When we hear the term Eating Disorder, it is often assumed that they are lifestyle choices which in fact is a great misconception. Apparently, eating disorders are mental, emotional and physical issues which can be fatal and permanently damaging to the person. Can you believe that some of the world’s most beautiful, famous celebrities including Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Demi Lovato etc. have confessed to being victims of Eating Disorders?

A person with an eating disorder tends to make their weight and physical attributes a focal point, which results in the decision of taking unhealthy eating choices. Eating disorders are categorized into three-Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge eating disorder or even a combination of the above.

Eating disorders explained

People with Anorexia nervosa or anorexia are obsessed about their weight and what they eat. This serious eating disorder is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and having a distorted body image in mind. Regardless of how skinny they become, it isn’t enough for them.

Bulimia is a potentially life-threatening disorder in which people have a tendency to eat large amounts of food and forcefully throw up or engage in excessive exercise or misuse laxatives to get rid of those calories.

Binge-eating disorder(BED) is the most common eating disorder. Unlike bulimia, you don’t force yourself to purge or fast after binging. Instead, there is a compulsion to consume large quantities of food on a regular basis, even when they are not hungry. They tend to feel ashamed about their weight and thus tend to resort to binge-eating. It is normal for almost everyone to overeat once in a while, but when this habit turns into a regular pattern, it is then termed as binge-eating.

Statistics reveal that ninety percent of cases involve women with its start around the age of sixteen. Peer pressure and the media’s obsession with super thin models are the main culprits!

What are the causes of eating disorders?

We are familiar that eating disorders are a combination of genetic, psychological and environmental factors. Social issues such as the manner of portrayal of women to be thin is highlighted everywhere, makes the person feel conscious about their body. The risk factors which trigger the onset of an eating disorder are listed below:

  • Depression
  • Being criticized over their weight and body type
  • Chronic stress
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Family disputes and abuse
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Denial

How can you spot a person with an eating disorder?

In some people, an eating disorder could be pretty obvious, but for some suffering the signs may be subtle. A person with an eating disorder could display of all these symptoms or a few.

  • Constant dieting even though they have a normal weight or are underweight
  • Skipping meals
  • Avoiding lunch or dinner times claiming they have eaten
  • Lethargy
  • Isolating themselves from family and friends
  • Dehydration( in cases of bulimia where the person compensates overeating by vomiting/fasting)
  • Constantly weighing themselves
  • Crankiness
  • Binge eating

Eating disorders are pretty complex and involves a lot of factors. If not treated, it can have a negative impact on the person’s life at all levels-personal and social.

What can you do to help someone with an eating disorder?

  1. The first and foremost thing that you can do is directly talk to the person about the change you have observed. The person at this stage will be in a state of utter emotional turmoil as well as a confused state of mind and therefore your manner of approach matters the most. Most people who suffer from eating disorders might be in denial of their issue. Rather than criticizing them, let them know that they are loved and cared for. Let them know that you truly do understand their fears and will there to support them. Don’t rush them through the talk you are having. Rather, listen carefully. It is very important to keep in mind that eating disorders stem from low self esteem issues and lack of confidence. Therefore, being cynical of the person might affect him/her adversely. Instead, make them aware of the dreadful consequences of eating disorders like anorexia and inform them what it can do to their body in the long term.
  2. Treatment usually involves a combination of various methods including professional help, behavior therapy and counseling. With successful treatment, a complete reversal from the disorder is a definite.
  3. A popular method of treatment done is the Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). It is a form of psychotherapy which helps and uplifts the person from the problem to changing his/her thinking pattern and delusional beliefs. Dietary counseling is also advised by the therapist to understand the importance of a well-balanced and healthy diet.
  4. As scary as it may seem at that moment for the individual, getting help as early as possible is the best way out of these dreadful eating disorders. If you know anyone with an eating disorder,your timely intervention might just save their life.

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