All too often, society associates being “thin”, with “hard-working, beautiful, strong and self-disciplined.” On the other hand, being “fat” is associated with being “lazy, ugly, weak and lacking will-power.” Because of these harsh critiques, rarely are women completely satisfied with their image. As a result, they often feel great anxiety and pressure to achieve and/or maintain an imaginary appearance. Eating disorders frequently develop during adolescence or early adulthood, but can occur during childhood or later in adulthood. Females are more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are serious medical problems. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge- eating disorder are all types of eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa is a disorder characterized by (a) the refusal to maintain body weight of at least 85% of normal expected weight; (b) intense fear of weight gain; (c) distorted body perception; and (d) amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle).
Many anorexics deny having a problem; however, some do recognize their eating disordered behavior, but do not know what to do to fix it.
Bulimia Nervosa is defined as
(a) recurrent episodes of binge eating experienced as out of control;
(b) regular purging, fasting, or excessive exercise to prevent weight gain;
(c) at least two episodes of binging and purging per week for at least three months; and
(d) persistent over-concern with weight and shape.
Binge-eating disorder is characterized by uncontrollable binge eating without compensatory behaviors.
Complications from eating disorders:
Complications from starvation and severe dieting:
~Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycle)
~Electrolyte imbalances, which lead to fatigue, diminished reflexes, kidney damage, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, death
~Cognitive impairment (i.e. clouded or distorted perception or thinking, difficulty concentrating, difficulty comprehending)
~Dangerously low heartbeat and blood pressure
~Severe abdominal pain
~Sustained starvation can even lead to death
Complications from purging methods:
~Vomiting: electrolyte imbalance that can lead to cardiac arrest and death; abdominal cramping; anemia; dehydration; headaches; tooth decay; tears in esophagus; chronic sore throat; difficulty swallowing
~Diuretic Abuse: electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, muscle weakness or cramping, headaches, fatigue
~Laxative Abuse: electrolyte imbalance, constipation, dehydration, muscle weakness or cramping, headaches, fatigue
Complications from compulsive overeating:
Causes of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are more than just a problem with food. Food is used to feel in control of other feelings that may seem overwhelming. For example, starving is a way for people with anorexia to feel more in control of their lives and to ease tension, anger, and anxiety. Purging and other behaviors to prevent weight gain are
ways for people with bulimia to feel more in control of their lives and to ease stress and anxiety.
Although there is no single known cause of eating disorders, several things may contribute to the development of these disorders:
~Culture. In the United States extreme thinness is a social and cultural ideal, and women partially define
themselves by how physically attractive they are.
•Personal characteristics. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and poor self-image often accompany eating disorders.
~Other emotional disorders. Other mental health problems, like depression or anxiety, occur along with eating disorders.
Stressful events or life changes. Things like starting a new school or job or being teased and traumatic events like rape can lead to the onset of eating disorders.
~Biology. Studies are being done to look at genes, hormones, and chemicals in the brain that may have an effect on the development of, and recovery from eating disorders.
~Families. Parents’ attitudes about appearance and diet can affect their kids’ attitudes. Also, if your mother or sister has bulimia, you are more likely to have it.
The earlier a woman starts to diet, the more prone she will be to health problems such as eating disorders and alcohol misuse, scientists have warned. Researchers noted the earlier a woman started to diet, the more likely they were to suffer long-term health consquences. One possible reason was ‘there is already something different’ about women who start dieting at an early age in terms of their social environment or genetic make-up.
Eating disorders are often driven by social, psychological and biological factors, said Professor Keel. She said discouraging weight loss diets in young girls may reduce risk for eating, alcohol and weight-related problems in adulthood.
Too much of a good thing can be very bad for you. Just like eating disorders, societal pressures to be thin can also push women to exercise too much. Over-exercise is when someone engages in strenuous physical activity to the point that is unsafe and unhealthy. In fact, some studies indicate that young women who are compelled to exercise at excessive levels are at risk for developing eating disorders.
Eating disorders and over exercising go hand-in-hand — they both can be a result of an unhealthy obsession with your body. The most dangerous aspect of over- exercising is the ease with which it can go unrecognized. The condition can be easily hidden by an emphasis on fitness or a desire to be healthy. Like bulimia and anorexia, in which persons deny themselves adequate nutrition by restrictive eating behaviours, over exercising is a controlled behaviour that denies the body the energy and nutrition needed to maintain a healthy weight.
According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, a host of physical consequences can result from over- exercising — pulled muscles, stress fractures, knee trauma, shin splints, strained hamstrings, and ripped tendons.
Remember, fitness should be done within limits and integrated into your lifestyle, done in moderation like everything else in life. If exercising is getting in the way of your daily activities or relationships, you may need to slow down.
Love your self; Love your body!
Reference: Web MD