Updated: Jul 11, 2020
An eating disorder is an illness that is characterized by unhealthy eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape. Eating disturbances may include insufficient or excessive food intake which has the potential to damage an individual's well-being.
The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binging, and Purging.
An unfortunate survey shows us that at least 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the United States of America. Throughout the world, the prevalence of such disorders is growing exponentially. They affect people of all races and ethnicities and are a resulting culmination of genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits. Read on to learn more about how eating disorders can affect your health, and the proven ways to manage it.
How do eating disorders affect your health?
1. Cardiovascular System
Eating and the purging, a common behavior of people suffering from eating disorders, causes them to lose electrolytes, which are essential chemicals required for the proper functioning of the heart. Inadequate consumption of food leads to the breaking down of the body’s own tissues in order to fuel itself. The most common tissue to be broken down is that of the heart muscle, and this causes the heart to function weakly, and the pumping becomes feeble.
2. Hormonal Imbalances
Decreased consumption of fats leads to a decrease in the secretion of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and other essential hormones, required for the proper functioning of the body. Binge eating can condition the body to become resistant to insulin, leading to Type-2 diabetes. These hormonal imbalances lead to an unhealthy fluctuation in weight gain/loss.
3. Gastrointestinal Issues
Prolonged starvation leads to a slowed digestion, a condition known as gastroparesis. In addition, there are other ill effects such as constipation, rupturing of the stomach, incessant vomiting, and swelling of the salivary glands. There is also persistent abdomen pain, and a feeling of hollowness attached to eating disorders.
4. Neurological Complications
The brain is significantly affected by eating disorders. Since it consumes a notable portion of the body's calories, it loses its ability to function fast and focus on tasks. This also leads to sleeplessness at night, anxiety, and depression. Fainting and dizziness may also occur as a result of not enough blood being pumped to the brain.
How do you manage eating disorders?
1. Build your confidence
A majority of eating disorders are built upon low self-esteem and low confidence. Take the time to understand where your body image issues stem from, and try forming habits that curb the toxicity and negativity related to it. It is important to learn that every single body shape is beautiful and does not need to be changed.
2. Build a healthy relationship with food
Instead of viewing food as something that causes you to gain weight, start looking at it as an essential carrier for all the important nutrients and vitamins you need to help your body function healthily. Read books on nutrition and the health facts about food to understand how much of a blessing it is.
3. Talk it out
Talking out about your feelings helps with coping with the mental issues that may have caused the eating disorder. Eating disorders are inherently a mental disorder and so it helps to treat them as such. Talking to friends and family helps you overcome your issues, and they help you regain your confidence.
4. Seek professional help
If the symptoms associated with your eating disorders are taking a visible toll on you, you might need professional intervention. Never hesitate to reach out for medical help. Seek out psychologists, or trained counselors to confide in. There are a number of toll-free numbers and online free services that you can contact for an immediate response.
Link for helplines and online chat services - (https://www.vandrevalafoundation.com)
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663
If you’re looking for training in the practice of nurturing and caring yourself, feel free to contact us for a free discovery session. We’ll be sure to train you in the best way possible, and you will emerge successful and confident.
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Marques, L., Alegria, M., Becker, A. E., Chen, C.-n., Fang, A., Chosak, A., & Diniz, J. B. (2011). Comparative prevalence correlates of impairment, and service utilization for eating disorders across US ethnic groups: implications for reducing ethnic disparities in health care access for eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44(5), 412-4120.
Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348–358.
Le Grange, D., Swanson, S. A., Crow, S. J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2012). Eating disorder not otherwise specified presentation in the US population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45(5), 711-718.