Watch what you eat

Eating disorders are psychological and behaviour-related health conditions characterised by indefinite food intake disrupting eating behaviour and excessive concern about body weight and shape

Eating disorders are associated with false beliefs about looks and body size and usually start in adolescence. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating.

Disorder Detail

Researchers say that eating disorders are caused by a complex interaction of genetic, psychological, and social factors. While some have hereditary genetic factors contributing towards the disorder, psychological and socio-cultural factors weigh in more. Eating disorders, including binge eating disorder (BED), anorexia nervosa (AN), and bulimia nervosa (BN), are characterised by abnormal eating behaviours and obsession with weight and body image. “BED involves consuming large amounts of food in a short time, often leading to distress. AN manifests as severe food restriction, fear of gaining weight, and distorted body image. BN involves cycles of binge eating followed by purging behaviours like vomiting or excessive exercise. These disorders not only affect physical health but also mental well-being, often requiring professional intervention,” says Aaiisha Sanghavi, Nutrigenomic counsellor at HaystackAnalytics Pvt Ltd.

Watch Out

Psychological factors like perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive personality traits are fuelled by socio-cultural factors like peer pressure, fad diets, and slim body image concepts — social media acts as a catalyst. “Various behavioural actions and physical and emotional changes lead to perceptibly different eating habits, such as excessive obsession with calorie and fat content in food and discussion on weight gain and dieting, mood swings, anxiety, depression, abnormal eating behaviours like secretly eating alone and excessive exercising focussing only on weight loss. Major symptoms are fluctuating weight and repeatedly expressing dissatisfaction with one’s body weight and shape even if normal,” says Aman Puri, founder, Steadfast Nutrition, a sports nutrition, and wellness brand.

As they usually start during the adolescent age, eating disorders can take a toll on physical health in terms of growth and development. They can cause malnourishment, stunted growth, weaker immunity, electrolytic imbalances, nutritional deficiencies resulting in hormonal imbalances, bone weakening, reduced cognitive function and concentration and emotional instability by withdrawing from social interactions and isolating oneself.

Watch Your Plate

Dr Urman Dhruv, Director, Department of Internal Medicine and Diabetes, HCG Hospitals, Ahmedabad says, “There is a commonly held misconception that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.”

Eating disorders can lead to other diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and hypothyroidism. “It can even hamper a person’s mental health issues such as low self-esteem and negative body image. Eventually, it can be a financial burden for a family too because the treatment of eating disorders can be expensive,” says Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Founder- Director & Senior Psychiatric, Manasthali Wellness.

Take Help

In most cases people can be treated on an outpatient basis by a multi doctoral approach involving a physician, psychiatrist, and dietician. Physical needs to be addressed by gradual calorie intake and one on one supervision in an uncomplicated scenario. “The weight gain should not exceed 1.5 to 2 kg in a fortnight. As patients are usually unable to eat a large meal, especially in the initial part of treatment, it is advisable to suggest a greater number of meals (about six) per day. Hospitalisation is needed in severe cases with an extremely low potassium of less than 2.6meq/dl, suicidal ideations and failure of Outpatient based treatment. Occasionally, forceful Ryle’s tube feeding may be needed initially, in resistant clients. These issues can be rectified by cognitive behaviour therapy, Psychotherapy and medications like Antipsychotics, Antidepressants under expert guidance,” says Dr Sudhir Davala, RNC Superspeciality Hospital, Hyderabad.

Take charge of your health and eating habits today to lead a life that is easy and smooth.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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