Have you experienced waking up one day not being able to wear your old clothes or not being able to zip up your jeans? Or going to a homecoming party and the first thing an old friend noticed was your obvious weight gain?
Individuals that are born in the digital age are called Millennials, and experts like psychologists and sociologists believe they have different outlooks, life perspectives, challenges, and problems. One of which is the pressure to maintain the “ideal weight” that every person is suggesting, predominantly the social media stream. It is a given fact that the power of suggestion is highly influential. With this in thought, the pressure to maintain or attain the “ideal weight” can lead to serious mental problems such as eating disorders. Sadly, it becomes a vicious cycle (for some) of weight loss obsession, binge eating, or overcoming addiction for food.
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.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa is an example of an eating disorder that is very common among teenage girls and young adults alike. It is also considered to be an emotional disorder because these people have a distorted of body image idea and the extreme need to shed off weight, in which episodes of senseless overeating are followed by being overly depressed while force vomiting, purging, or not eating at all.
Bulimics, as they are called, are always preoccupied with their weight and food intake. However, with their preoccupation with food, bulimics are physically seen as normal, chubby for some but not overweight, and with a normal body mass index (BMI). So, it is sometimes hard to detect that they are suffering from an eating disorder. There are many tell-tale signs though on how to identify if the teenager is a candidate of bulimia nervosa.
Signs of Bulimia
Typically, they practice “binge and purge” activities. They will be binge-eating which occurs at late evenings and afterward, will purge through vomiting, use of enema and laxatives, excessive fasting, and exercise. One common observation is frequent trips to the bathroom right after a meal or the development of callus in their fingers. This is due to their behavior of inducing vomiting by gagging.
These behaviors can take up hours of time, so people who do them tend to isolate more, make excuses and turn down opportunities to spend time with friends and family — especially when the gatherings involve food — and wind up spending more and more time alone. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
Tips on How to Overcome Bulimia
To all parents: bulimia nervosa is a very serious and life-threatening condition if not addressed promptly. Here are some of the helpful step-by-step tips which can aid you in overcoming bulimia.
Self-awareness of the condition
First and foremost is acknowledging and gaining awareness of the condition. Examine yourself if you are currently dealing with a psychological or emotional trauma such as feelings of low self-esteem, anxiety or poor body image. You will need to admit that you cannot solve this problem on your own. The help of other people is needed such as your family and friends who will support you as you recover.
Know the Dangers of Bulimia
Second, remind yourself of the possible dangers of continuing binge eating and purging. Continuous binging and purging can result in a severe electrolyte and fluid imbalance that could lead to complications like dehydration and heart problems. Apart from the physical complications it may cause, a bulimic person has a co-morbidity of depression and is at high risk for suicide.
Seek Professional Help
Third, consult a professional mental health provider such as an eating disorder specialist. Your primary care physician will assess your condition and its effect to your overall body health. On the other hand, an eating disorder specialist will guide you through the psychological aspect of your condition. Engaging in therapy, to be able to gain control over body image issues and managing stress or response to trauma, will be very helpful.
Many people are surprised to learn that eating behaviors exist on a spectrum, and quite a broad one. — Dana Harron Psy.D.
Look at a brighter perspective
Lastly, change your beliefs regarding an ideal body weight based on what social media is promoting nowadays – start with more healthy choices. Instead of falling into the trap of current fads and trends as to how one should look like or what one should eat, develop a diet plan that suits your nutritional needs. Focus on your strengths and harness it.
It is said that body image issues and eating disorders are more common in pre-adolescents and young adults. With the number of concerns they are handling, they have the tendency to be oblivious and weak, more so they need to keep up with peer pressure. Therefore, it is vital that as adults, we should be observant and continue to monitor their behaviors. It is also important to establish open communication with them so we can educate and guide them through. We must continue to remind them that the numbers they see on the weighing scale do not define who they are. They have different aspects of life that they should focus on rather than limiting themselves as to how they should look and not considering the whole personhood.