BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Eating Disorder



Eating disorders are recurring food-related behaviors and conditions that adversely affect wellbeing, emotions, and energy levels throughout the day. Eating disorders are quite common and may not appear to be serious conditions, but they are dangerous. Additionally, these disorders can affect overall health and ability to function properly or carry out daily activities. More so, the relationship with food as well as a person’s attitudes and behaviors towards food can significantly impact the body’s nutrition. Food nourishes the entire body and eating disorders can cause diseases that affect all the body organs including the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, and the brain. The most common causes of eating disorders include exaggerated focus on weight loss, body shape and fear of weight gain. Most eating disorders begin at ages when good looks and weight loss is often prioritized such as teen and young adult years, however, they can also begin at other ages.

Although the exact cause is not always known, there are several sources and risk factors associated with eating disorders and they include genetic makeup, biological composition, psychological and emotional health, family history, age, preexisting mental health conditions, dieting and stress. Described below are the most common eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder

Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia, simply put, is an eating disorder characterized by factors such as extreme fear of weight gain, low body weight and unrealistic perception of body size. People experiencing anorexia try to control their weight by using adverse means and methods including calorie restriction, excess exercise, induced vomiting, laxatives, and diet aids. These means and methods can cause starvation, negatively affecting health and the ability to engage in or carry out routine activities.

Bulimia nervosa: Bulimia is a severe, potentially life-threatening eating disorder reflected by cycles of bingeing and purging. Individuals who have this condition enjoy the thrill of eating but not the consequences of overeating. For this reason, they induce purging to prevent food from being stored in their bodies as well as prevent or reduce associated weight gain. These individuals may also restrict their eating by following  very strict diets, then overcompensate by eating large amounts of food in a short period of time. Many people with bulimia also restrict their eating during the day, which often leads to more binge eating and purging. Like Anorexia, guilt from overeating and fear of weight gain leads to using adverse methods such as purging and laxatives, to get rid of the calories.

Binge-eating disorder: Binge-eating disorders are characterized by frequent overeating and a feeling of lacking control. People who have this condition may eat quickly, ear more food than planned, and may continue eating even when no longer hungry. This habit is followed by feelings of guilt, disgust, shame, and embarrassment, and may lead to hiding while eating.

Rumination disorder: Rumination disorder involves the constant regurgitation of food after eating. This disorder is not associated with mental health and may be natural and unintentional. In this disorder, food is clawed back into the mouth without vomiting. Sometimes, the clawed back food may be chewed again and swallowed or discarded. This disorder is predominant in infants and people who have an intellectual disability.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder: In this disorder, food is not avoided for fear of gaining weight but due to specific sensory features, such as color, texture, smell, or taste. People with this disorder may lack interest in food and eventually fall below daily calorie requirement given their constant food avoiding or restricting behaviors. This eventually leads to significant weight loss and nutritional deficiencies that result in health problems.

Eating disorders are both preventable and treatable. These are some of the ways to prevent or overcome them:

  • Diet with caution and cultivate a positive body image
  • Be informed about eating disorders and their symptoms as well as factors that can contribute to them 
  • Live a healthy, balanced lifestyle because health and well-being are possible in any shape and size.
  • Do not engage in discussions and entertainment that reinforce body shaming or ideal body types
  • Develop a healthy self esteem
  • Visit a licensed health practitioner for advise

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