Do You Control Your Food or Your Food Controls You?
Food has always been dear to us. Food always brings a smile to our face, be it a margherita pizza at night after an exhausting day, street-side pani-puri with friends or food made by our mother. Our food preference and liking tell a lot about our background and culture. However, everyone has a different taste and preferences; some prefer Italian to Mexican, whereas some would not prefer eating outside of their own cuisine. These eating habits have positive as well as a negative impact on people. These varied and problematic eating habits referred to as disorders, disturb the person physically and emotionally.
Even though eating is in the name, eating disorders can be about more than food. They may be caused by eating and not eating as well. They are complex mental conditions that require psychological and medical involvement time and again to normalize their path. These eating disorders are prevalent in this generation, mostly in youth, which is the obsession with a slim and perfect figure. Gradually, there is a change in eating habits and can also cause severe health problems.
Some common types of eating disorders are:
1.Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is the most well-known psychological condition which generally develops in young adults or adolescents. People reduce their food intake by the fear of getting fat; if not taken care of, it can be dangerous. People with this disorder starve or refuse to eat, reduce calorie consumption, work out obsessively, and often monitor their weight. Anorexia can be very harmful to the body as an individual over the years experiences thinning of bones, infertility, etc. This disorder can be seen in both men and women but primarily in women.
The symptoms of anorexia include:
- Considerably underweight
- Fear of weight gain
- Refusal of eating in public
- Exercising immensely
- Often lying about eating
- Limited eating patterns
2.Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is another well-known eating disorder. Like anorexia, it develops in early adulthood and can be mostly seen in women. Though people with Bulimia may frequently diet and exercise vigorously, they can be slightly underweight, overweight, or obese. People with bulimia binge eat frequently. In binge eating, they consume substantial quantities of food in a brief period and get rid of it by vomiting or purging out using a laxative. This cycle is repeated multiple times a week or, in severe cases, several times a day. Bulimia causes significant distress. They tend to eat alone and eat more than usual. This disorder harms the person more in a sensible manner. The symptoms of Bulimia may appear similar to those of anorexia; however, individuals with Bulimia maintain a relatively healthy weight rather than being underweight.
The symptoms of Bulimia include:
- Eating without control
- Mood swings and anxiety
- Frequent changes in body weight
Other known symptoms include exhaustion, indigestion, sore throat, tooth decay, dehydration, and hormonal imbalances.
3.Binge Eating Disorder: The individuals who suffer from this disorder uncontrollably and repeatedly consume food in large amounts in one go, but unlike other disorders, they do not purge or restrict calories. Any kind of confinement in eating results in another episode of binge eating, even if it is not hungry. Binge eating disorder goes strictly together with significant psychological problems like depression and anxiety. Stressful life events in likes of abuse, death, accidents are risk factors that may provoke an individual to eat more.
Common Symptoms of Binge eating disorder include:
- Eating despite not being hungry
- Feeling anxious or stressed.
- Eating secretly until uncomfortably full
- Stacking up food
4.Pica: This disorder involves eating things other than food. People suffering from Pica crave non-food-substances like dirt, stones, chalk, ice, paper, etc. This disorder is mainly observed in children, pregnant women, and individuals with mental disabilities. It must not be accepted as a practice by peers. Certain vitamin deficiencies also lead to Pica, e.g. researchers have long theorized that eating chalk is connected to having low zinc and low iron.
What causes Eating Disorders?
1.Biological reasons: – Biological factors include genetics, hormonal imbalance, and nutritional deficiencies. It is known that if a parent suffers from an eating disorder, it is more likely to pass to their children.
2.Psychological reasons: – Psychological factors play an essential role in the development of eating disorders. Individuals with pre-existing mental health issues, are vulnerable and are more likely to develop an eating disorder. Low self-esteem, anger, loneliness can also lead to developing an eating disorder. Personality traits are also another cause. The traits that are often linked to the higher risks of eating disorders are perfectionism, neuroticism, and impulsivity.
3. Social reasons: – The society we live in, glorifies being thin, which is the prime reason many teenagers develop eating disorders. Other causes include the cultural preferences to be thin and exposure to media encouraging such ideals. They begin to measure self-worth with being thin and perfect.
Supporting people with disorders
The same therapies can treat all the disorders mentioned above. The treatment includes various therapies and of those CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Group Psychotherapy are found to be very useful. All these disorders are life-threatening. So, all of us must potentially spread awareness among the people and love ourselves no matter what. Watching someone you love go through it and worsening their health is challenging. Hence, it is crucial to provide support to our friends and family members going through it. Communicating openly and asking about how we can help those suffering might help them talk about their feelings and problems. Do not let the stereotypes and stigma stop them from talking freely. We can avoid commenting on their physical appearance, as they already have low self-esteem. Suggesting they seek professional help, can allow them to learn to cope with their feelings in a safe environment. Remind them to have enough calorie intake and always remember that a healthy body looks and functions better than a perfect or zero figure.