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EATING DISORDERS; ARE THEY REAL?

Eating disorders need to be curbed as soon as it’s discovered as they can cause grave health conditions, with death as a possibility if left unchecked or treated.

Audrey Wendy Woode
Audrey Wendy Woode

Eating disorders are mental health or psychological conditions marked by unhealthy eating habits, extreme obsession with food or body stature. Eating disorders usually develop together with other psychological issues or disorders like anxiety, panic, emotional torture, etc. Individuals who suffer from this disorder are usually self-conscious and overly concerned about their body weight, and body shape. Most of the recognized eating disorders include the extreme restriction of food, vomiting, over-exercising and food binges. They can affect people of any gender however, it’s much more common among adolescents and young women. Eating disorders need to be curbed as soon as they are discovered as they can cause grave health conditions, with death as a possibility if left unchecked or treated. One of the most popular eating disorders is, Anorexia Nervosa.

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Anorexia Nervosa is an unhealthy and life-threatening eating disorder which is often characterized by self-starvation which leads to extreme weight loss and abnormally low weight, and an overwhelming fear of weight gain. Anorexia victims usually obsess so much about their body weight and hence, resort to drastic and unhealthy measures in order to lose the “so-called fat”. It is usually their topmost priority to ensure that there is not even a little sign of weight gain or body fat. For most of these victims, it is not just about the desire to be very thin but most of them find their self-confidence and self-worth in being thin or slim, and so fail to realize it when they are overly thin for a person of that age. I'm sure you are very much aware of how people especially young girls are so obsessed with how their tummy looks, how their posterior is shaped etc. This prolonged desire to have a particular body stature is what can make Anorexia set in. I mean, if I don’t eat and I’ll lose weight, who cares? No pain, no gain right? However guys and ladies, Anorexia, just like other unhealthy eating disorders can take over an individual’s life and if unchecked in its initial stages may be difficult to overcome. You can literally lead yourself to an early grave if you don’t overcome it. Now, I'm about  to share with you, the two official types of Anorexia. They are:

1.    The Restrictive type- Individuals who experience this type lose weight by fasting, avoiding the intake of certain foods they perceive would make them fat, counting calories, excessive exercises. They mostly eat nothing. Can you believe that a person can actually go some days without eating anything and it’s not for the purposes of religious activities like fasting but then, just so that they don't get big or fat. It is very disheartening, trust me, especially when these people have no ounce of fat on their bodies yet they still think they are fat.

2.    The Binge eating and purging type- Individuals who experience this type usually binge on a lot of food, especially unhealthy foods, and then after they eat, they force themselves to bring out the food by vomiting, using laxatives or exercising excessively. They can eat all the food there is to eat and immediately they finish, they disappear to the washroom to get it all out or take laxatives. Eventually, the food must come out one way or the other, hence, they do not allow food to digest. After all, if it digests, that’s when the various nutrients can work right? So why not bring the process to an abrupt end. I mean, guys, ladies, how awkward is it when you have to stick your fingers down your throat in order to cause yourself to vomit? Yuck! Don’t do it!

Anorexia is not a condition that should be played with or considered a joke at all friends! It can completely damage the body over time because bodily functions are not sustained due to less intake of food. Anorexia means “loss of appetite”. It’s literal meaning though is not what happens because victims of anorexia do feel the hunger pangs and want to eat but choose to ignore it and continue to starve themselves. The risk of developing this disorder is greater in models, dancers, athletes etc. Alessia Cara wasn’t wrong when she said in her hit song “Scars to your beautiful” that, “Cover girls eat NOTHING”. It is really a fact. Anorexia is most common amongst models and beauty pageant contestants. Beyonce also brought it to light in her hit song “Pretty hurts”.

HOW CAN ONE DETECT IT?

It may be quite tough to detect it or notice the signs and symptoms as most of the victims do well to hide it. Why would they hide it if they didn’t know that they have a problem which is a disorder? Do tell me friends! They are mostly aware that it is wrong and dangerous but I guess the desire to stay thin is stronger than the desire to live a healthy life. Also, what may be considered to be a low body weight differs from person to person. However, there are some general signs that can help in the detection or diagnose of Anorexia. Some of these are:

· Extreme weight loss

· Really thin looking body

· Frequent tiredness due to no or little source of energy

· Dizzy spells

· Dehydration

· Victims usually do not eat in public so that no one would suspect

· Victims usually deny feeling hungry

· Ineffectiveness and slowness

· Individuals weigh and measure their bodies frequently

· They usually wear oversized clothes, so as not to be discovered

· They withdraw socially

· Reduced or no interest in sex

· Exercising too much

· Irregular heart rhythm

· Lack of adequate sleep

· Abnormal blood count

· Swelling of arms and legs

· Frequent skipping of meals

· Mood swings

These and many more are some ways you can detect if someone is Anorexic.

