Eating disorders and body image are in most cases connected. A woman with a poor body image may be so critical of herself that she develops an unhealthy desire to achieve a dangerously low body weight. She will go through extreme measure to lose weight, and although she may have lost a significant amount, she will never be satisfied.
There are three main types of eating disorders:
Someone with anorexia will drastically reduce their food intake by restricting calories, skipping meals frequently, and avoiding certain foods out of fear of gaining weight even though they have already lost a lot of weight or are underweight.
Someone with bulimia will binge (eat a very large portion of food) and then purge. They will purge through self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics and/or over exercising. This eating and purging occurs in short cycles.
A person with binge eating disorder will quickly down a very large portion of food almost uncontrollably until they feel totally sick, and then go through a period of guilt and disgust afterward. Unlike bulimia sufferers, binge eaters do not purge.
There are no definite causes for eating disorders, but there are many factors involved:
Combinations of these factors surround most eating disorders. It is not clear if genetics play a role in eating disorders and body image, however research shows that one’s environment fosters the early stages of these disorders.
Because these disorders are very secretive in nature, no one knows the exact number of suffers, but it is generally estimated that 3%-4% of the population struggles with an eating disorder. It is usually up to a friend or family member to detect these symptoms and contact intervention.
Eating disorders have serious consequences including poor health and fatality. Because eating disorders and body image go hand in hand, therapy and treatment usually involve counseling, and supports that address self-esteem and encourage self-love.
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