By Chloe Huizing
Many women suffer from eating disorders due to such high and intense pressure to meet the standard of what society calls ‘the perfect body’. Everywhere you go, you see pictures of photoshopped women that are meant to draw the eye and become the new image of beauty. Unfortunately, this photoshopped woman has now become the new identity that many teenage women see and want to become. This has led to an increase in eating disorders, directly and indirectly. Thousands of women, as well as men, are affected by the media’s opinion of beauty. The following are some facts about different types of eating disorders, and what signs to look for if a loved may be dealing with an eating disorder.
There are three main types of eating disorders:
1. Anorexia nervosa which is when there is an unusual excessive amount of weight loss due to a lack of eating or self-starvation. Anorexia Nervosa has a high death rate, and is found mainly in teenage girls and adult women, but teen boys and men can suffer from it as well.
The body cannot sustain itself due to lack of nutrition, in order for the body to maintain energy levels, it will slow all of its processes down, including heart rate. As a result heart failure, low blood pressure, osteoporosis, muscle loss and dehydration can occur.
People who suffer from anorexia nervosa generally have a fear of becoming over weight or the feeling of being fat despite the excessive weight loss.
Warning signs to watch for include, drastic weight loss; denial of hunger; excuses to avoid meals and any situation involving food; loss of involvement with family and friends and overly concerned with dieting and weight loss.
2. Bulimia nervosa happens when an individual eats a large amount of food in a short period of time followed by purging to get rid of the food that was just consumed. This process will most likely be done in secret to avoid any shame and any embarrassment. Bulimia mainly affects high school and college girls. Often these people will have an average body weight which makes it easy for their actions to go unnoticed. However, with these people, they develop schedules that allow them time to eat and purge without anyone noticing. The effects of this eating disorder are very harmful to the body – continual binging and purging sessions can do a lot of damage to the digestive system. Dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium can result in heart failure and death. There is also a potential for gastric rupture, inflammation and rupture of the esophagus, tooth decay and staining from acids, constipation and chronic irregular bowel movements.
Warning signs to watch for include large amounts of food gone in a short period of time; constant trips to the rest room immediately after meals; swelling in cheeks and jaw area and an excessive exercise routine.
3. Binge eating which is characterized by numerous, uncontrolled overeating periods. These individuals also experience random fasts or repetitive diets that eventually result in feelings of shame and self-hatred. Researchers have found that women binge more than men do and have a normal to overweight appearance. Many of these individuals have a history of depression and struggle with anxiety and loneliness. Binge eating can result in heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and gallbladder disease.
Warning signs to watch for include hoarding of food; hiding food and wrappers; eating alone or in secret; feeling a lack of control during the binge eating session; eating large amounts of food without feeling hungry and eating rapidly.
These three eating disorders are a symptom of a high-pressure society. A high stress environment can result in the feeling of losing order and control of one’s life. Anorexia nervosa can be an inappropriate way of dealing with stress – the individual feels that food is the one thing that they can control in life. Bulimia and binge eating are another way to cope or deal with the daily stresses of life by eating the food that gives them the temporary feeling of happiness and blocks the pain of a stressful life. However, the result of these disorders have a high potential to end in health failure or in severe cases, death. It is important to show the one you love the health risks of their behaviour and show them different ways to deal with stress. It is vital for your loved one to realize that no matter what body size they have, health is more important than being skinny, and health is more important than overeating to deal with pressure.
Chloe Huizing is a personal trainer at 360 Fitness in Red Deer.