An eating disorder is a mental illness characterized by irregular consumption patterns and severe distress concerning a person’s body weight. This may include inadequate or excessive food intake which can be harmful to a person’s overall health. The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder (BED), which can affect both males and females.
An eating disorder may develop at any time during a person’s life however, this illness typically appears during teenage years or young adulthood. Although this is a treatable condition, it can be detrimental and even deadly if action is not taken. Eating disorders are often linked with other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or depression.
Types of Eating Disorders
Those suffering from Anorexia will have a compulsive fear of gaining weight. In becoming obsessed with maintaining a certain size, they will form unhealthy consumption patterns. This causes the individual to have an unrealistic perception of body image and will limit the quantity of food that they consume. Anorexics establish a mind frame that create a default thought: “I’m overweight.” Though this may not be true, it can have many harmful effects including brain damage, organ failure, or bone loss.
Bulimia is a disorder characterized by excessive binge eating followed by forced vomiting, excessive exercise, or an extreme use of laxatives. Similar to Anorexia, those who suffer from this condition also fear weight gain and are unhappy with their body image. More often than not, overeating is carried out secretly, which leads to feelings of guilt and lack of control. Bulimia can also cause other health conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, dehydration, heart conditions, etc.
Binge Eating Disorder
Those suffering from a Binge Eating Disorder (BED) constantly lose control of their food intake. Instead of forced vomiting or food deprivation, someone with a BED will consume an unhealthy amount of food. This may result in obesity and create an increased risk of developing other conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. In addition, feelings of guilt, lack of control, or embarrassment may encourage a future eating disorder to commence.
How can you help yourself throughout this process? We have included a list of six skills that can be applied to help you cope with your eating disorder:
Rather than repressing pain or negative thoughts throughout the day, putting your feelings on paper can help you release distress and tension. This form of expression is individualistic and allows you to liberate yourself of any urges or upsetting emotions you may have. Set a goal and hold yourself accountable to journaling at least one page per day- this can involve feelings, what you did that day, your emotions, or anything you feel could promote internal peace.
2. Loving Yourself
While it’s easy to be compassionate towards others, we often forget that it is equally important to give ourselves the same love and attention. Eating disorders develop as a coping mechanism for uncomfortable emotions and feelings. Fostering self-respect is a great way to overcome body image issues that an individual may have. Despite this, it can be difficult to achieve. It is important to practice reassurance of your journey, progress, and potential.
3. Maintaining Motivation
Finding the courage to seek help for your eating disorder can be difficult. Once an individual has fostered the motivation to undergo treatment, it is important to have a list of goals on the go at all times. Finding ways to stay motivated will not only prevent you from falling back into old habits but will improve your recovery in the long-term. Find what it is that helps you stay excited about recovering and hold yourself responsible for practicing these things every day.
4. Eating Regularly
Whether you are suffering from a Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, or Anorexia, regular eating is crucial to repairing your disorder. By setting habitual meal times, it will reduce hunger throughout the day which can trigger you to eat more than necessary. Set healthy meal preparation goals and eat snacks in between. Feeling hungry or deprived of nutrients can trigger unconventional behaviours and additional health concerns, thus making it important to keep track of your intake.
5. Strong Support System
Having a strong support system is essential throughout the recovery process. If you begin to feel self-doubt, you will need someone who can offer support and encourage positivity. Aside from friends and family members, there are also support groups available for eating disorders. Find a therapeutic session that works best for your individual needs and accept its support. By distracting yourself and interacting with others, you may learn valuable lessons in creating a healthier future.
6. Making The Right Choices (Beating Temptations)
Carefully assessing the situation in advance will be a useful tool to help prevent irrational decisions. It is important to analyze the pros and cons as well as alternate approached to addressing the circumstances. Remember that food is often used to help fill an empty feeling or cope with pain. Finding alternate ways to fill this void and practice healthy solutions will result in making effective decisions. By seeking help, people are more likely to recognize the necessary changes that need to be made to promote a successful future.