What is Eating disorder?
Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviours—following rigid diets, gorging on food in secret, throwing up after meals, obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It's these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviours.
People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.
Main causes of eating disorder are:
Family problems. Some individuals with eating disorders come from disordered families. The families of anorexic patients are often characterized by extremely controlling parents and poor boundaries between the parents and the child.
Social problems. Most people who develop eating disorders report having painfully low self-esteem before the onset of their eating problems. Many patients describe going through a painful experience such as being teased about their appearance, being shunned, or going through a difficult break-up of a romantic relationship.
Major illness or injury can also result in an individual feeling extremely vulnerable or out of control. Anorexia and bulimia can be attempts to control or distract themselves from such trauma.
Self Esteem- The one trait that is obviously apparent in all sufferers of an Eating Disorder is their low self-esteem. Often they feel as though they are not good enough, that they never do anything right, that they are scrutinized by others for their appearance, and that their lives would get better if they could just lose weight. Sufferers can feel like they do not deserve to be happy, that they do not deserve good things to happen to them, and that they don't deserve to have anything but what is felt as a miserable existence.
Gender- It is widely understood that eating disorders usually affect women, although eating disorders in males are on the rise. Because women are affected more often, being female must be considered a risk factor that cannot be controlled.
Dieting- Dieting is one behavior that deserves special attention due to its profound effect on the development of eating disorders
Genetics- Research is always looking for ways in which genetics may make eating disorders more likely. What science is learning is intriguing.
Biological factors- Temperament seems to be, at least in part, genetically determined. Some personality types (obsessive-compulsive and sensitive-avoidant, for example) are more vulnerable to eating disorders than others. New research suggests that genetic factors predispose some people to anxiety, perfectionism, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviours. These people seem to have more than their share of eating disorders.
Psychological factors- People with eating disorders often are legitimately angry, but because they seek approval and fear criticism, they do not dare express that anger directly. They do not know how to express it in healthy ways. They turn it against themselves by starving or stuffing.
Cultural pressures- Westernized countries characterized by competitive striving for success, and in pockets of affluence in developing countries, women often experience unrealistic cultural demands for thinness. They respond by linking self-esteem to weight.