However, eating disorder conditions are not to be ignored. Eating disorders should be considered similar to any treatable medical condition, and adequate measures should be taken to help the person suffering from this problem to overcome it.
What are Eating Disorders?
When an individual indulges in abnormal eating patterns like eating excessively or reducing the food consumption drastically, they are said to be suffering from an eating disorder. Such people may also experience negative emotions like distress, depression and exhibit excessive concern regarding their weight and body shape.
It has been noted that eating disorders are most common among teenagers and young women. Individuals with a previous history of substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression are more likely to suffer from this condition.
Types of Eating Disorders
The main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Extremely low body weight, coupled with excessive, almost manic fear of gaining weight is the typical characteristic of a person suffering from anorexia nervosa. Anorexia in Greek actually means a lack of appetite. The problem of anorexia nervosa should not be left untreated; as people with severe forms of this condition have even died.
Bulimia Nervosa also known as bulimia is characterized by bingeing and purging. Persons who suffer from this condition eat vast amounts of food – bingeing- and follow it up with purging or throwing up or vomiting all the food that they have eaten. Proper counseling along with psychiatrist help and the guidance of a good dietician can in most cases help individuals to overcome this eating disorder problem.
When a person continues to eat despite reaching satiety is called binge eating. Binge eating is actually uncontrolled eating. There are many emotional factors which trigger off episodes of binge eating. People having this particular eating disorder do not throw up the food that they have eaten but may suddenly embark on extreme diet plans to be followed by another bout of excessive eating.
Eating Disorder Causes
There are many underlying psychological problems which can actually trigger this condition. Ranging from excessive anxiety to depression there are many factors which can cause a person to develop eating disorders. Eating disorders are mostly caused by psychological problems, cultural and social pressures and biological problems.
Proper counseling, parental guidance and good support system can help people to overcome their eating disorder problem. In this article we will examine some of the likely causes of eating disorders.
Low Self Esteem
Teenagers are most likely to suffer from low self esteem or self worth. Self esteem is often tied to body image. Teenagers are extremely concerned about their body shape and want to appear thin and beautiful. Many teenagers consider themselves to be excessively fat when in fact their weight is just right. Many teenagers, especially teenage girls in their quest to get the so called beautiful body end up suffering from eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia.
Loneliness can drive a person to seek solace in food. It has been noted that people who suffer from extreme obesity are basically lonely people. When people are very lonely they start binge eating. This leads to obesity. Once a person becomes excessively fat or obese he/she fear social ridicule due to his/her massive size and begin to shun people. This leads to further loneliness. Eating disorders caused by loneliness often leads people into a vicious cycle.
Women who have been abused either physically or sexually have a higher incidence of suffering from eating disorders like bulimia. Many teenage girls who suffer from bulimia often confess to being sexually abused as young children.
Women who are in violent relationships where they have to endure constant physical or sexual abuse become bulimics. A recent survey has brought up a startling fact that almost thirty five percent of all women who suffer from bulimia have been sexually abused at some point or the other in their life.
Parental Attitudes and Behavior
Children who come from broken homes where the parents are busier sorting out their personal problems than taking care of the children are likely to suffer from eating disorders. When the parents show lack of interest in their children’s life or do no effort to spend quality time with their kids, children begin to feel neglected.
They may unleash their frustration by exhibiting unhealthy eating practices like eating too much food or avoiding food completely. Unwarranted and constant criticism by parents can cause a child to develop eating disorders. Parents who criticize their daughter for being too fat or their sons for being under achievers may unknowingly push their children into unhealthy eating practices.
Family History of Emotional Disorders or Addictions
Children who are born into families where either one of the parents had or continues to suffer from emotional problems are likely to develop psychological problems themselves. These children are extremely likely to suffer from some kind of eating disorder as they seek comfort in food.
In fact statistics have reveled that teenagers with bulimia in many cases come from families where one of the parents is suffering from psychiatric problems. Eating disorders are also higher among children whose parents suffer from some kind of addiction like alcohol or drug addiction.
Every day we are bombarded with images in the media of what a woman’s body should look like. Anorexic looking models hog the limelight to such an extent that young girls and even women strive to achieve that same body shape.
In their desire to look like their favorite catwalk model they end but being either anorexic or bulimic. On the other hand we are also exposed to tantalizing ads of calorie rich junk foods. This creates an urge to eat similar kinds of food which can result in obesity.
Eating disorders may also arise due to some hormonal imbalance which can either cause a person to eat too much or too little food.