you want at once, throwing them all up so that you do not get fat from what you are consuming. The throwing-up exercise could be a result of guilt or shame for consuming a lot of food all at once. Women have the most cases of bulimia because they tend to be more obsessed with their shape.

  • Anorexia: anorexia patients avoid certain foods because of calorie intake. In most cases, people living with anorexia feel and think they are fat, even if they are underweight. They prefer to go on an excessive diet to burn more fat from their bodies. Sometimes, add excessive exercise. Individuals diagnosed with anorexia develop weakness of the muscles, become stressed, and look malnourished.

  • Pica: people living with Pica consume lots of food with no nutritional advantage. They attract substances like cotton wool, soil, paper, etc.

  • Avoidance Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: This type of disorder is common among children. Who avoid some food based on its smell, look, taste, or even colour. Children who are picky eaters are most times diagnosed with ARFID.

A Treatment Plan for Eating Disorders

Mental health practitioners make suitable treatment plans for different individuals based on the type of eating disorder they are diagnosed with. This means that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan.

But here are some options for treatment plans that can be offered to help manage eating disorders:

  • Medication: Most often, strict medications are advised for people living with years of eating disorders. These medications could be supplements that boost the immune system or supplements that make patients with an eating disorder eat.

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy: this form of therapy could be individual or group. CBT will help people living with eating disorders drop negative thought processes and manage how they view their bodies in their minds.

  • Talk therapy: this will help in managing the depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma that come with eating disorders. During talk therapy, nutritional counseling can also be inculcated to instil great knowledge about the nutritional value of food.

While people living with eating disorders should seek professional help, they can also complement it by doing exercise that is good for their body weight, engaging in healthy dieting (with fruits and vegetables), and avoiding using unprescribed supplements for weight loss or food substitutes.

If your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder, reinforce a good image of the body, be very supportive, and follow them for counseling. Also, avoid dieting in front of your child as an adult.

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