Food and nutrition plays a very important role in self preservation -one of the basic instincts of humans and you can’t do without it. At the same time what is your attitude towards eating becomes a crucial aspect of your personality trait. Food gives security, comfort and health but when eating becomes the only source of security and comfort it can have adverse effect on physical and mental health.
It is observed that looking for food as comforter and issues of looking physically good and appealing are two extremes and yet connected and relatable issues which many struggle to juggle with and somehow do manage but few find it very hard and end up with dysfunctional eating habits known as eating disorders.
Eating Disorders, ED – It describes illnesses that are characterized by irregular eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. Eating disturbances may include inadequate or excessive food intake which can ultimately damage an individual’s well-being.
What affects ED
Researchers have observed certain facts regarding people, who suffer from Eating Disorder like,
Emergence of ED following a significant stressor, especially for those with perfectionist tendencies and expectations.
Eating disorders can be fuelled by criticism regarding appearance; low esteem can lead to dangerous dieting behaviour.
Overeating, or bingeing, can provide comfort when a person feels alone or helpless. The ensuing guilt and shame then often causes the person to try to get rid of the extra calories through vomiting, using laxatives or water pills, or excessive exercise.
The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder and affect both females and males.
People with anorexia nervosa may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. People with anorexia nervosa typically weigh themselves repeatedly, severely restrict the amount of food they eat, and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. While many young women and men with this disorder die from complications associated with starvation, others die of suicide. In women, suicide is much more common in those with anorexia than with most other mental disorders.
People with bulimia nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by compensating in the form of forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviours. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa usually maintain what is considered a healthy or relatively normal weight. Princess Diana had openly talked about her secret battle with bulimia and amount of pressure she felt to keep up to her royal image.
People with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating and do not have periods of binge-eating followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder often are overweight.
Treatment of ED is not very simple and if left untreated can cause multiple medical problems and even acutely life-threatening conditions needing hospitalization and forced nourishment.
A team comprising of a physician, nutritionist and psychotherapist is needed to take care of Eating Disorders and help the person to restore healthy eating habits and positive self image.