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Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder affect both men and women. These are serious illnesses that can lead to serious physical problems, such as heart problems or kidney failure.
Often, an eating disorder is associated with other problems, such as stress, anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any stage of life, they are most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of young people may experience at least one eating disorder before the age of 20 .
Let’s take a look at the 3 most common eating disorders.
The three most common eating disorders are :
This eating disorder generally develops in adolescence or early adulthood, and affects more women than men. .
Sufferers essentially starve their bodies, resulting in a state of exhaustion due to lack of food.
Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include :
This lack of nutrition can affect the body in a number of ways:
A person who weighs at least 15% less than the average weight for their height generally lacks sufficient body fat to maintain their organs and other body parts in good health.
In extreme cases, this eating disorder can lead to extreme malnutrition and even death.
Like anorexia, bulimia tends to develop in adolescence and early adulthood, and appears to be less common in men than in women.
People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large quantities of food over a specific period of time.
Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:
In bulimia, frequent vomiting and lack of nutrition can cause the following problems:
This disorder generally begins in adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later.
People with this disorder have symptoms similar to those of bulimia.
For example, they typically eat unusually large quantities of food in relatively short periods of time, and experience a lack of control during binge eating episodes.
A person suffering from binge eating usually gains a lot of weight and is at risk of developing diabetes, heart problems and other obesity-related illnesses, not to mention indigestion and feelings of guilt, depression and shame.
Common symptoms of this eating disorder include:
Eating disorders can also cause emotional and relationship problems.
When someone is obsessed with their weight, it’s hard to focus on anything else.
It can be exhausting and overwhelming trying to control your food intake and exercise, plus you find yourself in a constant state of stress about food and your appearance.
It’s no wonder that people with eating disorders often become more solitary and less sociable.
Eating disorders can also consume a great deal of mental energy. Sufferers can become obsessed with planning what to eat; how to avoid eating; planning a binge; getting money to buy food, laxatives or other medication; inventing excuses to go to the bathroom after eating, or thinking about how to tell people around them that they want to be alone after a meal; etc.
Fortunately, eating disorders can be treated.
People with eating disorders can recover and gradually learn to correct their eating habits.
Treating an eating disorder involves both body and mind, so treatment and rehabilitation should be entrusted to doctors, mental health professionals and nutritionists.
In many cases, family therapy is essential to re-establishing healthy eating habits.
Parents and other family members play an important role in helping the person who needs to regain weight; who needs to cope with stress or other emotional problems without compulsive eating; or who needs to accept the shape of his or her own body in the face of the unrealistic standards presented by our culture.
Learning to be comfortable with a healthy weight is a process. It takes time to unlearn bad behaviors and replace them with healthier ones.
Be patient! You can learn to accept your own body, understand your eating habits and discover the link between your feelings and food.
We must always remember that it’s important to face these difficulties with competent professionals and, above all, to have the support of our own family.