SOME CAUSES OF ANOREXIA

The causes of anorexia, just like the symptoms differ from person to person. However, most of the causes are either through genetics, psychological and the environment. These are some causes:

· Anorexics are mostly perfectionists and so are extremely critical of themselves. They usually feel that they are overweight even when they are very thin. Most of them are usually comparing themselves to other people who to them, have the perfect body types.

· Low self-esteem. Isn’t it amazing that a person can stop going to school because of this? Some people think they are so fat and their friends in school will tease them.

· Emotional Instability

· Anxiety

· The pressure to be like some particular people

· Pressure from their society or their occupation to be thin. e.g. models

· A past record of teasing or bullying about body shape and weight

· Past criticism about their eating habits

· Beloved, Anorexia can have life-threatening effects on individuals who experience it. In the initial stages, such individuals may deny having a problem and would keep on with this dangerous method of losing weight. They are very grave and I’ll humbly plead with you to get help and eschew from it if you're already in it and don't start at all if you plan to!! Seriously, don't!! Take a look at some of these effects and judge for yourself:

· Anaemia

· Heart problems

· Absence of menstrual period in females

· Decreased testosterone

· Loss of muscle

· Kidney problems e.g Kidney stones

· Substance misuse

· Self-injury

· Suicidal thoughts

· Low blood potassium

· Constipation, bloating, or nausea

· Thinning of the bones

· In pregnant women, it can cause miscarriage

· Infertility

· Weakness

· Fatigue

· Depression

· Low iron levels

· Heart failure

· Cardiac arrest

· Migraines

· Bad memory

I’m assuring you that it is very possible to recover from anorexia no matter how long a person has been living with it.

BULIMIA

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When it comes to Bulimia, a victim binge eats or eats a large amount of food at a sitting and then forces himself or herself to bring the food out by self-induced vomits, misuse of laxatives, weight-loss supplements, or diuretics after binge-eating. Victims can also resort to other ways of getting rid of calories and prevent weight gain such as restrictive dieting, fasting, and excessive exercise. They usually have no self-control over eating. It is frequently detected in teens and young adults, especially females. Girls are more particular about weight issues than guys, undisputedly. I’m sure you do agree with me.

Now, how can we detect this disorder called bulimia?

No matter how the person tries to hide it, these symptoms can expose bulimia victims. Check them out:

•          Victims are usually overly concerned about body shape and weight.

•          Discomfort when eating around people

•          Develop food rituals e.g. not eating some types of food

•          Skip meals or take a very little portion of food

•          Disappear to the washroom as soon as they finish eating and spend a long time there.

•          Hide their bodies with baggy clothes

•          Hoard food and hide them

•          Live in so much fear of gaining weight

Although this disorder is popular, it is very sad that the actual cause of bulimia is not known but based on the symptoms and individual personality, what causes bulimia in individual persons may vary. For example, emotional trauma, psychological problems etc. may be the cause in some people. However, for others, it could mainly be for social acceptance, insecurity, low self-esteem etc.

Bulimia needs to be checked as soon as possible because the effects are very alarming and can severely impact a person’s health and general wellbeing. Some of these effects include:

•          Dehydration, which can eventually lead to kidney failure

•          Absent or irregular menstrual periods in females

•          Digestive problems

•          Anxiety disorder and depression

•          Dizzy spells

•          Brittle nails

•          Feeling cold all the time

•          Insomnia

•          Muscle weakness

•          Wounds do not heal properly

•          Yellow and dry skin

•          Stomach cramps

•          Fainting

•          Tooth decay and gum disease

•          Misuse of drugs

•          Suicidal thoughts

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Bulimia can be prevented and a victim can have normal eating habits. Seek the help of a therapist immediately you see some of the signs in someone or even yourself. Protect your health and save your life. My friends, just think about this; what will be the essence of losing your life to these unhealthy habits or disorders. To maintain a good body weight and stature, just eat healthy foods and exercise frequently. You're good to go. Your life is precious!! Stay healthy!

Audrey Wendy Woode

A determined, hardworking and result-oriented lady. I love to read, write, swim, etc. I'm a media enthusiast. I love to connect with people.