Eating disorders are just not a lifestyle choice or phase. They are mental disorders which affect people physically and psychologically, and if become severe may also lead to death. It’s vital for us to first have complete information about eating disorders so that we get better ingest and take initiative towards dealing with it. It’s seen that eating disorders are more common amongst women than in men and in adolescents.
Some of the common eating disorders are:
- Anorexia Nervosa: people suffering from anorexia nervosa are obsessed with their body weight in extreme. They restrict their calorie intake, they are very selective in choice of food which they consume. They are underweight yet they are consistently worried about gaining weight. They constantly deny that they are underweight infect being this way helps them maintain their self-esteem. Some individuals restrict their food and on the other hand there are people who would binge eat first and then purge it all out by vomiting, taking laxatives or doing extreme form of physical exercise to burn the calories. These activities may sever damage their physical health by causing thinning of bones and hair, making teeth and nails break off easily and in extreme cases may cause heart brain and multi organ failure causing death.
- Bulimia nervosa: this is another eating disorder which is more common in women and adolescents. Here people eat unusually large amount of food in a very short span of time. The patient usually reports that they find it difficult to stop eating once the binge eat episode begins and they keep eating until they feel painfully full. Once they are full they purge the food out to balance their calories and relieve their stomach discomfort. Even though the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa and anorexia nervosa is similar, people with bulimia nervosa have normal weight unlike the excess underweight of people with anorexia nervosa. Because of the repeated vomiting and purging patters, people with bulimia nervosa get swollen food pipes and salivary glands, severe dehydration, tooth delay, and in severe cases the imbalance in body levels of electrolytes may cause stroke or heart disease.
- Binge eating disorder: It was recently recognized as an eating disorder. Like other eating disorders this too begins in adolescent’s bad early childhood. The way it is different from other eating disorders is people who do binge eating do not try to purge everything out as a result of which they are overweight and obese.
- Pica: this eating disorder doesn’t involve food, instead people eats and crave for non-food substances like dirt, soil, cloth, wool, hair, pebbles, laundry detergents etc. onset can be as early as early childhood to adult life. People with this eating disorder faces various physical problems like gut injuries, infections, poisoning, mal nutrition etc. if eating the non-food substance is accepted by their society and culture of the person then it is not considered pica.
- Rumination disorder: people with this eating disorder regurgitates food which they have eaten in the past 30 mins, re chews it and after that either swallows it or spits it out. The entire process is done voluntarily. Infants tend to develop this between 3 to 12 months of age which usually disappears with time on its own. It can also develop during childhood and adulthood. It not treated it may lead to malnutrition and weight loss.
- Avoidant or Restrictive food intake disorder: generally develops during infancy and childhood but may also persist into adulthood. Unlike other eating disorders, which were more common in women, this disorder is common in both males and females. People with this disorder restricts the food or avoids it due to lack of interest in eating or because they repel from certain smells, colours, temperature, taste, texture etc. because of this symptom these people are underweight and have malnutrition, they also avoid social gatherings or meetings people because of their this condition.
Step 1: Insight and acceptance
First and foremost is not to listen to your brain which tells you that you would be happy only if you lose weight instead you should try to listen to what your body is saying to you and meet its demands. First and foremost it is vital to have intellectual and emotional insight about the problem. To get the understanding that weight has nothing to do with confidence, self-esteem, and happiness. Self-love is what is required. And self-acceptance is of utmost importance.
Step 2: Confine
Seek help from someone in your environment. Someone who would understand your feelings and not judge you. This step might be hard for the patients to take but remind yourself that is is a very important step towards recovery. The person in whom you can confide could be your mother father, friend, school counsellor, or a po=rod=fissional clinical psychologist. One the patient is able to confine in someone, they should explain the entire problem patiently to the person as they might not be able to able to relate to the problem instantly. They might also have their own emotional reaction and lack of information. Once they are able to digest the problem, the patient should be specific about the kind of help he is looking for from the confidant.
Step 3: Selecting your team of doctors
When we talk of treating eating disorders, there are many aspects we need to convert starting from medical consequences, malnutrition and emotional consequences. It is important to have a team who are expert in each field and can take care in the best way. A team of physicians, nutritionist and clinical psychologist collaborating together may work best in treating eating disorders. First priority should be given to all the health related issues. All the physical problems which the person might be going through due to purging, binge eating, overweight, and pica should be addressed first.
Step 4: Therapy
Once all the psychical symptoms or issues related to physical health is taken care of, a long term recovery plan can be decided mutually with other team. There are different forms of therapy which will help the patient to reach to the root cause of their disorder, improve self-esteem, and teach healthy ways to cope with stress and emotional pain. Family interventions are also a part of the therapy process where family members can also get an insight about the problem and collaborate work with the therapist and help the patient recover from eating disorder. Family therapy may also help them develop better relationships amongst family members which can be therapeutic element in the recovery process. Furing therapy the patient will learn how to deal with stress and other pressing situations effectively. Also they will learn to develop balanced relationship with food so that, patient can let go of rigid eating rules, choose proper and balanced meal, stick to regular eating patterns and learn to listen to bodily needs by not pushing the body to do anything in extreme. Very initial role of the therapist is to help patients gain back their confidence and self-worth. Help them to accept themselves the way they are. Last but not the least therapy would also help the patient to manage relapse by developing solid support system helping the patient and the family identify the triggers which may lead to relapse and keep sticking to the action plan.
Step 5: See a dietician
With the help of dietician patient can learn how to develop healthy eating behaviors in their everyday life over a period of time. They teach the patient to develop healthier relationship with food.