Eating disorders definition talks of a broad range of serious psychological conditions that result in the development of unhealthy eating habits. Most often than not, the causes of eating disorders are focusing too much on your body weight and obsessing about your body shape and image. These eating disorders can culminate in grave health conditions and at times even lead to death if remain untreated for longer times.
Though the eating disorders symptoms are various, the most severe ones are restricting food, binge-eating, or developing purging behaviors like over-exercising and vomiting. Eating disorders can be developed by people of all genders and all ages, but they are mostly reported in teens and young women. Statistics even claim that 13% of young adults may already have experienced one or other eating disorder by the time they turn 20.
Some most common eating disorders types are –
● Anorexia Nervosa – Anorexia Nervosa is well-known for being a life-threatening eating disorder. In most cases, Anorexia Nervosa develops in the adolescent years or in the early years of adulthood.
This eating disorder is often characterized by exceptionally low body weight, a distorted and false perception of one’s body weight, and an acute fear of gaining weight. People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa monitor their weight on a regular basis and use all kinds of mild to severe measures to keep their body weight and shape in control. In order to control their calorie consumption, Anorexic people often retort to severe methods such as using diet aids or laxatives, developing purging behavior where they vomit out everything they eat and indulge in excessive exercising.
All these methods deteriorate the health of an individual and pave the way to heart, brain, or multi-organ failure, and sometimes may even lead to death.
● Bulimia Nervosa – Bulimia Nervosa, often simply called Bulimia is also a potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Very similar to Anorexia, Bulimia is also all about an eating disorder in adolescence.
Bulimia is found to be more common in women than in men. In Bulimia Nervosa, people uncommonly eat a large amount of food in a particular period of time. During each of these binge episodes, the person continues eating to a point where he/she feels distressingly full. After binge-eating, Bulimic people experience excessive guilt and shame and an uncomfortable horror of gaining weight from overeating consumes them.
Resultingly in their pursuit to get rid of these extra calories, they employ several severe methods such as forced vomiting, using laxatives, enemas, and exercising excessively. In very serious cases, Bulimia may also result in creating an imbalance in electrolytes level in the body which further can become a reason for stroke and heart attack.
● Rumination Disorder – relatively a newly recognized eating disorder, Rumination disorder is characterized by repetitive and persistent regurgitation of food after eating. In rumination disorder, the person brings up the previously chewed and swallowed food and re-chew it, and then spit it out or sometimes swallow it back. Rumination most commonly occurs within the first 30 minutes of finishing the meal.
Rumination Disorder develops at several stages of life, in some, it develops in the Infancy period, in some, it develops during childhood, and in others, it develops during adulthood. In infants, rumination disorder develops between 3-12 months of age and often gets treated on its own.
On the other hand, children and adults often need therapy to overcome this disorder. If the disorder persists in infants for longer periods it leads to severe weight loss and malnutrition which can turn out to be fatal for individual health. Also, adults suffering from rumination disorder tend to limit the amount of food they consume which results in weight loss.
● Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder – Avoidant/ Restrictive food intake disorder(ARFID) is a new name conferred to a relatively old eating disorder. People suffering from this disorder experience disrupted eating patterns and often fail in fulfilling their daily nutrition requirements.
This happens because of two main reasons – being uninterested in eating and developing revulsions for food with a certain smell, textures, color, taste, and temperature. In AFRID restrictive food habits are not reasoned to fear of gaining weight they rather are reasoned to different consequences as fear of choking.
Prevention of these eating disorders –
The prevention of these life-threatening eating disorders starts with an open, frank, and fulfilling conversation. Parents need to talk to their sons and daughters and discuss their eating habits and body image perceptions. Some crucial steps which go a long way in preventing eating disorders–
1. Promotion of a healthy body image – parents should talk to their kids about body images and gain an insight into how their kids perceive their own body-image. Convey to them that healthy body shapes vary from person to person. Parents themselves should not make comments on anyone’s physical appearance and should avoid cracking jokes on someone’s weight and body shape.
2. Develop healthy eating habits in kids – discuss the importance of a healthy diet for the development of a healthy body, good appearance, and good energy levels for the body with the kids. Make it a habit of eating together at home as a family once every day. Politely ask your teen kid to eat whenever they are hungry and do not promote severe weight control methods among kids. Also in these times of COVID-19 and the pandemic try keeping your home safe while ensuring to spend more time with your kids.
3. Develop the self-esteem of your child – convey your appreciation and praise to your teen kid whenever they achieve something or accomplish their goals. Be a good listener and show interest in what your kid speaks about, do not treat their ideas as foolish. Show your teen kid that you love them and care for them unconditionally and that your love towards them is not based on their weight and physical appearance.
4. Share the ill-effects of dieting with your child – briefly explain to them how the practice of dieting takes a toll on individual health, compromise their nutrition intake, and in severe cases also leads to eating disorder. Tell them that coping with the emotional disturbance in their life by binge-eating or restricting their diet is not a good option. Instead, ask them to reach to you or their friends and share all the problems and difficulties they might be facing.