Understanding Eating Disorders

Many individuals misunderstand the stigma around eating disorders. They are unaware of whether they are affected by an eating disorder. At some point, most of us have either heard the phrases: “you overeat!”, “Just don’t eat”, “control yourself”, and other hurtful words. These reactions are universal and predominantly aimed at women due to unrealistic beauty standards imposed by most cultures and societies. The media also plays a substantial negative role in contributing to this stigma. In this article, we will help you understand eating disorders and lightly review the different ways they can surface.

Victims of eating disorders often go through feelings of sadness, grief, unworthiness, and guilt. Whether it’s too high or too low, it’s as if the number on a weighing scale defines who they are as a person. As a result, victims may have a lowered sense of self-worth.

Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can present themselves in different shapes and forms. Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. These disorders are most common in teenagers or young adults.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by a very low body weight usually below 17.5 BMI. The individual also has an intense fear of gaining weight and has a much-distorted perception when it comes to weight. They place high importance on the control or loss of weight. Hence, taking measures like calorie restriction, extreme exercise, and more to ensure that their weight is controlled to an extreme.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is another eating disorder and is present in many teenage girls. It is one most common eating disorders portrayed in the media. Victims of this disorder experience episodes of binge eating. As a result, the victim may feel guilt, prompting them to take extreme measures to eject food from their body, such as deliberate vomiting. This disorder also includes excessive dieting and exercise.

Binge-eating Disorder

Binge-Eating Disorder occurs in those that eat large amounts of foods in a single sitting. It is to the point that you eat beyond feeling full. This type of eating disorder can lead to sadness, and even depression but it does not lead to rumination, vomiting, or extreme measures. It’s similar to compulsions and obsessions. It is when one is obsessed with food. While feeling the compulsion to eat that much in one sitting. This disorder usually occurs in people of all sizes, from very thin to morbidly obese and triggers are unknown so far.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating occurs when one is overwhelmed by emotions. The disorder could result from financial stress, stress about work, weight, children, relationships, or even the death of a close loved one. Victims may find comfort in overeating to fill an emotional void in their lives, consequently creating a vicious cycle of guilt and overeating. Victims of this disorder may find themselves gaining unhealthy weight levels and damaged self-esteem.

Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are hereditary, so parents pass them down to their offspring. There are genetic dispositions that could lead to such disorders. However, the more common cause is the unrealistic societal pressures on teens and young adults. It is the pressure to fit into beauty standards and the association of success with having a perfectly toned figure.

Social media exposes young girls to filtered and edited images of what a beautiful woman should appear as. Young girls are now setting their beauty standards according to such models and actresses. While also using them to develop their measures of success, creating the false impression that they would need to starve themselves. Or eject food from their bodies if they’ve overeaten.

Move towards Betterment

People who suffer from an eating disorder are fighting a silent battle against their physical health and their mental well-being. The feelings of not feeling good enough and failure tend to push them towards depression. They can even, in extreme cases, lead to committing suicide. Hence, the earlier an individual gets treatment, the better it is.

Hence, when seeking treatment for such disorders, it is crucial that the victim seek help from a nutritionist and consult a therapist. However, since the underlying cause for the condition is related to mental health, such as depression or past traumas, victims may need a prescription from their psychiatrist as well.