Eating Disorders

eating disorder anorexia

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders refer to a group of complex diseases where a person either eats massive quantities of food or does not eat at all. It may range from craving for food at odd hours of the day (or night) to complete avoidance of food during the normal meal timings. All types of eating disorders are somewhat related to an unusual obsession with food or about one’s body weight. Two main biological factors (triggers) are responsible for these syndromes. These are sleep and huger. Disturbance of the homeostatic system and the circadian rhythm aggravate the symptoms. The patients develop unusual eating patterns such as an excessive urge to have more carbohydrate, starch, and sugary foods. These eating disorders do not cause any immediate impact on health. But at some point in time, they may generate some serious systemic response.

 

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders girlThe contributing factors of eating disorders are as follows-

  • Depression over a long period of time
  • Loneliness
  • Physical or emotional stress (trauma)
  • Low self-esteem (food acts as a mood lifter for these people)
  • An unusual emotional response in some people
  • Imbalance in dopamine and serotonin levels
  • Functional abnormalities of the Ventromedial nuclei (cause people to eat more)
  • Malfunctioning of the Lateral Hypothalamus (cause people to eat less or not eat at all)
  • Genetic defects (mutations in the melanocortin 4 receptor gene)
  • Starvation for a long period of time
  • Disruption of the internal body clock (affects dietary pattern)
  • Anxiety or nervousness (food acts as a pacifier)
  • A trend of eating disorders in the family

 

What are the signs of eating disorders?

The main identifiable signs of eating disorders are as follows-

  • Having food at odd hours
  • A tendency to have food after a meal
  • An intense urge to have massive quantities of food even if the stomach is full
  • Feeling hungry even after a full meal
  • An intense desire to have food rich in carbohydrate, starch and sugar
  • A complex about one’s body weight, size and shape
  • Abnormal weight loss or gain
  • A very poor or an abnormally high appetite
  • Feeling of guilt or shame while having food
  • Starving oneself more often

 

What are the different types of eating disorders?

Eating disorders are broadly classified into two types-

  • Excessive eating
  • Starving

 

Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is an abnormal mental condition wherein the patients eat huge quantities of food within very short intervals of time. In this disease, the patients lack self-control and eat uncontrollably even in the absence of biological hunger.

What are the features of binge eating disorder?

  • Episodes of overeating: The patient eats massive quantities of food within very short intervals of time. They completely lose self-control and cannot resist the urge of having food during those periods.
  • Eating pattern: These people exhibit abnormal eating behaviour like eating in the absence of “actual” hunger, eating uncontrollably even when they are full and eating very quickly.
  • Feelings: The patients often feel guilty or ashamed of the amount of food they are having. Binge eating disorder is closely associated with monotony, stress and annoyance.
  • Habits: Since these people feel guilty about their eating habits, they develop secretive behaviours. They prefer eating when nobody is around.

What are the warning signs?

  • Obsession over body weight, shape, and image
  • Constant feeling of bloating and constipation
  • Feeling stressed and guilty after a binge eating episode
  • Hypersensitivity to comments regarding eating habits, body shape, and size
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Self-abrasive behaviour
  • Intolerance (episodic) towards food

 

Bulimia nervosa

eating disorder anorexiaBulimia nervosa is a psychological illness characterised by episodes of overeating followed by compensatory activities. Compensatory activities denote the different means of ejecting the food such as vomiting and defecation.

Bulimia nervosa has the following features-

  • Binge eating: The patients exhibit episodes of binge eating where they consume huge quantities of food uncontrollably and within very short intervals.
  • Compensatory behaviour: After an episode of binge eating, the patients tend to get rid of the consumed food by vomiting, using laxatives and diuretics.
  • Body shape obsession: The patients grow a complex regarding their body shape. This reduces their confidence and self-worth.

Subtypes

Following are the types of bulimia nervosa-

  • Purging type: In this type, the patients try to expel the ingested food via vomiting.
  • Non-purging type: Here, the patients tend to compensate for overeating by rigorous physical exercise.

 

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder where the patient tries to lose weight through the complete absence of eating. The patients lose appetite completely in this condition.

