An eating disorder is one or a combination of a range of unhealthy attitudes and behaviors towards food. Lots of people go through stages of over eating if they are unhappy in search of comfort, but this can become a dangerous obsession and lead to life threatening illness. This article will help you know how to get an eating disorder so you may know how to treat it.
Most eating disorders involve the sufferer developing a deep fear of putting on weight and therefore monitoring their calorie intake to extreme levels. This causes all kinds of hormone imbalances and failures in the day to day functioning of the body.
How to Get an Eating Disorder – Types
Anorexia nervosa – Sufferers of this disease exercise incredibly strict control over what they eat, and often exercise excessively as well. They often develop this from a need to be in control, and may begin dieting safely and sensibly but gradually develop the disease as the good feelings from losing weight become addictive.
Bulimia – This is the same need to control weight as anorexia, but with the added complication of binge eating. The sufferer will then purge all the food from their bodies by vomiting or overdosing on laxatives, both of which have serious long term effects on the body.
The Causes of an Eating Problem
It is not clear exactly how to get an eating disorder. There are a number of factors that are involved in the development of these illnesses. There seems to be some evidence that they run in families, but this may simply be that parents who have a less than healthy body image can pass this onto their children by their behavior rather than genetically. Psychological and social factors are easier to identify.
The media holds up unattainable images of physical perfection, and that combined with self esteem issues, a feeling of lack of control or deep emotions that have no other outlet are a short step to an eating disorder. The advertising of and easy access to fatty, high sugar foods may also be a factor; temptation is all around and sugar offers a fast hit of dopamine which creates happy, relaxed feelings.
Family pressure or comments about weight can push young adults into an unhealthy relationship with food, as can stressful times like exams when they may feel the need to take control of even just a small part of their lives. There is no one thing that can be directly blamed for causing eating disorders; it is generally a combination of many factors that are to blame.
Spotting the Danger Signs
If a potential eating disorder is caught early, it is easier to prevent it becoming really dangerous, so keep an eye out for some of the signs –
- An obsession with weight, dieting or exercise, or complaining of fatness or weight gain when they are clearly not overweight
- Avoiding eating in company; either by having plans to eat later or having already eaten. Refusing to eat in restaurants
- Only eating tiny amounts of food in front of friends and relatives, or really low calorie foods such as salad leaves and water.
- Obsession with body image, looking in the mirror and weighing themselves
It can be very difficult to talk to people with an eating disorder; they generally deny any problem and cover up evidence very well. If you are worried about a friend or relative seek advice from a charity or help agency on how to help them.
How to Get an Eating Disorder – Treating an Eating Problem
Roughly one in 250 women will suffer from anorexia at some point, with the figure for men being much lower at one in two thousand. Teenagers are most at risk, due to the pressures of puberty and changing body image at this time. Bulimia will affect about 5 times more people than anorexia, meaning that about one in every 50 women will be affected to some extent which is a huge amount of the population. Binge eating tend to affect people in their 30’s and 40’s, but as it is difficult to define exactly what constitutes this eating disorder the data on numbers is difficult to define.
There is no wonder drug to cure eating disorders, and if they are not treated they can have very serious effects on the sufferer, sometimes even death. Recovery can take a long time as it involves changing attitudes towards food, and these negative attitudes are very embedded and enforced which makes them very hard to get rid of.
CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) involves trying to change how a person thinks about their behaviors and the situations that they are in, with the aim of changing the way they react to these situations to a more positive behavior. Psychotherapy can help get the patient talking about their feeling towards food and relationships with other people that may be causing the feelings of low self esteem and lack of control; removing the cause may help the disease.
Counseling that focuses on healthy dietary habits and helps the patient learn how to eat a healthy diet whilst still taking in enough calories, vitamins and minerals to survive and function can also be an effective treatment. Medication cannot directly cure the illness, but it can treat underlying symptoms and effects such as depression, so selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which are a type of anti depressant may be prescribed to sufferers of anorexia. Family members may also receive counseling and advice on how to deal with the issues facing a sufferer, and how to help them overcome the problem.
Eating disorders are a serious problem, and the best way to combat them is to develop healthy attitudes towards food as a child and young adult. Parents should not draw too much attention to a child’s weight, but encourage them to eat healthily by providing good foods and snacks, whilst still allowing a few treats so that they do not become forbidden and therefore highly desirable. Getting children outside to play at least a few times a week and supporting any sporting interest they show is a great way to get them exercising and enjoying it at the same time. Overall, a healthy attitude to food and body image are the best way to stop any potential eating disorder before it starts. Learn how to get an eating disorder so that you’ll get to prevent them from happening to you.