Food is a necessity in our lives. It gives us energy and nourishes our bodies. But sometimes, what is supposed to provide us with vitality takes it away. People with eating disorders use food as a crutch for dealing with negative or overwhelming emotions until their relationship with it becomes unhealthy.
An eating disorder is a mental health condition in which a person uses food or develops harmful eating habits to help them deal with their emotions. Eating disorders can be serious and life-threatening. They affect as much as 9% of the global population, with women, adolescents, and LGBTQ people being the most susceptible.
While many people associate eating disorders with being underweight, only 6% of all sufferers are classified as underweight.
Eating disorders (ED) come in many forms. While it’s common to believe that people suffering from EDs restrict the amount of food they eat, this is not always the case.
Restricting food, constantly worrying about your body weight, binging, emotional eating, devouring food to the point where you feel sick or vomit, taking laxatives or vomiting on purpose, overexercising as a punishment for eating, and eliminating entire food groups without any medical justification are also classified as eating disorders.
Eating disorders can cause malnourishment, problems with the stomach and digestive tract, and in severe cases, can lead to suicide and other types of self-harm. In this article, we will take you through the most common eating disorders and share ideas about how to find help if you or someone you know is suffering from an ED.
Period Tracker & Calendar
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
What are the most common eating disorders?
Anorexia nervosa is a well-known eating disorder that affects thousands of people worldwide. A person suffering from anorexia nervosa usually restricts their food intake, fasts often, and overexercises or tries to eliminate consumed food in other ways such as constantly taking laxatives and diuretics or vomiting. They tend to be thinner than other people their age, lack energy, and generally look ill.
People with anorexia nervosa see themselves as too fat, no matter how underweight they are. They use food and exercise to punish and control themselves. Such people also tend to possess other traits such as an inability to eat in public and control the world around them by monitoring the food that enters their bodies.
People who suffer from bulimia nervosa are also very conscious about their calory intake, but unlike anorexia nervosa, bulimic people tend to maintain normal body weight. The disorder manifests in periods of binge eating followed by some method of purging such as forced vomiting, taking laxatives, using enemas, or excessive exercising.
Bulimic people tend to overeat to the point where the stomach can’t digest all the food, and the person begins to feel sick. Usually, they binge on foods they would otherwise restrict.
Although the first two disorders may be better known, emotional eating is believed to be the most common disorder. This is a condition where a person who feels emotionally overwhelmed deals with their negative emotions through food. Usually, a person who suffers from emotional eating will eat a large amount of food in a brief period of time. Unlike those with bulimia or anorexia, emotional eaters don’t purge the food they consume. However, such a person might feel guilt, shame, and other negative emotions after binging.
Emotional eaters are more likely to be overweight and use food as a comfort or reward when they are sad, stressed, or dealing with other overpowering emotions.
Rumination disorder is a condition where a person eats and regurgitates their stomach contents after some time (usually around 30 minutes). Although the regurgitation is often voluntary for sufferers of rumination disorder, other conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gastroparesis, can cause a person to regurgitate involuntarily. When rumination happens, the food in the stomach isn’t digested. A person might re-swallow it or spit it out. Either way, this disorder can cause malnourishment, low weight, and digestive tract issues.
What causes eating disorders?
There’s no single reason some people develop eating disorders. Usually, multiple factors interact to cause a person to develop an unhealthy relationship with food and have a poor body image.
Some of the most common reasons include:
genetics—people whose parents suffered from eating disorders are more likely to suffer too
mental illness—an eating disorder is a mental condition, but it often accompanies other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic disorder
societal pressure—when a person grows up in an environment where only certain body types were accepted and praised and where food is associated with guilt, they are more likely to develop toxic eating habits
poor body image—if a person was criticised and bullied about their weight and body, they are likely to have a poor body image, try to change their weight, or strive for unrealistic beauty standards
What are the signs that you or someone else has an ED?
