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What You Should Know About Eating Disorders

Written by Dr. Pramod Mane on Wed, 16 November 2022

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Food is one of the many things that bring us together. Whether it is celebrating your promotion over dinner with family or a midnight snack at a cram session with your study group, food and eating together remains common. A lot of us don't give much thought to our eating patterns, much less to that of others. This could be why eating disorders go unnoticed.

What are eating disorders?

An inner voice cursing you for eating cake. A compulsive need to chomp down on 2 bags of chips. The feeling that you are defined by the way you look and how much you weigh. This is what an eating disorder looks like.

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that could lead you into a wormhole of unhealthy eating habits. The starting point is usually an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. As they aggravate, they can cause some serious health problems. Anybody can develop an eating disorder, but they are most commonly seen in young women.

What causes eating disorders?

The causes of eating disorders can be one of the many discussed below. They can be hereditary. Or due to some personality traits like neuroticism, perfectionism, or impulsivity. Certain brain messengers like serotonin or dopamine also could have a part to play in the development of eating disorders.

Another factor could be the glorification of "zero-figure" by the media. Even Western culture portrays unrealistic ideas of thinness through its movies and TV shows. Let me ask you this. How many times have you flipped through a fashion magazine or watched a TV show where the model or the actresses are wafer-thin, and caught yourself wishing for a figure like that? This notion of having a slim figure could put a lot of pressure on men or women to look a certain way and could ultimately drive them to develop unhealthy eating habits. Factors like stress, emotional turmoil, or isolation can also lead to eating disorders in many people.

Common eating disorders you should know about

Here is a list of some common eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa: People who are anorexic are constantly worried about weight gain even if they are dangerously underweight. They may limit their food intake or compensate for it through various purging behaviors.
  • Bulimia nervosa: People with bulimia are at a normal weight but have a constant fear of putting on weight.
  • Binge eating: People with binge eating disorders regularly eat huge amounts of food in a short period. However, they do not purge and may be overweight or obese.

Eating disorders and digestive complications

Eating disorders can harm your physical and mental health immensely. They can negatively affect almost every organ in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract. Repeated episodes of self-induced vomiting can lead to gastrointestinal reflux and swollen parotid glands.

The stomach acid can travel upwards and cause lesions along the esophagus. Binge eating can cause the stomach to be distended for longer periods and disrupt the normal movement of food in the digestive tract.

Celebrities who got real about these problems

Many celebrities have opened up about their struggle with eating disorders.

One of the most notable among them is the late Princess Diana who came forward and spoke about her issues with bulimia.

Singers like Demi Lavato and Lady Gaga too have publicly spoken about struggling with bulimia and anorexia from a very young age. Elton John, the famous singer-songwriter, even revealed undergoing treatment for bulimia.

Treating eating disorders

Once you have identified that you have an eating disorder issue, there are a number of ways on how to deal with the eating disorder-food addiction.

Some of them include:

  • To be most effective, treatment for anorexia and bulimia or even binge-eating must address both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem.
  • The treatment method must treat any nutritional/medical needs and promote a healthy relationship with food.
  • A team approach involving medical doctors, mental health professionals, and nutritionists is the best way to go forward. The participation and support of family members also make a big difference in the success of a severe eating disorder treatment.

Many people today with eating disorders are speaking up and seeking out help. Don't be indifferent towards this issue. A healthy body and a healthy mind are all it takes to live a happy life. Take control of your problem before it takes control of your life.

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Dr. Pramod Mane

A Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Pharmacology., currently based in Mumbai, India, Dr Pramod Mane, comes with an experience of more than 20 years of working in Medical Affairs in the Pharmaceuticals & Nutraceutical Industry. Director of Medical Services at Mega Lifesciences since 2008, Dr Mane has been associated with several MNCS in the areas of Medical Affairs, Medical Services, Medico-marketing, Pharmacovigilance & Clinical trials in his illustrious career.

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  1. Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery Available at Help guide 
  2. 15 Helpful Tips to Overcome Binge Eating Available at Healthline  
  3. 9 Celebrities with Eating Disorders Available at Healthline  
  4. How Eating Disorders Affect the Digestive System - MEDA Available at Medainc