Eating Disorders

The influence of the fashion industry has dictated what styles of clothes we wear, the style and color of our hair and hoe we apply our makeup. Recent fads such as waist training and thigh gaps have made apparent the extent to which the fashion industry values thinness. For some this means dieting, exercising and buying the latest figure altering support garments but for others this desire causes them to develop eating disorders.


One of the more well known eating disorders is anorexia nervosa. This condition is characterized by extreme dieting, extreme portion control and an obsession with weight gain. This disorder is closely related body dysmorphic disorder in that sufferers are unable to perceive themselves accurately and in spite of obvious thinness continue to perceive themselves as fat. Persons suffering from anorexia often engage in restrictive dieting practices such as ten almonds per day or only lettuce. A lesser known form of the disease called exercise anorexia employs exercises the weight control mechanism. Sufferers monitor their caloric intake while exercising frequently and strenuously. The nutritional deficit causes thinning of the hair, brittle bones and chronic fatigue.


Another popular eating disorder is bulimia nervosa. It is characterized by cycles of binge and purging. Persons suffering from this disease eat large volumes of food then induce vomiting or excretion by employing diuretics and laxatives. While the effects of this disease are more easily hidden than with anorexia the reversible and irreversible effects are numerous these include; loss of gag reflex, damage to the teeth and gums from repeated exposure to stomach acids, damage to the esophageal tract, damage to the heart and intestines.


Due to the psychological nature of these diseases and the unavoidability of food and eating they are very difficult to treat but the prognosis is usually quite promising. Treatment usually entails cognitive therapy and close monitoring to prevent the resumption of unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors. This is usually done at an in patient facility so that interventions are always accessible. Persons who suffer from eating disorders and the people that love them need to be mindful that without treatment death not only possible but likely.

Eating disorders are no longer a well kept secret. The taboo that once surrounded it no longer exists and many people are aware of its causes and symptoms. What is needed to stem the spread of this disease is a steady diet of self acceptance and the willingness to reject what is trending in favor of what is healthy.