Eating disorders are the mental disorders which are marked by an obsession with food or body shape. Against the usual belief that eating disorders result in a person not eating anything in order to stay thin, binge eating is also a type of eating disorder.
Eating disorders, just like any other mental condition have severe stimuli behind them. Sometimes, they might be genetic, sometimes it is a person’s personality trait, sometimes it is the lifestyle and in many cases it is the socio-cultural scenario which force people to take up such unhealthy eating habits which gradually develop into eating disorders.
Some of the commonest eating disorders are listed below:
The commonest of the eating disorders. People suffering from this tend to see themselves as overweight even when they are dangerously underweight. This results in continuous weight monitoring and hence drastic decrease in the food intake. The major symptoms include:
- Being considerably underweight as compared to people having the same age, demographics and physical characteristics
- Constant endeavour to lose weight and inches from the body
- A strong relation between the self esteem and the weight of the person concerned
- A distorted body image- thinking oneself as too overweight while being underweight actually
- Some might also experience difficulty in eating publically in front of people
People with Bulimia tend to overeat to the extent of being painfully full and uneasy. Such people, do not seem to express any control over the portion size while eating, they just eat till the point of collapse. This act gets followed by the act of purging whereby the said person forces out vomiting or uses laxatives or exercises heavily in order to purge. The major symptoms of Bulimia include:
- Recurring binge eating sprees
- Continual attempts at forced purging after the meals
- A low self esteem because of negative view about one’s body shape and weight
- The constant fear of gaining weight
- Side effects such as sore throat, swollen salivary glands, tooth decay, acid reflux, gut irritation, IBS, hormonal imbalances, electrolyte imbalance resulting in palpitation and in extreme cases heart attack too.
Recently added to the eating disorders’ list, pica is related to binge eating of non food substances such as ice, dirt, soap, paper, hair, cloth, detergents etc. It can affect both the children and adults but is more commonly found in pregnant women, adolescents and people with mental disabilities. The risk that this disorder holds is in form of poisoning, infections and gut injuries.
Rumination disorder involves the compulsive habit of re-chewing the already chewed food. While fairly common in infants since they are in the process of adjusting to eat solid food, if found in adults, it is treated as a mental disorder. The important point to be noted is that such a habit in infants needs to be checked so that it does not become a usual personality trait upon growing. While as an infant, this habit might be involuntary, as an adult it grows into our subconscious and becomes fairly involuntary
Needless to say, such an act of chewing becomes a social embarrassment and might result in people losing their appetite and becoming extremely underweight.