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When Eating Becomes A Disorder

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Eating is an activity we all do to survive and when done right, can lead to a healthy and fit lifestyle. However, there are some people who are suffering from eating disorders. Contrary to common belief that it’s just a lifestyle option, it is a physical and mental illness characterized by obsession with weight and food. There are serious cases where the patient cannot focus on other things than their food, the amount they eat, their weight, and their appearance.

Besides eating disorder, these people also suffer from diseases that are associated with the illness. Co – morbidities may often include other illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression, and even alcohol and drug abuse.

How does it all start?

How it all started can be very complex and hard to trace. Although the root cause is usually unknown, there are certain factors that could have contributed in the development of eating disorder. This usually includes impulsive behaviour or self – esteem issues, as well as traumatic events, peer pressure, how media defines beauty, and sometimes, abuse.

Eating disorders can begin slowly, usually with overindulgence in food or crash diets to achieve their weight. If this continues, the person’s way of eating can spiral beyond control. The desire to eat more or drive to reduce food intake is getting out of proportion, promoting unhealthy relationship between the food and the body.

Who is most affected?

Eating disorders can start during teenage years. But studies show that it can develop even in young adults, or at any age of a person. This only means that everybody, both women and men is at risk for developing eating disorders. However, most patients are young girls or women, causing some eating disorders in men to remain undiagnosed.

Different types of eating disorders

There are different types of eating disorders, to describe abnormalities in a person’s appetite, or lack of it.

Anorexia nervosa is used to describe people who are overly fixated on food, eating, and controlling their weight. They have this irrational fear of weight gain and even though they are already skin and bones, people with this eating disorder usually see themselves as obese or overweight. Besides being obsessed with weighing themselves, they also eat in very small quantities, should they decide to take a bit.

Although it is the least common among different types of eating disorder, it poses the greatest risk such as anemia, brittle nails and hair, infertility, frequent feeling of lethargy or exhaustion, and muscle weakness, to name a few.

Bulimia nervosa on the other hand, is an eating disorder where the patient eats huge amounts of food in just one seating, and usually in secret. This is more known as binge eating and people with bulimia nervosa have little control on their eating habits. To make up for what they ate, they will either do intense exercise or induce vomit, any way they can.

Unlike those suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa makes a person appear healthy. However, these people usually fear gaining weight and are very unsatisfied with their looks. Its side effects include chronically inflamed or sore throat, dehydration, intestinal irritation, salivary glands that are swollen, and decaying tooth enamel.

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