Here’s what eating disorders really look like
Food is one of your basic needs as a human being. It’s a great way to nourish and energize your body. Without food you would be malnourished, feel weak and possibly fall ill. Today there are so many food options, some healthier than others. With diet culture pressuring women (and men) to look one way or the other, it makes sense why a lot of people would develop unhealthy relationships with food. Take a look below to see how a bad relationship with food can lead to an eating disorder.
What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is described as a persistent (continuous) unhealthy eating habit that can affect your body physically and psychologically. In other words, people who suffer from an eating disorder have an unhealthy relationship with food.
There are three types of eating disorders:
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder – this involves an unhealthy habit of avoiding certain foods or limiting your food intake to very small quantities. This habit usually starts from a very young age. A lot of people who struggle with this eating disorder experience guilt, which can lead to a stronger need to control what or how much they eat.
Bulimia Nervosa – this involves an unhealthy habit of binge-eating (eating a lot of food at once) that’s usually followed by forcing yourself to throw up or other behaviours that help you ease the guilt of overeating, like using laxatives.
Binge eating disorder – is an unhealthy habit of extreme overeating, accompanied by feelings of loss of control about eating.
Remember that these eating disorders can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional. So, if you suspect that you might have an eating disorder, it is best to see a doctor/nurse for diagnosis.
What causes eating disorders?
According to mental health professionals, there’s no clear cause for eating disorders but they have noticed that most people who are diagnosed with eating disorders struggle with low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
A lot of the time, people who have an unhealthy relationship with food are actually trying to control an area of their lives that they have the least control over. The obsessive need to control their eating habits often takes over their lives and affects their general well-being.
It’s hard to tell if someone has an eating disorder because it can be easily hidden. However, their physical and mental health often give it away when their condition gets worse. Remember, eating disorders are a medical condition and they require medical attention and treatment. Struggling with an eating disorder doesn’t make you ‘crazy’ or ‘ungrateful’, it simply means that you need a bit of help dealing with your condition and the issues that have led to it.
Advice and Treatment
Eating disorders are different and may require different treatment programs. Treatment often involves medication, therapy, nutritional advice and close monitoring. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, SADAG (a lifeline for support and treatment) can assist you.
Eating disorders may seem like a myth but they are real. Pay attention to your relationship with food and if you notice that it is concerning, do not be afraid to reach out for help. Contact me if you need someone to talk to about this – you don’t have to go through it alone.
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