Understanding Eating Disorders

People who have suffered from eating disorders can understand how long it can be to break down the mental barrier that made them suffer from the disorders in the first place. It is hard for anyone to understand the psychology of eating disorders if you are not a medical professional or a former patient. It is a combination of many things; the chief of which is low self-esteem and the desire to fit into some societal expectations that can only be perceived and justified by the patient. Eating disorders have long been a preserve of women, but men have been known to suffer from it as well.

Self esteem and eating disorders go hand in hand, no one who has eating disorders has a good self esteem of themselves. Women have reported looking into the mirror and noticing “rolls of fat“ in their midsections, while the rest of the world sees a stick-thin woman starving herself to death. The relationship between self-esteem and eating disorders hasn’t exactly been documented and it can be a situation of one giving birth to the other-in whichever order. Having a low self-esteem has led tens of thousands of women to develop eating disorders, and for those who have already been suffering from it, it has led to the maintenance of an eating disorder. It is a fact that low self-esteem develops way before a woman stars suffering from the eating disorder and it is one of the ways they deal with it – even as the rest of the world will see a woman starving herself to death.

Bulimia and anorexia has been noticed in girls as young as 10 to 12 and this can be attributed to the standards that the society places on them to stay thin. The fashion world; which many of the teenagers and young women want to be part of, detests anything that may be perceived as being overweight or “fat.” None of these women want to be referred to as fat or perceive themselves as such. Self esteem is defined as “how you feel about yourself…it is the factor that helps many people to gain confidence in their abilities and talents.” Other factors that affect self-esteem include the upbringing of a person, the culture, genetics, physical or sexual abuse, support systems, spirituality and other emotional factors. It will be very easy for a person to have an eating disorder if he or she was brought up in an environment whether he or she was abused and whether she wasn’t able to develop her abilities.  On the other hand, women who had better support systems in their families tend to have higher esteems of themselves.

To get a person suffering from bulimia or anorexia to stop the trend, it is important to help them focus on their own identities. Breaking the psychological barrier is what helps to break the self-destructiveness of the path they are following. Special attention has to be given to their childhood lives and how the environment affected who they were as individuals. High expectations set by parents or guardians may have affected their need to satisfy themselves and instead they wanted to meet the expectations that were set by other people. Anorexia and bulimia can also be brought about by the nature of work; hence the reason fashion models, actors and celebrities find themselves in this quagmire. This is addressed in the review of Trouble Spot Nutrition by Janet Hradil.

Self-esteem and body dissatisfaction are heavily intertwined but the latter is significantly stronger in the formation of eating disorders than the former. Therapists will look into body image perceptions of the patient before looking into the cause of self esteem. It is important to therapists to help a patient identify what is good in themselves and help them get a better self-esteem first. Recovery depends on how soon a patient starts equating their worth with their value in society as people, not how small their dress sizes are.  It is important for therapists to engage patients into their expectations and what they value for their future and so forth. Mothers with anorexia and bulimia can be taught on their self-worth by having them examine how important they are to their children and so forth. Again, this is addressed in Trouble Spot Nutrition.

It is a belief among people with eating disorders that they are not good for anything, and when they get loved or treated well, they do not deserve it. They believe that other people deserve good things, and not them. They do not seek out anything good for their health because they have a very low opinion about themselves. They think they deserve disappointment, embarrassment and sorrow. It is important to help patients of eating disorders to challenge these beliefs and help them realize that they deserve better than what they think they deserve.

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