When a person is suffering from eating disorders, they tend to think that their worth is measured by how they look. Body consciousness and feelings of dissatisfaction shaped by infomercials of models with almost unattainable bodies are what drive the inner voice that whispers that to be happy, one must lose weight.
Although it may seem impossible to escape from your eating disorder, recovery is only a reach away.
You don’t have to suffer from anorexia or bulimia anymore. The following tips should help you get treatment and handle negative feelings and regain your self-confidence. However, it first begins with you admitting that you have a problem.
But before we look at the 5 tips that will help you overcome your challenge, let’s look at the main types of eating disorders.
Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa is the commonest type of eating disorder. It affects more women than men and is developed during the teenage years.
People suffering from this eating disorder usually regard themselves as being overweight, even when they are dangerously below the optimum weight range.
They are obsessed with weighing themselves and constantly avoiding certain types of food to limit their calorie intake.
The condition is often characterized by obsessive-compulsive symptoms. For example, they may constantly think about food, hoard certain foods, fear eating in public, and may exhibit a strong desire to control their immediate environment. This limits their ability to be spontaneous.
People with anorexia include those who restrict themselves, and those who binge eat and purge. The first group loses weight by dieting, fasting, and doing too much exercise.
Those who binge eat and purge, however, may consume large amounts of food or eat too little. Thereafter, they purge the food through vomiting or taking laxatives, or also exercising obsessively.
The effects of anorexia can be damaging. Over time, it could lead to bone thinning, infertility, nails, and hair that are brittle among other damaging effects. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure and even death.
Like anorexia, bulimia nervosa also develops during the adolescent period. It is characterized by individuals who consume a lot of food in a specific period of time.
When such people binge eats, they do so until they become painfully full – and this is usually as a result of feeling like they cannot stop eating or control how much they consume.
This eating disorder can happen with any type of food, and to compensate for the calories consumed, the individuals, in this case, will purge to relieve the discomfort.
This is down through fasting, laxatives, vomiting, diuretics, and excessive exercises, to name a few.
Individuals with bulimia then attempt to purge to compensate for the calories consumed and relieve gut discomfort.
The side effects associated with bulimia include sore throat, acid reflux, tooth decay, severe dehydration, hormonal imbalance, gut irritation, and swollen salivary glands among others.
Severely, bulimia can distort the levels of electrolytes in someone’s body causing an imbalance that can lead to stroke or heart attack.
c) Binge eating
People with a binge eating disorder have similar symptoms to those of bulimia. They eat large amounts of food in a short period, and they cannot seemingly control it.
This category of people do not purge or control their caloric intake, and this usually leads to their becoming overweight and obese.
This increases their risk of developing other complications such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Pica, in a nutshell, involves the consumption of things that are not typically food. This includes things such as dirt, soil, wool, pebbles, cornstarch, soap, and paper, among others.
This eating disorder can occur in adults, children, and adolescents. It is, however, most commonly observed in children, expectant mothers, and people with mental disabilities.
The risks involved in this type of eating disorder include poisoning, gut injuries, infections, and malnutrition.
In rumination, an individual regurgitates the food they have eaten. They chew, swallow, regurgitate, re-chew it, and swallow or spit it out.
This rumination disorder occurs typically within the first 30 minutes after eating, and it is voluntary.
Rumination disorder can occur at any stage in life. In infants, it can develop between 3 and 12 months, and it often disappears on its own. The most common solution for this eating disorder is therapy.
If it is not resolved at a young age, it can lead to weight loss and severe cases of malnutrition. In adults, this disorder may make them restrict the amount of food they eat, especially in public places leading to their becoming underweight or losing weight significantly.
In addition to the above 5 eating disorders, there are others which include avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), purging disorder, and night eating syndrome. And other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED).
How to deal with these eating disorders varies from the severity of the condition, the type, and any underlying health issues.
However, one can generally avoid them by adhering to the following tips:
Tips for Managing Eating Disorders
i) Reach out for Support
Opening up about anorexia or bulimia may seem embarrassing and scary as it lets others know that you have an eating disorder. If it is any consolation, you are not letting the world know, but rather choosing to tell someone who understands and will support you without making a judgment.
This could be your friends or family. You could also join a support group where you will get to interact with people who have the same problem.
ii) Get Treatment
Seeking treatment for your eating disorder is the second step toward becoming an eating disorder champion. While there are many treatments for the condition, you should consider a combination of many that include individual, group, or family therapy, nutritional counseling, medical monitoring as well as residential treatment.
You shouldn’t forget, however, that you play a significant role in the effectiveness of the treatment by how you respond.
iii) Cope with Body Dissatisfaction Positively
The first response to uncomfortable feelings that victims of eating disorders resolve to include the refusal of food for comfort, purging to punish themselves, and bingeing to feel better.
Dealing with these feelings involves being aware of what it is that is bothering you. Are you eating or dieting because you are lonely, bored, stressed, or depressed?
Deal with the problems positively by exercising, visiting friends, playing games, reading, etc.
iv) Eat Healthily
It is understandable if you can’t control yourself with food. However, you should ensure that you are doing it appropriately. Do not diet or follow strict eating rules.
Do not deny yourself healthy food because of fear of harm to your body. Also, do not skip meals. Learn to understand what your body wants and never starve when you are hungry.
v) Love Yourself
Never base your self-worth on how you look and ignore all other traits that make you beautiful. Understand that you are unique and loved by all your friends and family.
If you focus on how you look, your self-esteem will be greatly lowered not to mention the feelings of insecurity. Focus on what you like, stay away from the scale, treat your body the best way possible, and forever stay active.
Never allow yourself to be a victim of an eating disorder when you can easily stay in control and see that you lead a beautiful life. Stay away from the scale and the mirror. Be confident, eat well and love yourself for who you are. Nobody else will do it for you if you do not take that first step toward becoming a champion.