When people hear the word eating disorder they tend to think of a young middle class white girl. It’s quite rare to hear about older men and women struggling with eating disorders even though it’s fairly common. Unfortunately, eating disorders do not discriminate against race, age, gender, class, or sexual orientation. The only thing that differs is their overall experience and how health professionals chose to treat them. There are three major eating disorders that some people suffer with on a daily basis.
The first is anorexia nervosa which is a potential life threatening disorder that affects about 1.1 million women and 340,000 men over the age of eighteen. It is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, self starvation, and excessive weight loss. Anorexia afflicts all individuals and has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. The warning signs include dramatic weight loss, denial of hunger, immoderate exercise and low self esteem. It’s very common for people with anorexia to do frequent body evaluations to gain information on their size and shape. Also, health is a big concern because it can lead to heart failure, muscle loss, and weakness.
Secondly, there is bulimia nervosa which is more common in the United States. It affects about 1.8 million women and 570,000 men. It consists of binging and purging which occurs about twice a week. Binge eaters consume an excessive amount of food in a short amount of time because they experience a loss of control. Purging could be done by taking laxatives to speed up the movement of food or more often throwing up. The warning signs include unusual swelling around the jaw, discoloration of the teeth, and frequent trips to a bathroom after every meal. The binge and purge cycles can damage the digestive system. And the purging behaviors can cause chemical imbalances in the body that affect major organs like the heart. Unlike anorexia, people that have bulimia can fall within the normal range for their weight and age so it can be difficult to detect. There is no single known cause to bulimia but culture, families, traumatic events, and biology could play a part in developing it.
Now the most common eating disorder in the United States is binge eating disorder (BED). This disorder slightly differs from bulimia. It’s where people binge but without the purging behavior afterwards. A binge can be triggered by stress, dieting, anger, or sadness. Typically, many people binge on junk food such as ice cream and candy. After eating these foods, people often feel a sense of guilt and shame about themselves. It’s because they tend to eat when they are not hungry or are extremely full. In that time food gives them a sense of comfort and eases all the stress. This can lead many adults on the road to heart disease and high cholesterol. Social pressures, biological abnormalities, and depression are heavily linked with binge eating disorder.
Generally eating disorders have been defined by women so...