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Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia
The incidences of eating disorders in our society have been steadily increasing over the last few years. It now occurs in 1 out of every 100 women. Nineteen out of 20 people who suffer from eating disorders are young women between 18 and 25.
Studies have found that our social habits and expectations increase the likelihood of the disorder in our young women. The emphasis on outward appearances and thinness are targeted daily through peer pressure and how our society markets its Health and Fitness Products and Services.
Yes obesity is definitely a problem in our society, and we have guidelines for Health and Nutrition, but the majority of young women fail to follow the guidelines in an effort to gain immediate gratification or have had abnormal eating habits throughout their lifetime.
Jennifer is 20 years old. She is very attractive and has always been an over achiever. From an early age she prided herself on her figure. She watched her diet, exercised daily and maintained a regiment of self-discipline. She has always been thin, but has never been satisfied with her weight or appearance. She continually strives to lose more weight. She is 5’ 6” and weighs 85 lbs.
Jennifer is unaware of the fact that she is undernourished, therefore she sees no problem with her appearance or weight.
How does this happen??
Learned behavior has a great deal to do with why this happens. Many young women develop anorexia-like patterns as our society is pressured with the pursuit of thinness. Many women are anorexic based on the eating patterns they have developed by trying to accomplish unrealistic weight goals.
Fashion models, long distance runners, women athletes and dancers commonly have anorexia-like traits.
1. An intense fear of becoming obese. Even as they lose more weight.
2. Inaccurate vision of how their bodies appear. Feeling fat when in actuality they are very thin and emaciated.
3. Continual weight loss. 25% or more of their original body weight.
4. Refusal to gain weight, which would place them in a normal body weight range.
A rigorous dieting regime will send the body into starvation mode. Then the physical effects will start to manifest themselves:
Thyroid hormones will become abnormal. Adrenal, growth hormones and blood-pressure hormones also become abnormal.
Heart functions change. The heart pumps less efficiently, muscles become weak and thin. Heart rhythms many change. Blood pressure levels fall.
GI function can become abnormal. Diarrhea occurs as the lining of the digestive tract slow.
High levels of Vitamin A and Carotene in the blood.
Reduced levels of Protein.
An increase in fine body hair, skin dryness and deceased skin temperatures.
Brain activity becomes abnormal. Loss of sleep and feeling of never having enough rest.
Anorexia Nervosa is hard to diagnose, because almost everyone in our society is in pursuing thinness. Denial and deception are common place for young women with Anorexia, therefore it takes a skilled professional to diagnose Anorexia.
Bulimia occurs in women of all ages, but is more common among those under 30. Bulimia is more common than Anorexia and in males. Only a small percentage of people who are Bulimic show signs of Anorexia.
Carry is a women in her late twenties, she maintain a normal weight range and obsesses about food. She starves herself then binges, when she has eaten too much she vomits.
Carry, like 60% of people with Bulimia, starts to binge after a period of extreme dieting. The most popular binge foods are food that are high in sugar and fat, and are easy to eat in large amounts. (cookies, cakes, ice cream, and bread products)
The side effects of the binge eating are swollen hands and feet, bloating, fatigue, headaches, nausea and pain.
Fluid and Electrolyte imbalances.
Abnormal Heart rhythms
Kidney dysfunction which can cause bladder infections and kidney failure.
Irritation to the pharynx, esophagus, and salivary glands.
Erosion of teeth and dental caries.
Use of laxatives can cause injury to the intestinal tract.
Bulimia has been described as a socially approved method of weight control. Practiced among women in the upper-classes because of social obligations which include many dinners and parties.
Both Anorexia and Bulimia are socially generated eating disorders generated by our need for the “perfect image”, resulting in self-destructive eating patterns.
Listen to your Body, it is Wiser than you Think. Respect your own unique traits and Diet sensibly.
Eating Disorder Treatment and Helpline
National Eating Disorders Association
Anorexia and Bulimia Care