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Eating Disorders

8 Sep

In the land of plenty sometimes we choose to starve to fit society’s perception of beauty. Being fat is not a nice place to be and most people become fat because they over-eat and do not exercise. This is not reason to treat yourself unkind. There are ways to reduce and maintain a healthy weight.  Some experts now believe that eating disorders are more than just fear of food or fear of fat.  It is a mental illness.

A person with this disorder may be completely convinced that she is overweight despite what the scale shows or what other people say. To achieve or maintain leanness, she may exercise obsessively or use laxatives. Because a super-restrictive diet requires exquisite control, she may become quite careful, inhibited and controlled in other areas of life.

The term anorexia means having a lack of appetite, but people with this disorder usually suppress their appetite or even a craving for food that they actively suppress. They diet to the point of starvation. The disorder is defined not by whether a person feels hunger but by how much weight he or she has lost. The problem usually begins in adolescence. Anorexia nervosa affects about 1 in 100 to 200 girls or women in the United States. The cause of anorexia nervosa is not clear. It is likely a combination of genetic (inherited) and environmental factors.

Sometimes a life event linked to normal development, such as moving away from home, triggers the illness.

Environmental pressures – Cultural influences, including images from television and film and pressure from peers, leave the impression that thin is best.  People with the disorder describe a feeling of power and control over others through their dieting. In advanced stages of the illness, the dieting is hard to reverse. At that point, hunger may disappear completely and the pursuit of thinness becomes a way of life. Starvation causes medical complications of its own, such as thyroid problems, anemia and joint pains. Extreme dieting can lead to death in the most severe cases, most commonly because of an irregular heartbeat caused by an imbalance of the salts in the bloodstream. There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa, a restricting type and a binging/purging type. A person with the restricting type of anorexia diets, fasts and exercises. People with the binging/purging type eat large quantities of food, then vomit. Many people go back and forth between these two patterns.

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