It can be challenging to recognise when someone has an eating disorder because they often maintain a normal weight and look healthy. You can also be suffering from an eating disorder yourself without knowing it. While each case is different, certain tell-tale behaviours indicate a risk of an eating disorder.
not eating in front of others
obsessive calory counting
purging after eating
feeling guilty or ashamed after eating (restricted) food
complaining and worrying about your body shape and weight
going to the bathroom a lot right after eating
significant loss of weight
changes in mood, other mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.)
overeating, eating large amounts of food quickly
trying to control how your body looks
overexercising, or using exercise as a punishment for overeating or as an excuse to eat more
The dangers of eating disorders
Eating disorders are the second most dangerous mental illness. Only opioid overdose has higher fatality rates than ED. People who suffer from EDs are more likely to develop dangerous physical illnesses, harm themselves, or even commit suicide. Other hazards of eating disorders include:
inflamed throat, swollen salivary glands, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, acid reflux, gut irritation, and dehydration if a person purges by vomiting or taking laxatives
If left untreated, some of these disorders can lead to fatal malnourishment, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other deadly consequences.
What can you do to heal from an eating disorder?
Each eating disorder is different, and so are the treatments. However, most EDs have psychological roots. If you suspect you have an eating disorder or someone you know does, seek help immediately. The first thing to do is to make sure the person’s vital functions aren’t being affected. If they are, a healthcare provider will have to ensure the proper medical treatment to restore mineral and vitamin levels.
The second and very crucial step is therapy. Whether you choose individual or group therapy, it’s crucial to analyse the root cause behind toxic eating habits and distorted body image. Therapy can help you regain inner peace and develop healthier coping methods. As with any other mental illness, it takes time to heal from an eating disorder. Sometimes it can take a lifetime. Learning ways to manage your emotions and develop healthy eating habits are the way forward to a happier, healthier life.
You can track your period using WomanLog. Download WomanLog now:
Vision is one of the primary senses humans use to interact with and learn about the world. It is also the main tool used in most jobs worldwide. In addition, our lives increasingly happen through digital screens, creating an even higher risk of overworking the eyes.
You may have experienced heartburn after eating or at other times during the day. Despite their menacing names, heartburn and acid reflux are common (yes, there is a slight difference between the two), and are not considered disorders on their own. They do, however, cause discomfort and can indicate a more serious problem if the sensation lingers for too long or occurs too often.
If you ask someone what migraine is, chances are they will tell you it’s a kind of severe headache. While partially true, this is an oversimplification. In this article, we explore the stages, symptoms, and myths associated with migraine, and discuss various coping strategies that help mitigate symptoms.
Almost no one would refuse a relaxing massage after a long day’s work. Massages can be therapeutic, a medical necessity, part of an athletic training routine, or even a spiritual journey. Regardless, massage is a great way to take care of your body.
Many of us dream of having perfect curls—including people with naturally curly hair. This hair type is misunderstood surprisingly often and having a head of full of healthy and attractive curly, wavy, or kinky-coily hair remains a difficult but not impossible goal.
Millions of women worldwide struggle with hair loss. Human hair growth passes through four stages. At the end, a hair is shed, and a new hair begins to grow from the follicle. However, a stressful lifestyle, poor diet, hormonal imbalances, and certain illnesses can cause excessive hair loss and pattern baldness in women.
Acne is a widespread skin condition, well known as a teenage issue, although it also affects adults. It can be tempting to cover it up (with makeup or otherwise), but this is, at best, a temporary solution and is more likely to make things worse.
Procrastination, forgetfulness, irritability, and anxiety are all normal parts of human life. For people with ADHD, however, these are some of the more common challenges they face every day. For them it is nearly impossible to “get it together” and “stop being lazy”. Even the simplest tasks can require excessive effort, which is hard to understand if you don’t have ADHD. Women especially have trouble getting diagnosed and treated for ADHD.
Millions of people across the globe use antidepressants to cope with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Although not a cure, the right antidepressant can be incredibly helpful with treating symptoms.
