What are eating disorders?
Worries about weight, shape and eating are common, especially among teenage girls and boys. Being very overweight or obese can cause a lot of problems, particularly with health. Quite often, someone who is overweight can lose weight simply by eating more healthily. It sounds easy, but they may need help to find a way of doing this.
A lot of young people, many of whom are not overweight in the first place, want to be thinner. They often try to lose weight by dieting or skipping meals. For some, worries about weight becomes an obsession. This can turn into a serious eating disorder. This leaflet is about the most common eating disorders:- anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
-Someone with anorexia nervosa worries all the time about being fat (even if they are skinny) and eats very little. They lose a lot of weight and their periods stop.
-Someone with bulimia nervosa also worries a lot about weight. They alternate between eating next to nothing, and then having binges when they gorge themselves. They vomit or take laxatives to control their weight.
Both of these eating disorders are more common in girls, but do occur in boys.
What are the signs of anorexia or bulimia?
- Weight loss or unusual weight changes
- Periods being irregular or stopping
- Missing meals, eating very little and avoiding `fattening’ foods
- Avoiding eating in public, secret eating
- Large amounts of food disappearing from the cupboards
- Believing they are fat when underweight
- Exercising excessively
- Becoming preoccupied with food, cooking for other people
- Going to the bathroom or toilet immediately after meals
- Using laxatives and vomiting to control weight.
It may be difficult for parents or teachers to tell the difference between ordinary teenage dieting and a more serious problem. If you are concerned about your child’s weight and how they are eating, consult your family doctor.
What effects can eating disorders have?
- Tiredness and difficulty with normal activities
- Damage to health, including stunting of growth and damage to bones and internal organs
- Loss of periods and risk of infertility
- Anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviour or perfectionism
- Poor concentration, missing school, college or work
- Lack of confidence, withdrawal from friends
- Dependency or over-involvement with parents, instead of developing independence.
It’s important to remember that, if allowed to continue unchecked, both anorexia and bulimia can be life-threatening conditions. Over time, they are harder to treat, and the effects become more serious.
What causes eating disorders?
Eating disorders are caused by a number of different things:
- Worry or stress may lead to comfort eating. This may cause worries about getting fat.
- Dieting and missing meals lead to craving for food, loss of control and over-eating.
- Anorexia or bulimia can develop as a complication of more extreme dieting, perhaps triggered by an upsetting event, such as family breakdown, death or separation in the family, bullying at school or abuse.
- Sometimes, anorexia and bulimia may be a way of trying to feel in control if life feels stressful.
- More ordinary events, such as the loss of a friend, a teasing remark or school exams, may also be the trigger in a vulnerable person.
Where can I get help?
If you think a young person may be developing an eating disorder, don’t be afraid to ask them if they are worried about themselves. Some young people will not want you to interfere. These simple suggestions are useful to help young people to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders:
- Eat regular meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Try to eat a `balanced’ diet – one that contains all the types of food your body needs.
- Include carbohydrate foods such as bread, rice, pasta or cereals with every meal.
- Don’t miss meals – long gaps encourage over-eating.
- Avoid sugary or high-fat snacks (try eating a banana instead of a bar of chocolate).
- Take regular exercise.
- Try not to be influenced by other people skipping meals or commenting on weight.
TV, newspapers, magazines and other media consistently advertise new and improved diets that’ll finally give you the figure you’ve wanted without the pain and suffering. Here’s a look at some of the lies about dieting and some tips on how to keep from being duped.
Lie No. 1: You can have instant and lasting results. Listen to your grandmother on this one: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Weight loss is a natural process that comes from eating properly and exercising. If a program promises that you’ll quickly lose a lot of weight, there’s probably something unhealthy or hard to maintain about what the diet requires. A good weight loss plan becomes a part of a healthy lifestyle, not a quick-fix.
Lie No. 2: Eating less equals weight loss, so skip meals. False! This is probably one of the most serious and harmful lies, probably because it seems to work. And it will—if you never eat again. You might be blissfully thin for a few months of your life, and then you’ll suffer from malnutrition.
Skipping meals begins a natural process in your body. It doesn’t know why it’s suddenly not getting fed, so it automatically goes into starvation mode. You’ll lose weight because your body not only burns stored fat but also breaks down muscle to replace the food it’s used to receiving. Starvation is fatal in less than two months.
The second thing that your body does in survival mode is to start storing the energy (calories) it receives in anticipation of another famine. That means that you’re sabotaging your own metabolism by skipping meals. Rather than being burned immediately, a large number of incoming calories are being stored as fat when you finally eat. This starts a vicious cycle of losing and gaining weight that can be avoided if you eat well-rounded, nutritious meals.
Lie No. 3: Pay no attention to the food pyramid. Some diets promise slimness by cutting out parts of the pyramid, such as the carbohydrates. Some focus on only one food group or only one food, such as grapefruit, celery or popcorn. One girl went on a butterscotch-only diet and lost dozens of pounds but was eventually hospitalized for malnutrition and an eating disorder.
Other people on unhealthy diets experience side effects including dizziness, passing out, stomach problems and organ dysfunction.
Don’t consider any diet that deprives you of balanced nutrition, which consists of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, protein and the right kinds of fats (mono and polyunsaturated). Study the food pyramid (mypyramid.gov) and recommended daily intakes to be sure that you’re being a good steward of your body.
Lie No. 4: The media know best. Be careful whom you trust. Look at the source that recommended the diet to you. If it was on TV, in a newspaper ad or on a yellow piece of poster board stapled to a telephone pole, seek another source of advice. If the source is disreputable or sounds too good to be true, it probably has your wallet—not your body—in mind.
Talk to your doctor, who may also recommend an appointment with a nutritionist. Your doctor can tell you whether the diet you’re considering is helpful or harmful and can even help you know whether or not you need to lose weight. Involving experts can get you on the fast track to looking great and feeling healthy.
Lie No. 5: No need for exercise. Diet without exercise is like pushing a car down the highway. Just as it’s safer and quicker to jump in the car and drive, it’s more effective to balance exercise with diet to produce your desired results. Although you may get where you want to go eventually, disciplining yourself with regular exercise can help you lose weight faster and keep it off for the rest of your life.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a pain, but it does have to be consistent. Make it fun! Find something you like to do. Do you like to run? Ride a bike? Rollerblade? Swim? Walk? If you like to exercise with other people, try signing up for classes designed for groups like aerobics, a community sports team or bicycling club.
Once you understand healthy nutrition and weight loss and master the art of avoiding dieting lies, you can incorporate a lifestyle that balances diet and exercise into a program that works for your body. Then you’ll be on your way to a healthier and more confident you!
Lastly, everyone is a person behind the layers of fat or the opposite buto’t balat lahat may puso na nasasaktan. But we need to remind ourselves kahit ano pa ang body size natin what God’s word says about our BODY.