The two most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight, and bulimia nervosa which is described as excessive eating followed by purging.
The exact cause of eating disorders is not clear. Having an eating disorder is not a new choice of diet, nor is it simply a cry for attention. There is no single source leading to the development of an eating disorder. Anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, and other eating disorders originate from any number of psychological factors and complications that can develop in anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic conditions. However, they do tend to affect women more than men.
For some, eating issues can begin as young as ten years of age. Sometimes the disorder can arise in response to bullying, stress, or even idealizing the airbrushed pictures of celebrities and models.
It is crucial to understand that wishing to be the same weight as another person is not a sound goal, especially since no one knows who is suffering from an unhealthy disturbance in eating behavior.
Ever since the Victorian era, eating disorders have been a problem. During that period, it was deemed proper for women to eat very little, which was regarded as ladylike and accepted socially. Meanwhile, ridicule and speculation toward men with an eating disorder are common because the disorders are typically associated with feminine behavior.
Social standards for men have increasingly changed since the 1970s as they are expected to possess lean, muscular bodies. Thus, when is comes to an eating disorder, they risk double stigmatization of being perceived as less masculine especially since the disorder is usually associated with women.
The fact that someone rarely eats is nothing to applaud and should not be confused with willpower. Nor should the lack of willpower be suggested when one over eats due to an eating disorder. This is not an intentional choice. Though most people that struggle in disbelief of even having an eating problem, nevertheless, openly feel the need to restrict or binge their food intake.
It does not help those who are attempting to recover to hear comments on their appearance. Furthermore, it is important to know that it is never helpful to be angry at a person for eating too much or too little. Lashing out and berating a person for binging during meals or eating more late night snacks is not productive. Such a response might fuel self-criticism and disappointment, leading to increased depression or psychological issues.
Those suffering might feel that it is unnecessary to tell close friends or family about their eating disorder. They often fail to talk about their problems regardless of the fact they are in need of professional help.
More importantly, if one wants to understand how to help others who struggle with bulimia nervosa, binging, or anorexia, they must take the initiative to research the disorder. No one can immediately understand what someone else is going through just by looking at their outward appearance.
Eating disorders are serious conditions that need be talked about to build awareness.
No one is immune to experiencing an unhealthy disturbance in eating behavior. It is however, important for researchers to continue to shine a light on the disturbance.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Cathy Milne and D. Chandler
THE EPOCH TIMES: Holiday Season a Challenge for Those With Eating DisorHealth
Health: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who’s Had an Eating Disorder
Reader’s Digest: This Is What It’s Really Like to Have Binge Eating Disorder
WebMD: Eating Disorders in Children and Teens
The New York Times: ANOREXIA: IT’S NOT A NEW DISEASE
Eating Disorder Hope: Eating Disorder Stories of Hope
The Treatment: Writing Medicine and Illness: Rebel Girls: How Victorian Girls Used Anorexia to Conform and Revolt
Daily Mail: My anorexia was fuelled by celebrity magazines: Victim demands ban on airbrushed photographs
ALLURE: What I Wish My Doctor Understood About My Eating Disorder
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Santiago Alvarez’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License