Following are the main features of the disease-

  • Abnormal weight loss (about 85% less than normal)
  • A fear of gaining weight
  • Preoccupation with body image

 

Diagnosis

The following tests are necessary for the proper diagnosis of eating disorders-

  • CT scan of the brain (to check the levels of serotonin and dopamine)
  • Blood test
  • Urine test

 

Treatment and Prevention

Eating disorders typesTherapy and specialized diet that help in weight gain can help in treating anorexia nervosa.  The treatment also focuses on reducing the adverse effects of the unhealthy weight loss on vital organs. There is customized therapy for anorexic patients called as MANTRA (Maudsley Anorexia Nervosa Treatment for Adults) and it usually comprises of 20 sessions. Other forms of therapy include SSCM and Focal Psychodynamic Therapy. Treatment for adult anorexics differs from that of anorexia patients below the age of 18.  While there are a lot of factors that make a person more susceptible to eating disorders such as genetics and history of trauma, there are a few psychological changes that a person can bring to decrease the likelihood of developing unhealthy eating patterns:

  • Stop relating body type or shape with happiness and achievement. Be extremely cautious of what the popular media permeates as the idea of the “perfect body”.
  • Consume a well-balanced diet. Remember your body needs fats and other essential nutrients to function effectively.
  • If a person has experienced trauma, abuse, or severe depression, it would be wise to seek professional psychiatric help.
  • Be aware of the tell-tale signs of someone suffering from an eating disorder and don’t delay the treatment.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Make sure that the underlying mental condition that is causing the eating disorder is diagnosed and treated.
  • Understand that eating disorders don’t vanish overnight. It takes a lot of time for these to resolve.
  • It is important to provide emotional support and empathy to an individual. This will aid in the faster treatment of the condition.
Don'ts
  • Ignore the symptoms of the eating disorders and assume they will go away with time.
  • Talk about things that could perpetuate the idea of negative body image and lower the self-esteem of the individual.
  • Force an anorexic person to eat. Similarly, don’t forcefully try to starve a bulimic.

 

 

 

 

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Hydroxycut: How safe are these so-called weight loss supplements? Hydroxycut is a blend of several different ingredients formulated to promote weight loss; powered by a key weight…
top 10 deadliest diseases
What are the top 10 deadliest diseases and what is causing them? What are the largest killers of human lives across the globe? Which diseases are the most fatal ones?…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Fibromyalgia fatigue
HCG Diet: The dangers of using this diet to lose weight HCG is a natural hormone produced by both men and women that corresponds to fertility. But how is…
EMG electromyography
EMG- Electromyography EMG detects the presence, location, and extent of diseases that damage the nerves such motor neuron disease. Electromyography…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
HSV-IgM test
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-IgM Test The HSV-IgM class antibody is produced by the body a few days after an initial HSV infection and…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
Turner syndrome and infertility
Infertility profile (women) The infertility profile tests in women are conducted to form a complete picture of the hormonal balance and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
complement c4 test
Complement 4 (C4) Test The Complement 4 or C4 test measures the level of the protein in the bloodstream, and is primarily…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Bronchoscopy procedure
Bronchoscopy Bronchoscopy is a procedure where in a scope is inserted into the lung pathway to observe any growth…
Keto diet healthy
Keto Diet: Did you know you could eat fats to burn fats? Keto diet - A wonder diet that lets you eat fats and lose weight too! Read on to…
green poop causes
Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it Ever sneak a peek down the toilet only to shockingly find green poop? Why does our poop turn…
Echocardiogram
Echocardiography – ECHO Echocardiography (commonly known as ECHO) is an imaging modality (similar to ultrasonography) used to visualize the interior of…
creatinine
Creatinine Test The level of creatinine in the blood is a significant indicator of the health of your kidneys. This…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
Proteinuria and blood pressure
Hypertension Profile Hypertension profile is a panel of blood tests done to analyse the cause of hypertension or high blood…
Crossfit with rope
CrossFit: Now get the perfectly sculpted body with this explosive gym routine CrossFit is a fitness regimen that makes use of high-intensity exercises in a shorter period to achieve muscle…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
free thyroxine ft4
Free thyroxine test (FT4) The FT4 or free thyroxine test is used to detect the level of free thyroxine of FT4 thyroid…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
understanding addiction
Addiction explained: An obsession that could cost you your life Is addiction a behavioral disorder? Or is it a chronic disease? How does addiction cause chemical and structural…
amylase test
Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
cytomegalovirus igm test
Cytomegalo Virus (CMV) – IgM Test The CMV antibodies include both IgM and IgG antibodies which are the immune system's response to a CMV…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgG Test The cardiolipin antibody IgG are responsible for the abnormal formation of clots in veins and arteries or phlebitis…
lipoprotein A
Lipoprotein (A) Test Lipoprotein (A) test is used to measure and monitor the levels of LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) in the bloodstream in…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
Anti-Inflammatory foods: 18 foods to a disease-free you Anti-inflammatory foods are the foods which are known to reduce the inflammation as well as the pain from…

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