By Aparna Komarla:
Eating disorders are conditions that negatively impact one’s health and emotions. They are characterized by serious disturbances in eating habits, emotional stability and weight regulation. Most eating disorders involve focusing too much on weight, body shape and food intake, leading to these dangerous eating behaviors. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders observed in young adults.
Here are 11 things about eating disorders that everyone needs to know.
1. Eating disorders are not a sign of weakness. We must not equate having a mental health issue with low emotional strength or resilience.
2. Eating disorders are linked to emotions more than food. The underlying causes that spark these emotions, and the emotions themselves, need to be addressed rather than dealing with the symptoms alone.
3. Eating disorders can be caused due to psychological reasons like depression, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, or dissatisfaction with body image. Some people have recounted incidents in their life in which they were bullied for their weight or physical appearance that severely affected the way they perceived themselves. Adolescents tend to develop feelings of inadequacy on being subjected to the media’s narrow portrayals of ‘beauty’ and norms that place immense value on certain forms of physical attributes.
4. Gender is not a factor contributing to eating disorders. Eating disorders are not only a ‘female’ problem’. Contrary to what many may believe, even boys and men suffer from it.
5. Eating disorders are health issues like any other, and can be treated and cured completely. We must seek help without being ashamed. Eating disorders are linked to one’s emotions, and therefore with a combination of counseling and therapy, the problem can be resolved.
6. As individuals, we need to talk about it openly, and not make it a taboo. Conversations about the issue with family or friends to make them aware about these issues are important.
7. It is important for us to stop perpetuating these norms around body image ourselves. We can start by giving lesser importance to norms prevalent that glorify specific representations of ‘beauty’, like being ultra-thin, for example and start by identifying ourselves and the people around us for things less materialistic – like our personalities or ambitions.
8. It’s often observed that children or teenagers who are overweight are teased, called names or bullied. Even if unintended, those taunts could have an adverse negative effect on a child’s psychology – leading to a distorted self-image, and lack of confidence and self-esteem. It is of utmost importance to be thoughtful and sensitive when we speak to one another, and avoid insulting, bullying or teasing people for weight/appearance. Alternatively, if someone is being bullied, alerting the faculty or counselors instead of keeping quiet would help.
9. Although, parents have good intentions at heart while forcing children to better their eating habits, it tends to do more harm than good. Accusations and forcefulness only makes the child more uncomfortable and distant. It would be more helpful if they help their children adopt a healthy eating routine along with an exercise plan suitable to their age and health from a young age.
10. Body confidence is the feeling of comfort and happiness with one’s body image. It is to do with how we perceive ourselves, and how content we feel with what we see in a mirror. Developing body confidence is important not only as a solution to those dealing with an eating disorder, but is also important for those who aren’t dealing with one.
11. Participating regularly in sports, exercise activities, yoga, dance or any mode of physical exertion is a good way to deal with eating disorders and improve body confidence. Identify talents, passions and interests. Invest your time and energy in those fields. Pursuing these activities is a healthy outlet for negative thoughts and energy. Channeling your energy into constructive activities you are passionate about gives you a sense of purpose, and a platform to understand yourself better.
A positive environment with positive and motivated people go a long way in helping those suffering from eating disorders. Work towards eliminating the root causes of negative thoughts. And remember that being proud of oneself isn’t a bad thing. Identify strengths and weaknesses, appreciate and pride yourself for your strengths and try to work on your weaknesses. Strive for betterment and improvement, if not perfection.
Live to Dream is a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India that aims at empowering creativity and employing creativity. The idea of ‘Live to Dream’ is to make positive change in society by supporting creativity, developing ideas, addressing social issues and empowering youth to participate in this change making process.
Project X is an initiative to educate the youth and generations prior to ours about mental health issues that affect teenagers. We are working toward this goal by providing offline access to coherent content, from psychologists and medical associations.