Eating Disorders: An Introduction
Food is to our bodies as fuel is to vehicles – it energises every cell of the body and keeps us afloat.
However, just like too much or too less fuel can adversely affect a vehicle, fluctuations in one’s food intake can play havoc in the body. Eating disorders arise from faulty food consumption patterns prevalent over significantly longer periods.
Psychiatry.org defines eating disorders as “illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions.”
Such prolonged disturbances to one’s food intake can lead to serious long-term physical, mental and emotional repercussions.
What Causes Eating Disorders?
Some common causes of eating disorders are as follows:
- Biological factors such as genetic inheritance of the disorder, or susceptibility to it due to underlying conditions like type-I diabetes.
- Psychological factors such as negative self-image, anxiety, fear of losing control over one’s body, depression, etc.
- Social factors like familial pressure, body-shaming, bullying in school or college, etc.
Types of Eating Disorders
Some common and recognised eating disorders are as follows:
- Anorexia Nervosa:
- Anorexia involves long spells of complete or partial starvation, often consisting of sparse meals and induced purging.
- While most individuals struggling with anorexia are underweight, this need not always be the case.
- Anorexia nervosa is more commonly found in the younger population and is more prevalent among women than men.
- Bulimia Nervosa:
- Bulimia involves attempts to burn calories by inducing purging.
- These bouts of purging are often preceded by binge eating, or consuming large portions of food at a time.
- Unlike anorexics, individuals with bulimia often maintain optimal weight and are not prone to food restrictions.
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Here, the individual loses control of his/her appetite and consumes enormous quantities of food, often leading to weight gain and obesity.
- The condition is often followed by guilt and shame, causing one to eat in isolation to avoid embarrassment.
- People dealing with binge eating disorders may lose their sense of hunger and continue their food intake even when full.
- Orthorexia refers to extreme fear of consuming unhealthy or junk food and a consequent aversion even to the sight and smell of such foods.
- In its severe form, the disorder can involve an obsession with food research, avoiding specific foods, and even starvation.
The Way Ahead With Safe House
A person struggling with an eating disorder may often feel embarrassed and guilty about his/her condition. We at Safe House provide them with a comfortable space to work towards a better future. Here are some services and facilities we offer:
- One-on-One Therapy Sessions: Our therapy sessions by highly-skilled psychologists include various therapy types like talk therapy, art therapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), etc. Such a well-defined therapy experience helps individuals challenge their existing thought and behavioural patterns in an unconditionally accepting environment.
- Medical Interventions and Care: Our psychiatrists and physicians are well-aware of what medications need to be administered to patients at what dosages. They also understand any possible side-effects and psychological repercussions of these and help patients seamlessly wade through such initial setbacks.
- Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Healing: Our yoga, meditation, and self-reflection activities allow patients to delve deeper into themselves. These practices enable them to establish inner-peace and self-acceptance and ensure physical, mental, and emotional wellness.
- Meticulously Planned Meals and Nutrition Counselling: Our counsellors and psychologists understand the patient’s specific eating disorder and plan out their meals systematically, ensuring that the programme compensates for the lack of proper intake so far. Timely nutritional counselling alongside psychotherapy and medications significantly contributes to the patient’s steady progress.