Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses which involve distorted body image, obsession with food, disturbances regarding eating behaviors and psychological issues. The incidence of eating disorders has dramatically increased the last decades. According to evidence, eating disorders mainly occur in adolescents, athletes and in the elderly and are more common in women than men.
Common eating disorders are:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Syndrome of athletic triad
Risk factors and consequences
Main causative factors that may lead to the appearance of eating disorders are psychological, environmental and genetic. Personality, age, stress and the sociocultural environment of an individual can also affect both the appearance and the treatment of eating disorders. The most common and serious eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa:
Anorexia nervosa is a very serious condition characterized by significant and voluntary restriction of food intake, distorted body image, low self-esteem, intense fear regarding weight gain and obsession with food. Prolonged starvation has very serious complications, like anemia, osteoporosis, brain damage and infertility and can be fatal.
Bulimia nervosa is also an eating disorder characterized by excessive food intake, uncontrolled behaviors regarding eating, lack of control and psychological stress because of lack of ability to maintain a normal weight. Both anorexia and bulimia can be followed by various compensatory behaviors such as taking laxatives or diuretics, causing vomiting, excessive physical activity or fasting.
Another quite common eating disorder is binge eating disorder, which is characterized by uncontrolled and compulsive overeating, but where no compensatory behaviors afterwards.
Therapy - treatment
Treatment of eating disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach including medical, psychiatric/psychological and nutritional interventions. Family involvement and participation to the therapy may be necessary for better and faster treatment.
Diet and food is just a way to take the appropriate energy and nutrients in order to maintain a healthy wellbeing. Love and accept yourself for who you are and avoid either restrictive or emotional eating.