Eating disorders have been around for centuries. They continue to be extremely baffling, mind boggling and outlandish for the individual struggling with the disorder and certainly for those who love this struggling individual. Eating disorders appear to be an exact example of Romans 7:15- “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate is what I do.” Eating disorders present as issues with food, but in actuality they are serious emotional, physical and psychological problems. Any or all of these problems can have life threatening consequences for women and men!
There are many flavors of eating disorders including:
- anorexia-severe restriction of energy intake
- bulimia-recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by vomiting
- binge eating disorder-recurrent episodes of binge eating
- diabulemia- diabetic persons who withhold insulin to purge calories
- night eating syndrome- recurrent episodes of eating during the night
- orthorexia- an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food
- anorexia athletica -excessive obsessive exercise
In the world of eating disorders, food and the control of food is an attempt to manage feelings and emotions that seem overwhelming. Restricting, binging, purging, or excessive exercise may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and feelings. Eventually the eating disorder behaviors become extremely obsessive/ compulsive and grow into a monster of their own, destroying the person’s emotional and physical health, self esteem, sense of significance and control.
Physiological factors that can contribute to eating disorders:
- low esteem
- feelings of insignificance and lack of control in life
- depression, anxiety, anger or loneliness
Interpersonal factors that can contribute to eating disorders:
- troubled families and personal relationships
- difficulty expressing emotions and feelings
- history of being teased or ridiculed on size or weight – particularly from either parent
- history of physical or sexual abuse
Society offers many influences which can contribute to eating disorders and body image issues. Cultural norms which equate thinness and beauty promote efforts to achieve the “perfect body.” Constant comments about hips, thighs, stomach, dieting, calories, fats in food and on the body, or ‘carbohydrates are bad’ all promote the obsession to constantly evaluate your food and your body to determine if you are “OK”!