Eating disorders are serious mental and physical illnesses that involve complex and damaging relationships with food, restrictive eating or avoidance of certain foods, exercise, body image, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative misuse or compulsive exercise. These behaviours if remain untreated can appear similar to an addiction. These disorders can impact anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, sex, gender, etc.
So far, up to 5% of the population, most often develop in adolescence and young adulthood. These disorders are behavioural conditions identified by a severe and persistent disturbance in eating behaviours and linked with distressing thoughts and emotions. They can be severe conditions affecting psychological, physical, social and cognitive function.
There are many types of eating disorders like pica, rumination disorder, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder but the three most commonly heard disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa & binge eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is identified by self-starvation and weight loss resulting in low weight for height and age. Dieting behaviour in anorexia nervosa is driven by an extreme fear of becoming fat or gaining weight. Albeit some individuals with anorexia will say they want and are trying to gain weight; their behaviour is not consistent with this objective. For example, they may only eat small amounts of food, exercise excessively or vomit consciously.
Serious medical complications can be life-threatening and excessive vomiting may irritate the oesophagus.
Bulimia Nervosa is distinguished by three vital features: “repeated episodes of binge eating, periodic inappropriate compensatory behaviours to prevent self-evaluation, and weight gain that is unduly influenced by body weight and body shape.
Binge is determined by a person “eating, in a distinct period of time, an amount of food that is certainly larger than what most individuals consume. Sometimes people with bulimia take steps to avoid weight gain by purging or excessive fasting. Research says that to meet the diagnosis criteria an individual must involve in these behaviours at least once per week for three months.
BINGE EATING DISORDER
Binge Eating Disorder commonly referred to as BED is the most common eating disorder diagnosis among all others. People with binge eating disorder have episodes of binge eating in which they consume large quantities of food items in a short period, experience a sense of loss of control over their eating and are distressed or disturbed by the binge behaviour.
Binge eating is chronic and can lead to serious health issues like; obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Below are some of the behaviours of the binge eater:
- Eating more rapidly than normal
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling hungry
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty afterwards.
It is difficult to understand the nature and exact cause of eating disorders. It is probably an amalgamation of psychological, biological and environmental factors.
Biological like genetic factors such as predispositions to medical such as depression, anxiety or mental illness.
Psychological; Experiencing a past or present trauma also increases one’s likelihood of developing a disordered eating belief or pattern. Also, personality traits that research explains can increase the possibility of developing an eating disorder, such as perfectionism, low self-worth, distorted body image, or impulsivity.
Environmental factor: This consists, of family belief system, peer pressure, frequent discussion on food, television, consumer culture etc. In addition, eating disorders are commonly diagnosed with people consuming any substance. (drugs).
The treatment of these above-mentioned disorders varies from person to person and a particular disorder.
- Behavioural therapy or psychotherapy; an individual complete history was taken into consideration, including food habits, moods, cognitive wellness, lifestyle, eating preferences etc a thorough counselling session was set up. For Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) etc.
- Medical monitoring; medical evaluation and treatment of any co-occurring psychiatric or medical conditions are important components of the treatment plan.
- Nutrition education; The nutritional plan focused on helping individuals counter anxiety about eating and practice consuming a wide and balanced range of foods of different calorie densities across regularly spaced meals.
Dilemma towards the treatment, denial of a problem with eating and weight, or apprehension or anxiety about changing eating patterns is common. With proper medical care, nevertheless, those with eating disorders can continue with healthy eating habits and recoup their emotional and psychological health. Along with medical treatment and therapies, the support of family members and loves is very much necessary for a quick recovery.