Eating patterns differ from one person to another and the amount of food an individual eats also differs from one person to another. But some people suffer from eating disorders and it is essential to differentiate between normal eating patterns and eating patterns in eating disorders.
Eating disorders are considered to be serious medical conditions that are characterized by disturbances in eating behaviors. Eating disorders can affect people of all ages and it involves intense emotions and behavior related to food. Eating disorders are often said to be a psychiatric illness as the things that might contribute to the development of eating disorders include anxiety, low mood or depressed mood, and low self-esteem.
Genetics can also play a role in the occurrence of eating disorders. Like other health issues, genetics can increase the risk of developing an eating disorder as well. People who have a family history of eating disorders or any other disorder that increases the risk of eating disorders are at high risk of developing an eating disorder.
Other than genetics, stress can also contribute to the development of eating disorders. Under stress, people tend to adopt unhealthy eating habits and it can lead to disturbances in eating behaviors. In short, eating disorder can result from the combination of genetics, behavioral, psychological and social factors.
There are several types of eating disorders but some of the most common eating disorders include:p>
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is a severe and distressing type of eating disorder. Anorexia is an important cause of physical and psychosocial morbidity. People having anorexia nervosa feels that they are overweight, even though they are underweight or thin. These people eat very little food that they experience unhealthy weight loss and they become very thin. It is a serious mental disorder that affects individuals of any age and gender. However, adolescent girls and young adult women are at higher risk of developing anorexia nervosa. Primary symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- Intense fear or being fat or gain weight, even though a person is underweight.
- Loss of menstrual periods.
- Resistance to maintaining body weight
- Denial of hunger
People with anorexia nervosa are often found to have impaired cognitive and emotional functioning. It is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and having a disturbed body image. This motivates an individual to restrict diet and do excessive exercise. Low body mass index is the central feature of anorexia nervosa. This eating disorder can cause various symptoms of weak muscles, constipation, dry skin, feeling tired, sadness, poor memory, and weakness.
2. Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is a disorder that is associated with both physical well as psychological suffering. It is defined as recurrent episodes of binge eating and is characterized by at least three of the following symptoms:
- Eating rapidly than normal
- Eating a large amount of food even when not feeling hungry
- Feeling guilty after overeating
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Feeling embarrassed
According to the research, women are more likely to develop binge eating disorder as compared to men. Women who diet more often are more likely to develop binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is basically a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode. Sometimes binge eating disorder is associated with various psychological factors such as the depressed mood, anxiety problems, and difficulty expressing emotions, lack of control, poor body image and low self-esteem.
Binge eating can result from psychological conditions, such as stress. Many people under stress are more likely to have binge eating disorder. Obesity is the most common complication that is associated with binge eating disorder. This is because binge eating is all about overeating and an excessive intake of calories and obesity is defined as a condition which occurs due to an increase in the intake of calories and decrease in its expenditure.
3. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is considered to be a life-threatening mental illness and it is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating, accompanied by self-induced vomiting, and other exercises to purge their excessive food intake. Basically, people with bulimia nervosa eat a large amount of food in a short period of time and later they try to prevent weight gain by purging or getting rid of food. They often feel a lack of control while eating.
Bulimia nervosa is accompanied by various physical, psychological and behavioral changes. Some of the physical changes may include:
- Frequent change in weight
- Feeling bloated
- Problems with sleeping
Some of the psychological changes may include:
- Sensitivity to talks related to food and weight.
- Obsession with food
- Need for control
Some of the behavioral changes may include:
- Self-induced vomiting
- Anti-social behavior
- Secretive behavior around food
- Erratic behavior.
Bulimia nervosa can affect people of all age, but according to the studies, it mainly affects women aged between 16 and 40 years. It is more common among teenage girls and adult women.