Eating Disorder ‘A Behavioral Problem’- Know the Causes and Symptoms

A healthy balanced diet is the only mantra to have a healthy body. Jumbling with your eating pattern and behavior can cost you your good health or may be life. To support a healthy life, a body must be devoid of any physical or mental health problems. Our eating habits has a reversible reaction with overall health of a body (physical and mental). Eating disorder is known to be one of the signs of serious mental illness that need immediate professional help. It is commonly found in adolescence and young adults.

According to research with the recent pandemic, the stress of COVID-19 has significantly increased the eating disorder in some countries. It can adversely affect various body parts and may also cause death.

Understanding normal eating and eating disorders

Normal or healthy eating is a behavior when you eat mindfully but do not restrict yourself from foods that you enjoy.

Eating disorder is generally linked to mental health problems such as anxiety disorder, unwanted thoughts of fear causing repetitive behaviors, and alcohol or drug abuse. All these factors hugely impact the eating behavior affecting a person physically and psychologically. The inability of a body to meet daily nutrient can cause serious health conditions

What causes eating disorders?

What exactly causes eating disorder is not known. Apart from mental illness genetics and psychological & emotional conditions may cause eating disorders. Certain conditions such as family history, stress, dieting, etc can increase the risk of developing eating disorder.

Common types of eating disorders and its symptoms

It is not easy to find the symptoms of eating disorders and many a times even the person with eating disorder does not realize what he/she is going through.

Anorexia nervosa

A person avoids eating and this leads to low body mass index (BMI), usually below 18.5. In medical term it is known as anorexia nervosa (has high mortality rate), is a serious condition. The person does not eat anything due to a fear of weight gain or putting on fats. Also, he/she may try methods such as throw out the eaten foods by vomiting, or try excessive physical workout to burn calories.

A person with anorexia nervosa will try the following two methods to prevent weight gain –

  • Will be on strict diet, fasting or do excessive workout
  • Is into binge eating and/or gets rid of foods consumed

These two behaviors related to anorexia nervosa may cause symptoms such as –

  • Dehydration
  • Intolerance to cold
  • Weakness in muscles
  • Digestive problems due to constipation, bloating
  • Mental health problems such as anxiety, irritability, depression, poor concentration

Bulimia nervosa

A person eats large amount of food in a short span of time and compensates it by practicing various behaviors to prevent weight gain. As a result, such people may have normal weight or overweight or may be obese.

A person loses control over food leading to feeling sick and discomfort. Signs and symptoms of such eating disorder may include –

  • Sore throat for long time
  • Frequent need of washroom after meals
  • Misuse of laxatives
  • Misuse of medicines that increases urine output
  • Intake of diet pills
  • Purging behavior may cause dehydration and dizziness
eating disorder

Binge eating disorder

It is one of the most common eating disorders. A person loses control on how much to eat and end up eating to the level of discomfort. It resembles bulimia nervosa but differs by avoiding compensatory behaviors. As a result, such people are usually overweight or obese.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder-

  • Consuming large amount of food within certain time interval
  • Eating fast
  • Eating foods even when you are not hungry
  • You keep eating until you feel discomfort
  • Out of embarrassment and guilt a person eats alone
  • Undergoing diet plans with unsuccessful weight loss

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (AFRID)

It is commonly found in childhood when children eat selective foods. Hence, the body is not able to meet the required calories for proper growth and development. Such eating disorder in adults affects the basic body function, as a person fails to meet minimum daily nutrition.

Symptoms of such eating disorder include –

  • Significant weight loss
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Not able to eat with others

To wind up –

Seek help immediately the moment you suspect eating disorder. Eating disorder is a medical condition which is difficult to manage on your own. You need to consult your healthcare provider, a dietician or a nutritionist, a psychotherapist to recover from eating disorder.

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