The eating disorder or anorexia nervosa is rampant among teenage girls and young women today. In their desire or quest to maintain the ideal body weight and shape, many women adopt unhealthy eating habits which can result in a variety of eating problems. These eating problems, which include anorexia nervosa, can lead to severe health conditions.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
One of the most common eating disorders of the present age is anorexia nervosa. People who suffer from this condition are unable to maintain a proper weight that is in proportion to their height and age. People suffer from this eating disorder because of their extreme fear of putting on weight. Initially the condition of anorexia nervosa may start off as simple dieting.
Once the person becomes extremely absorbed or obsessed with their body shape they may adopt extreme dieting measures which can ultimately affect his/her mind and body. People start suffering from this eating problem during their teenage years. The reason for this is because of the extreme pressure from peers to look ‘thin’ and ‘beautiful’. Ultimately the fixation to become thin can lead to mental illness.
Who is At Risk of Suffering Anorexia Nervosa?
Women and in some cases even men who are in the age group of 13-30 mostly suffer from this eating disorder. In the US where the pressure to look good is often extreme, even children as young as 10 and 11 can develop anorexia nervosa. It has also been noted that people of Caucasian descent are more likely to fall victim of this problem. People who follow certain professions like dancers, models, actors and athletes have a higher risk of suffering from anorexia nervosa.
Signs of Anorexia
There are numerous signs that a person with anorexia nervosa exhibits, which clearly indicates that the individual is suffering from a body image problem. Most people who suffer from anorexia nervosa are in a state of denial and refuse to believe that they may actually be suffering from a potentially life threatening eating problem. Recognizing the signs of anorexia nervosa can help or coax a person who is suffering from this problem to seek medical advice to help overcome this problem. Some of the common signs of anorexia nervosa have been discussed below.
Dramatic and Severe Weight Loss
One of the first signs of anorexia nervosa is a person losing weight suddenly. Unlike people who follow sensible diet plans where the weight loss is gradual, people with this eating condition lose weight dramatically. The weight loss in most cases is not keeping with the person age or weight. Hence, the person may end up looking emaciated or has a wasted appearance. This haggard appearance is due to the severe weight loss caused by the body being subjected to extreme starvation. Extreme starvation can take a toll on the person’s health and instead of looking thin in a healthy way; the person ends up looking as if he is suffering from some major disease.
Obsessions Regarding Food, Body Weight, Appearance
People with anorexia nervosa become obsessed about every calorie that goes into their system. They also become paranoid about their body weight and appearance. Every minute of every hour is crowded with one and one thought alone- To become thin. In fact not only their thoughts, even their conversations with others are about their desire to attain the perfect body shape.
Refusing to Eat In Public
People who have this condition refuse to eat in public. They may make excuses for not eating with their friends or companions. One of the reasons why people with anorexia do not eat food with others is because they are afraid that questions may be asked about their strange eating habits. Hence most anorexics like to eat in private.
Preoccupation with Food
Anorexics have a strange relationship with food. They have an extreme fixation or preoccupation with food. While anorexics themselves do not like to eat food, they enjoy collecting recipes and preparing food for others. This excessive preoccupation with food is one of the warning signs of anorexia nervosa.
Eating Specific Types of Food
The eating habits of anorexics are indeed strange. People with this eating disorder only eating specific types of food that are extremely low in fat and calories. Another strange eating habit exhibited by people with anorexia nervosa is that they may eat only one type of food for a long time. This habit of eating only one type of, normally low calorie, food is because of their extreme fear of putting on weight.
Lying about Their Weight and Food Consumption
Most people with anorexia lie about their body weight to hide their eating problem. When people question them about their weight they may attribute their thinness to genetics or some health problem.
While a certain section of people with anorexia nervosa, eat only in private another group makes it a point of making pretence of eating in front on others. This is basically to avoid being asked searching questions regarding their eating habits by others.
Complaining About being Overweight
Anorexics often complain about being overweight even though they may be stick thin. It is this distorted body image which spurs anorexics to cut back on their already limited intake of food even more.
Wearing Baggy Clothes
If your friend insists on wearing baggy and ill fitting clothes despite being extremely thin it could be an indication that they may be suffering from an eating disorder. Most people with anorexia tend to wear oversized and baggy clothes to avoid people asking questions about their excessively thin appearance.
Despite their emaciated state, most anorexics exercise with a vengeance. This could again be attributed to their distorted body image. They also fear that not exercising will make them put on excessive weight that can make them look undesirable.
Individuals who suffer from this eating disorder often complain of feeling dizzy, excessive tiredness or their inability to concentrate on any task. These problems arise because the body is not getting enough nutrients to function properly. People with anorexia also suffer from serious health problems like kidney ailments, liver disease, heart problems and may also suffer from an early onset of osteoporosis.
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