What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders (ED) usually begin during adolescence as is the time of most vulnerability due to your changes. According to the Association against Anorexia and Bulimia (ACAB), it is estimated that up to 5% of the adolescent female population suffers from some type of eating disorder and that 11% more are at risk, but according to experts there are more and more boys that are also affected.
Eating Disorders (Eating Disorders)) are serious psychological disorders that lead to alterations in eating behavior. The affected person shows a strong concern in relation to weight, body image and diet, among others. Due to these dietary alterations, can trigger major physical illnesses and / or psychosocial functioning and, in extreme cases, can lead to death (the most frequent causes being malnutrition or suicide).
The most common eating disorders They are: anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. They are complex and multi-causal diseases that start from a common pattern, in which the patient carries out altered eating patterns due to concern for their external image.
How to detect an eating disorder?
It can be difficult to detect an eating disorder, but there are some signs that can alert us to the presence of an eating disorder. It is important to comment that these are not diagnostic criteria that confirm the disease, since to ensure the diagnosis the person must be evaluated by a mental health professional.
If we suspect that a person in our area or a family member may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is advisable to consult with professionals.
Signs to detect an eating disorder
- Feeding: We can suspect the presence of an eating disorder when we see that a person begins to obsess over restrictive diets, constantly worry about eating, constantly count calories, etc. It is also common for these people to prefer not to eat in company and habitually present feelings of guilt for having eaten. In some cases they may have strange behavior, get up from the table and lock themselves in the bathroom after eating.
- The perception of body image: People with ED suffer from a misperception of being obese and may try to hide their body by wearing loose clothing that covers most of their body.
- The menstrual cycle: Another suspicion may be when the person suffers from a lack of menstruation or habitual delays. When on a high calorie restriction diet, this can affect menstruation.
- Weight loss: unjustifiably, the constant concern about gaining weight or the use of laxatives are another of the signs that we can identify. Sometimes people with eating disorders also practice self-induced vomiting or fasting with the goal of losing weight.
- To practice physical exercise in excess as a way to lose weight and obsess over it can be another red flag.
- Behavior and attitude they must also be monitored. People with ED may suffer from depression, mood swings, and have a tendency to want to be isolated from their friends, family, etc.
If we detect any of these symptoms, it does not mean that the person suffers from ED, but if we detect several of them, we can consider it a warning sign. The important thing is to detect the problem as soon as possible and when in doubt, consult a doctor.
Anorexia: what is it and symptoms
It is characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with eating, extreme fear of gaining weight, and excess weight control. It is underweight and in women it can cause loss of menstruation, among others. In most cases, these people feel the desire to continue losing weight, even if they are below what is considered normal for their height and height, due to the alteration in perception, self-evaluation and body recognition and the severity that it entails.
We refer to Restrictive anorexia when the person develops behavioral strategies aimed at restricting food (generally accompanied by the abuse of physical activity), while in the Purgative anorexia binge-eating the person uses vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics to achieve weight reduction.
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa They are: extreme concern and dissatisfaction with the figure, diet and weight, distorted perception of body image, significant weight loss in a short time, following a persistent diet, even if the person is already very thin, a progressive dietary restriction, change in eating habits, purchase and consumption of weight loss products, menstrual disorders, strange rituals with food (for example: chopping food), excessive physical exercise, obsessive interest in food such as calculating calories energy from food, throwing, eating or lying about meals, restlessness, mood swings, isolation and sadness, physical alterations derived from severe malnutrition: bone decalcification, heart problems, constant feeling of cold, constipation, hair loss, etc. .
Bulimia Nervous: what it is and symptoms
The defining characteristic of Bulimia is the presence of binge eating. A binge is considered to be the ingestion of a large amount of food, in a very short period of time, accompanied by a significant feeling of loss of control. After each episode of overeating, the person is assaulted by an intense feeling of guilt that, together with the fear of gaining weight, precipitates compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, food restriction, compulsive exercise and the use of laxatives and / or diuretics. Through these behaviors, it is possible to maintain weight, which makes it difficult for the family, teachers and health professionals to detect it.
Symptoms of bulimia nervosa They are: eating in secret, having unjustified overspending (buying food secretly), going to the bathroom immediately after meals or very frequently, having frequent mood swings and altered mood, depressive symptoms, derogatory comments about the body itself, having sudden weight changes, irregular menstruation and possible loss of teeth.
Binge eating disorder: what is it and symptoms
Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes, but, unlike bulimia, there are no compensatory behaviors. It can occur both in people with normal weight and in overweight or obesity. But, in the absence of compensatory behaviors, on many occasions there is an increase in weight. On the other hand, in very serious cases, a hospital admission is required to adequately control eating behavior.
The symptoms of binge eating disorder are: Problems of adaptation to the social role, deterioration of the quality of life related to health and personal dissatisfaction, substance use disorders, depressive and anxiety disorders, weight gain and obesity.
Causes of the appearance of eating disorders:
1. Body changes they influence the individual in a particular way depending on their basic personality, affecting their self-image and identity. The most associated personality factors are perfectionism and low self-esteem.
2. Beauty models Established people, such as thinness, exert powerful pressure through the media, the world of music and fashion. Implicitly, the message is transmitted of what is desirable and what is not, that "creeps in" in vulnerable people (childhood obesity, low self-esteem, perfectionism or self-demand).
3. Previous emotional disorders: they can be expressed in the form of an eating disorder (sexual abuse, abuse, depression, family conflict).
4. Genetics: Twin concordance, genetic vulnerability. The predisposition is inherited. Out of every 100 twins with ED, 65% of their twins also have it.
5. Certain professions or sports: ballerinas or dancers, models, etc.
Tips to prevent an eating disorder
1. Eat at least one meal a day as a family (communicative environment, divert attention, detach negative emotions).
2. Prevent childhood obesity.
3. Promote healthy lifestyle habits.
4. Cultivate a correct self-esteem.
5. Educate a critical sense towards models of beauty.
6. Educate a critical sense towards harmful content on the internet.
7. Promote sources of personal gratification away from image worship.
8. Encourage the cultivation of quality personal relationships.
To achieve recuperación, multidisciplinary treatment is necessary: psychological, nutritional and medical. It is essential to know in depth the operation of the disorder in the life of each individual and their environment, what factors are maintaining the problem and what is the specific path of each person to achieve full autonomy.
From myHealthWatcher we always recommend putting yourself in the hands of experts to deal with issues as important and sensitive as those mentioned.