There is an obvious stigma surrounding mental health topics.
There are many topics that fall into the category of “keep it to yourself”.
Eating disorders are rarely discussed – when they should be. In fact, many teenagers and young adults have a poor understanding of what correct eating habits are.
You may think that everyone should know basic nutrition and self-care habits, but the fact is that popular culture confuses the topics.
All of these messages float around society involving weight like:
- Plus size models…
- New weight loss pills…
- Skinny jeans…
- Super-sized fast food meals…
- Image comparisons on social media…
How you look, what you eat, the opportunity for processed and “fast” foods all make the convenience of eating seem so complex.
In the world that lacks mental health awareness, what we eat is one more element that we can control.
Eating is one more choice that we face each day.
What Makes Eating a Disorder
Eating disorders are any irregularity in eating. This can be over eating. under eating, or excessive dieting that is detrimental to health.
This can be the absence of eating or binge eating.
There are a variety of eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia.
It is a common misconception that women face these problems more than men.
The fact is that both genders are at risk to coping with eating disorders at some point in their lifetime.
Eating disorders can also be a symptom of other disorders or conditions.
Just like substance abuse, eating disorders are often accompanied by other mental health conditions.
This makes addressing the issue with the correct professional help even more important so that the right treatment can be found for any and all conditions or disorders.
Men and women that are diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder also struggle with eating.
Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder have a poor self-image. Along with poor self-image comes a very turbulent relationship with eating.
In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or EDNOS….
Disordered eating and dangerous weight loss behaviors have unfortunately become normalized in our culture. Dieting, “clean eating” and compulsive exercise are often precursors to full-bown eating disorders.
There is a common misconception that symptoms must be severe in order to seek professional help, but any symptom is cause for concern and it is best to intervene early. When disordered eating has a negative impact on quality of life, it’s time to seek help.
When Is Eating a Problem?
Those that suffer from mental health conditions may also exhibit symptoms that result in an interruption in sleeping or eating.
That is one reason that these conditions come with symptoms that include weight gain or weight loss.
It is important to recognize that everyone is different. We all have different genetics and metabolisms.
Our activity levels and the types of foods that we eat can also impact the delicate balance that our bodies maintain.
In the teenage years, there are many power struggles.
One of the only aspects of life that children can control is eating and sleeping – which is why parents often struggle with picky eaters and kids that won’t sleep. It’s important to address any mental health concerns head on with proper treatment.
When eating habits become a concern, it can be life threatening. Losing too much weight or gaining weight too quickly can exhaust normal body functions.
Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder
If you think you or someone you love may be struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek help.
Outpatient treatment or even residential treatment may be very beneficial to learn the right skills.
Education on the topic is really beneficial for long term success. In the meantime, here are some warning signs of an eating disorder:
- If someone has poor self-image
- Talking badly about themselves
- Emotional/ excessive eating
- Skipping meals frequently
- History of physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- History of depression and/or anxiety
- Constantly comparing themselves to others
- Setting unrealistic expectations of their bodies to others
- Substance abuse
- Self-harm and suicidal behaviors
While skipping meals here and there may not seem like a big deal to most people.
Taking care of our bodies is essential for our health and well-being.
Eating For Long Term Health
Some long term effects of poor diets are: (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders-new-trifold/index.shtml)
- Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
- Brittle hair and nails
- Dry and yellowish skin
- Growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo)
- Mild anemia, muscle wasting, and weakness
- Severe constipation
- Low blood pressure, or slowed breathing and pulse
- Damage to the structure and function of the heart
- Brain damage
- Multi-organ failure
- Drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
- Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time
The most important takeaway from this post is that eating disorders are one thing we need to talk more about.
Taking care of our bodies is important. Self-care routines are an essential part of recovery, healthy living, and successful lives.
Absolutely every person reading this blog pos has had some experience with eating disorders in some capacity. Whether it was a friend in high school, a family member, a mentally unstable romantic partner or an aunt – we all know someone that has experienced an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are entirely preventable if we can educate those around us.
If we can teach acceptance and help people in need find the right treatment, we can help encourage healthy and balanced living.
If you or someone you know are struggling with a mental health condition or eating disorder, call and speak to our friendly admissions team.
There are a variety of treatment options available – help if just a call away : 888-358-8998