Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. Even though the term ‘eating’ is in the name, eating disorders are more than just food alone. Eating disorders may start as an unhealthy obsession with one’s weight or the way their body looks, but if left untreated, it may result in severe health conditions, sometimes even resulting in death.
Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms, the most common of which are restricted or overindulging in food, obsessing over their weight or the way their body looks, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising.
Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, they’re most commonly seen in adolescents and young women. There are a lot of causes of eating disorders, like, genetics, endocrine imbalances leading to excessive food cravings and the societal and cultural pressure to look a certain way.
The society we are exposed to has a big part in an individual’s idea of beauty and the ‘ideal’ body type. When an individual is brought up believing that a certain body type is more desirable or beautiful, it can give rise to a warped sense of beauty. This can lead to body dysmorphia, a condition where a person believes that he/she will fit into society’s ideals of beauty or feel good about Themselves, only when they look a certain way and loose or gain a few inches.
There are two major types of eating disorders, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. People with anorexia generally view themselves as overweight, even if they’re dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely restrict their calories.
People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large amounts of food in a specific period of time.
Each binge eating episode usually continues until the person becomes painfully full.During a binge, the person usually feels that they cannot stop eating or control how much they are eating. Individuals with bulimia then attempt to purge to compensate for the calories consumed and relieve gut discomfort.
Common purging behaviors include forced vomiting, fasting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, and excessive exercise.
Awareness is the first step in detecting that something is wrong and getting the right kind of help. Eating disorders are more than just monitoring the amount of food that one eats, and with proper help and guidance, they are treatable. If you feel that you can relate to the symptoms of eating disorders, seek help immediately, and remember that there’s no shame in accepting that you have an eating disorder, it is more common than you think.
Design: Rahul Haloi
Written by: Debashree Chowdhury