Hormones are responsible for myriad bodily functions, and they affect our bodies in myriad ways, including our mood. Since the menstrual cycle features so many different hormonal processes, most women experience related emotional symptoms.
Millions of people take prescription and illicit drugs for medical or recreational reasons. When such substances are taken without precaution, they can develop into an addiction. Drug addiction is dangerous to the affected person and the people close to them.
Preventative testing is a powerful tool in the battle against conditions that worsen over time. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the preventative measures you can take to tackle HPV-related cancers.
It won’t come as a surprise when I tell you that smoking is unhealthy. Even so, many people still smoke regularly. Even those who consider themselves to be non-smokers, occasionally smoke when out with friends for a drink.
Many of us only truly learn to love ourselves and our bodies fairly late in life. Prior to that, we tend to spend time and energy judging ourselves about things we cannot change. Self-love is a skill made difficult to attain by the very impractical beauty standards that are popular today.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD in the world: there is a very good chance that you will get at least one type of HPV during your lifetime. Preventative measures include practicing good hygiene and safe sex, getting tested regularly, and getting vaccinated, the last of which we focus on in this article.
We all have days when we don’t feel fully at home in our bodies. Societal beauty standards, pressure from the media, and advertisements from the fitness and beauty industries can all work against our self-confidence at times. The most intense manifestation of negative body perception is called Body Dysmorphic Disorder, or BDD. No matter how we feel about our bodies, we can improve that relationship. It is possible to recover from BDD.
A clenched jaw is an unfortunate side-effect of a stressful life. You may be overworking your jaw if you grind your teeth at night, eat too many hard foods, or have a bad posture! If left untreated, these symptoms can lead to chronic issues known as TMJ disorders.
Many of us enjoy the occasional drink. Alcohol consumption has played a central role in almost all human cultures since at least about 4000 BC. The development of agrarian societies was based on the cultivation of grain to make bread and, the evidence tells us, to make alcohol. From the earliest recorded use of alcohol, drinking has been a social activity subject to local cultural norms.
A new member of the coronavirus family was first identified in December 2019. Over the past several months this new or novel coronavirus has spread around the world causing a global pandemic. This virus, COVID-19, is very contagious and causes mild to severe flu-like symptoms, especially affecting the respiratory organs and heart. Almost two million people have been infected worldwide and more than 100, 000 have died.
Going green is important for the health and safety of our own bodies, as well as the safety of our planet. Making green choices and reducing your environmental footprint can start with your feminine hygiene routine.
Sweating is a natural bodily function—all of us sweat regardless of age, gender, or intensity of physical activity. Sometimes we notice changes in how much we sweat or how our sweat smells. There are reasons for these changes.
The human body is naturally covered in hair and still we have a long history of going to great lengths to remove it. Contrary to some beliefs, body hair removal serves a purely aesthetic purpose. This makes the choice to leave it there or get rid of it up to you.
The choice of dietary supplements available in any given drugstore, let alone online, is vast. They promise to provide us with vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients in the form of pills, drops, capsules, and powders. Some of these can be truly useful while others are merely money-making fads for their producers, and some can even be quite harmful if used recklessly or purchased from an unreliable seller.
Any abusive relationship, be it with a parent, sibling, or romantic partner, leaves scars. Moving forward with your life can be daunting enough, let alone building the foundations for a new healthy relationship.
Pain is a universal human experience, but it is also highly individual. It can be hard to evaluate the exact cause of pain, but it is always a signal that something potentially dangerous is happening to your body.
If there is does not happen to be a toilet nearby, there is nothing dangerous about holding your pee for a while. It happens to everyone, and the unpleasant feeling will be forgotten as soon as you finally have the opportunity to relieve yourself.
Going to the gynaecologist can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time or if you have had a previous negative experience. Fear not! Reproductive health is an important aspect of your health, and you are in control of who you choose as your doctor and what happens at the appointment.
