Everyone experience body image issues at some point in their lives. Teenagers and adolescents are extremely concerned with their physical appearance and at times, may carry on into their adulthood. It doesn’t help that media and society highly praise the perfect body. Females strive for a slimmer waist, bigger breasts, and thinner thighs. Males attempt to be bulk up their muscles. While it is perfectly fine to try to achieve the perfect body, there are some limitations and boundaries on what is a normal and safe way of trying to get this “model” body.
Someone who is struggling with an eating disorder may attempt to eat “normally” in the presence of others, and then look for opportunities to be alone to find ways to binge or purge. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
Bulimia nervosa is an example of eating disorders that place teenagers and young adults at a higher degree of physical and mental health risk. It is not only simply a physical concern but also a mental disorder. It is characterized by abnormal eating habits that affect the person’s physical and mental health.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by guilty then purging of previously eaten food or excessive use of laxative/diuretics, excessive exercise or a combination of these activities. Oftentimes, individuals with bulimia nervosa have normal weight, overweight or obese.
According to research, the incidence of eating disorders is prevalent in female individuals as compared to males. Studies show that eating disorders affect about 12% of dancers. Also, a person who experienced sexual abuse has a higher tendency to develop eating disorders. It is claimed that globally, binge eating plagues about 1.6% of women and 0.8% of men in a given year while anorexia and bulimia affect 0.4% and 1.3% respectively of young women in a given year.
Fat people face the scorn of society and are open targets for discrimination and bigotry. It’s no wonder that so many will try anything possible to lose weight, even if that means engaging in eating disorder behaviors that compromise their health. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The predominant sign that a person has bulimia nervosa is not because she/he is thin, rather her/his activities pertaining to food intake and getting rid of it is quite alarming. As the person develops the habit of eating too much out of compulsion and becomes obsessed on how to eliminate the food intake from the body, the physical symptoms start to appear. Some of the most common symptoms are acid reflux disorder & gastrointestinal problems, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance due to excessive vomiting and induced bowel movement, chronic inflammation of the throat and swollen salivary glands due to constant gagging and induced vomiting, and worn tooth enamel and decaying teeth due to irritation of the gastric juices during vomiting.
SELF-HELP TIPS & GUIDE
The first step in overcoming eating disorder is to realize that one has a problem. Acceptance of the reality of the problem is a tough boulder to climb over since individuals with body dysmorphic problems cling to the idea that achieving that ideal body is the answer to happiness.
Next, ask for help and seek support from friends, family members, and loved ones. Opening the conversation about one’s body disorder would be very awkward. Start the conversation by stating that this talk is important and hard for you. Learn to be patient and allow them to react. They might be shocked or have an inkling that you have some problems. Specifically, verbalize to them how you will expect them to support you on your road to recovery. If you are afraid or ashamed of your condition, there are anonymous chat rooms that you can select online and somehow this can be a start to your treatment process.
The diet culture reaches our children at younger and younger ages; almost one third of girls with weights in completely healthy ranges have nevertheless dieted. — Dana Harron Psy.D.
Choose your treatment team. Find a team that you are comfortable with. The right fit might spell the difference between success and failure.
Address health problems. Eating disorders can be fatal due to the long term complications associated with the unhealthy habits.
Make a long term treatment plan. This may include individual or group therapy, family therapy, nutritional counseling, medical monitoring, and residential treatment.
Other important things that you need to consider:
- Learn to make stress through self-help strategies.
- Don’t subject yourself to rigid eating rules. Replace them with healthier habits. Don’t label foods as good or bad. Food should be taken in moderation.
- Stick to your scheduled meal plan.
- Learn to love your body flaws and all. Think of all the positive things about your body and yourself.
- Contest your negative talk. If you find yourself talking negatively, negate the conversation and consciously start a positive talk.
- Dress for you and not for anybody else.
- Avoid weighing scale and measuring tapes.