Eating Disorders describes illnesses that are characterized by irregular eating habits and severe distress or concern about body weight or shape.
Eating disturbances may include inadequate or excessive food intake which can ultimately damage an individual’s perception and well-being. The most common forms of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder and affect both females and males.
- Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight
- Constant weight fluctuations
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
- Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking
- Depression or lethargic stage
- Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn
- Switching between periods of overeating and fasting
Causes of Disordered Eating
Eating Disorders are complex disorders, influenced by a number of factors. Though the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, it is generally believed that a combination of biological, psychological, and/or environmental abnormalities contribute to the development of these illnesses.
Biological factors include:
- Irregular hormone functions
- Genetics (the tie between eating disorders and one’s genes is still being heavily researched, but we know that genetics plays an important role).
- Nutritional deficiencies
Psychological factors include:
- Negative body image
- Poor self-esteem
Environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of eating disorders are:
- Dysfunctional family dynamics
- Professions and careers that promote being thin and weight loss, such as ballet and modeling
Aesthetically oriented sports, where an emphasis is placed on maintaining a lean body for enhanced performance like;
- Long distance running
- Family and childhood traumas: childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma
- Cultural and/or peer pressure among friends and co-workers
- Stressful transitions or life changes