Where do children come from? All parents eventually get this question. There are many different ways to explain the complicated process of forming of a new life to a child, but our answer is a short and precise—children come from the uterus.
Tattoos are not a new invention, many cultures have a long history of using tattoos in their religious and symbolic practices, or purely for aesthetic reasons. Tattoos were reintroduced into popular Western culture in the 20th century. Artists such as Lyle Tuttle, Cliff Raven, and Don Nolan were some of the people who influenced the re-emergence of tattoos.
The philosopher’s stone, the elixir of immortality, the universal panaceas, the fountain of youth—these are all legends about the secret to extreme longevity. People have been thinking about eternal youth as long as there have been people. Slowing the signs of ageing with anti-ageing treatments is one way to postpone the inevitable changes. However, such procedures can only influence visible processes and have minimal to no impact on our overall longevity. Yet many people spend a great deal of money to look young for as long as possible. In this article, we will discuss anti-ageing treatments and how to care for ageing skin.
Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition caused by the presence of endometrial cells outside the uterus. It is known to be a leading cause of infertility in women. There is no known cure, but there are plenty of treatment options for combating symptoms.
This is a question a lot of us have been asking ourselves lately. Sometimes it is unavoidable, in certain situations completely understandable, but being tired should not be a constant state. Being “always tired” is often normalized and even romanticized to an extreme in our society, but it is actually very dangerous. Excessive tiredness is always a sign from your body that something might be off. Let’s look at the most common explanations behind constantly feeling tired and some possible solutions.
Beautiful, well-cared-for nails are aesthetically pleasing and also indicate good general health. When the body lacks essential nutrients, the first indicators often appear in our hair and nails. While the way we groom our hands and feet can be a way of expressing personality, our nails have other functions, too.
Humans have an innate need for social interactions, including physical touch. Touch is vital for a person’s wellbeing. As the Covid-19 pandemic mandates social distancing, many of us are left touch starved. What are the consequences, and is it possible to compensate for this deficit?
Throughout a woman’s lifetime, her body goes through many changes. Menopause is a significant transformation, marking the end of a woman’s reproductive life. This transition isn’t necessarily an easy one. It can go on for many years, and many women experience symptoms that disrupt their lives. Hormone replacement therapy is one way to reduce the impact of the most challenging symptoms. In this article, we will discuss the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy.
Vaginal mycoses, or vaginal yeast infection (also called candidal vulvovaginitis, vaginal thrush, or candidiasis) is extremely common. Mycoses is found in about 20% of vaginal secretions tested in laboratories. The pain and discomfort caused by this condition often requires immediate medical attention.
Urinary incontinence affects 200 million people worldwide. People who develop incontinence experience urine leakage, lack of bladder control, and the frequent urge to urinate. It mainly affects older, pregnant, or postpartum women. Although many women choose to live with the discomfort, urinary incontinence can be reversed by improving one's lifestyle and incorporating regular pelvic muscle exercises.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about many changes in our daily lives, including the new norm of wearing a protective face mask while out in public. The mask provides necessary protection against the virus, however prolonged use can have an impact on your skin.
Brain fog is a common experience that can happen to anyone due to lack of sleep, certain medications, or exhaustion after heavy physical activity. However, many menstruating people experience brain fog right before menstruation, and sometimes the symptoms are so intense that they disrupt daily life.
They say you are what you eat. This idea can be helpful, provided we know what we are eating (which we often don’t). It can be very tempting to rely on an outside source to give us a list of special ingredients that will magically solve all our problems.
A urinary tract infection or UTI is a bacterial infection usually caused by gastroin-testinal bacteria that has travelled from the anal tract to the urinary tract. The condition is uncomfortable and painful, and, if left untreated, can lead to kidney damage.
Toxic shock syndrome is an acute, potentially fatal infection caused by staph or strep bacteria. Both types of bacteria can live harmlessly on your skin and in your nose and mouth—it is when there’s an overgrowth within the body that problems occur. The condition is commonly linked to the use of highly absorbent tampons during menstruation.