Anorexia nervosa disorder is an extreme psychological situation characterized by low BMI, illogical fear of weight gain, and low self esteem. Anorexia is a term which refers to self starvation. People who suffer from this disorder feel a sense of guilt when they happen to eat because they are fixated with a thin figure. In simple terms it is an eating disorder in which its sufferer is obsessed with their weight and the food they take. It is safe to say that they are afraid of themselves and of food. This disorder often results in low self esteem and inferiority complex.
People who suffer from anorexia are often skinny but view themselves as overweight hence the weird eating habits. Anorexia nervosa disorder is grouped into two based on its character traits.
The two types of anorexia and their characteristics are;
- Restrictive anorexia: people with this type of anorexia are cautious of the quantity of food they eat (if at all). They consume much less calories than their body needs. It may be gradual and slow but they end up starving themselves.
- Binge/purge anorexia: in this case, any food consumed ends up down the drain. The sense of guilt over the food eaten leads them to purge their body system. They do this by forcefully vomiting or taking unnecessary laxatives.
Whether restrictive anorexia or binge/purge anorexia, anorexia is mostly characterized by (symptoms);
- Irrational fear of weight gain
- Abnormal eating patterns
- Low BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Loss or thinning of hair
- Isolation and withdrawal
- Excessive exercise
- Abuse of laxatives
- Food restriction or starvation
- Rapid, continuous weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Mood swings
- Abdominal distention
- Anorexia is a psychological problem that starts from the mind. Most people who suffer from anorexia have a history of psychological problems hence the speculated causes of anorexia are more environmental than physical.
Here are some environmental factors that could cause anorexia;
- Family trauma especially during childhood. People who go through trauma during their childhood have a higher tendency to develop anorexia nervosa disorder during the later stage of their life.
- Profession and career lifestyle. Some professions promote people to maintain a particular body size and in a bid to diet one may skid over to anorexia unconsciously. The desperation to fit in could push one to an extreme. Anorexia is known to be common among models.
- Peer pressure. A lot of times family and peers put so much pressure on people that they, in a bid to conform, fall into the clutches of anorexia.
- Media. TV programs promote a certain thinness culture that make people want to be thin. The problem is that everyone wants to fit in to the ideal environment and some end up with anorexia nervosa disorder.
Beyond these there are also some biological factors that could trigger anorexia nervosa disorder though most of them are still being researched. They include;
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Irregular hormone function
- Obstetric complications
- Gastrointestinal disease
Though quite similar to dieting, anorexia is an extreme case and is often channeled towards finding some sort of happiness. Like said, it is a psychological situation where its sufferers are looking for satisfaction or approval. Diet may, on the other hand, simply be channeled towards weight loss or overall good health.
Since anorexia has been identified mostly to be a psychological problem, the ideal thing should be to take a psychological approach. In this case intense therapy is recommended. This situation is no joke so should be taken seriously. If possible a health care group or a support group should be formed by family, friends and professionals.
The goal is to;
- Help the patients to recall what could have triggered anorexia nervosa disorder. Together, look at past events that may explain the unhealthy patterns he or she has developed.
- Help them realize and accept that his or her current lifestyle is not healthy at all. Make them see the dangers of anorexia.
- Identify changes that could disrupt and eradicate these unhealthy patterns.
Note that all these should be done subtly and with utmost care, love and affection. Develop a diet plan that will encourage monitored weight gain until the patient attains a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). Do not start them off with heavy meals. Ease them into a healthy lifestyle. Those patients who have taken to taking laxatives should be made to stop gradually as stopping suddenly may cause nausea and constipation.
There are foods that help to fuel balance in the body and such foods could be helpful in recovering from anorexia nervosa disorder. They include;
- Protein based meals
- Healthy fats
- Fiber dense foods (fruits and veggies)
- Root veggies
Steadily including these nutrients into one’s meals will go a long way in the recovery process.
PhotoCredit: Daily Star