You’re on your way back from office in the evening and your mind wanders, and soon enough you’re thinking about dinner. What do I want to eat? Do I feel like cooking or ordering in? Would Chinese food fit into my diet plan? Food is central to our lives. We all have different tastes in food and different eating habits. We also change our preferences from time to time, go on diets and give in to cravings. These are all normal tendencies when it comes to thinking about food.
For some people, the thought process goes beyond this; they become obsessed with food, weight and body image issues. This causes them to drastically change their eating habits; they may begin to eat extremely small or extremely large portions of food on a regular basis. They may even stop eating for a significant period of time (this does not include people who fast for religious or cultural reasons). Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can cause significant damage to your health. However, they are completely treatable and the sooner one reaches for help, the higher the chances of recovery.
Some of the common symptoms of eating disorders are:
It is important to remember that dieting and watching what you eat are perfectly normal behaviors. Being on a strict diet does not necessarily mean that the person is suffering from an eating disorder. When a person suffers from an eating disorder, their relationship with food or their body image becomes irrational. For instance, the diet itself becomes an obsession while the reason for the diet becomes secondary, or is lost completely. Another example would be of a person who is visibly underweight and still believes they need to lose weight.
There is no single factor because of which a person develops an eating disorder, the reasons are usually complex. Eating disorders can result from a variety of psychological, social and behavioral influences. Some of these factors are:
The most common eating disorders are:
Eating disorders are complex problems that affect the mind and also have severely damaging effects on your physical health. However, with proper treatment, a complete recovery is possible. The earlier you seek help for an eating disorder, the greater are your chances of making a full recovery.
Treatment is usually carried out by a team of professionals: to treat your physical health, your mental health, and to help with your nutrition and help you cultivate better dietary practices. Depending on the severity of your problem, you may or may not require hospitalization. The first step in treatment is to stabilize your condition and ensure there are no serious threats to your health.
The next concern is to ensure that you are at a healthy weight. You will be helped with your nutrition and encouraged to adopt better eating habits to sustain good health. Counseling and therapy are essential for your recovery; it will help you overcome your fear of weight and develop healthy habits regarding your food, weight and body image.
Caring for a friend or family member with an eating disorder can be quite a trying time but it is important to know that there is hope, and with the right support your loved one can recover fully. People suffering from eating disorders have a great sense of shame related to their problem. Sometimes they may be unaware that they are suffering from an eating disorder, or may be in denial. However, it is important that they receive treatment. Talk to them about their problem without being pushy or judgmental, give them the space to open up and talk about their fears. Always remember that an eating disorder is not about food or weight, it is caused by deep-rooted emotional issues that your loved one has been unable to cope with. People suffering from eating disorders need a lot of support during their treatment and recovery. It is essential that people around display good eating habits and avoid discussions on food, weight and body image. Lastly, you need to accept that treatment of eating disorders takes time and there are no quick solutions.
Treatment of an eating disorder can be long and stressful but it is important that you comply with the treatment plan and focus on getting better. People develop eating disorders as a way to cope with their emotional issues, so it is important for you to find better coping mechanisms. You may have been using food as a means to gain a sense of control, either by avoiding it or overeating; it is essential that you avoid this urge and use better methods to cope with your issues. Try not to isolate yourself too much, being alone can make it harder to cope with your emotional issues. Talking to someone when you're feeling low will help you share some of your stress.