Horrific effects of eating disorders and how to prevent them
We have been brought up in an image conscious world, which calls on all of us especially the women to improve our body appearance. The messages you get from the media like T.V, radio, magazines and even posters include: get rid of body wrinkles, whiten your teeth, buy certain products and clothes and the most common of all, lose weight and you will be loved, admired and live happily. The recurrent debate on the stick thin fashion models and their healthy or otherwise unhealthy bodies in the world is a good example of how the society's notion of thinness is equal to happiness (Villapiano & Goodman, 2001, p.7)
Although most ladies would benefit from eating little amounts of food and doing more exercise in the attempt to improve their fitness and health, simply being conscious of what you consume is not an eating disorder. Eating disorders are illnesses which could be life threatening and are both psychological and physical in nature. According to Yates (1991), they are characterized by harmful and abnormal eating behaviors which are normally motivated and accompanied by unhealthy perceptions, beliefs and expectations about weight, eating and body shape (p. 10). A general characteristic about people with eating disorder is that they don't feel good and accept themselves the way they are. They normally think of themselves as being too fat and ugly because of the shape and size of their body even when the allegations are obviously false and incorrect. People with eating disorder tend to conclude that they are undesirable and unacceptable and because of this feel inadequate and very insecure especially about the sizes of their bodies. For them their only remedy is controlling what they eating and the amount of food they eat in their attempt to seek for thinness.
This speech is intended to provide you with enough information about the effects of eating disorders and better strategies of prevention. But first things first. If you are one of these people, you should know that you are not alone. About ten million Americans have bulimia or anorexia. Hopefully understanding that we have people who were once like you but have gotten better with proper treatment will give you some sense of encouragement and hope. One of the most difficult things of all is a lady admitting that she has an eating disorder. Let's now look at the effects of anorexia and bulimia (Menassa, 2004, p. 72).
Effects of anorexia and bulimia
Each of the two disorders is characterized by specific patterns of harmful eating traits. Generally, anorexia involves very severe restriction of eating with the attempt of losing weight. These people are normally underweight because of this restriction. They weight about 85% or below of the expected body weight for their gender and height. On the other hand bulimia is characterized by consuming too much food within a short time. According to Piran, Levine & Steiner (1999), behaviors that are aimed at getting rid of the excess calories consumed normally follow. Some of these behaviors include taking laxatives, vomiting, and doing a lot of exercises all these aimed at preventing gain in weight (p. 27). One would wonder why consume so much within a short time then struggle to get rid of whatever you have consumed at your own will. It is however not their own liking but if you ask most of them they will tell you it just happens.
These harmful eating behaviors can begin as isolated experiments but progress and become very chronic with time. They also become an everyday process that grows in intensity over time. Individuals with eating disorders who manage to control and restrict what they consume may have a feeling of accomplishment and empowerment for a short time. However these positive feeling s do not prevail for a long time. According to Villapiano & Goodman (2001), conflicts with other people, having a bad day at the work place or just reading a magazine or watching TV can trigger on feelings of disgust and self hatred and lead to consumption of more banned food (p. 29). Will power brake down leads to one feeling she is unacceptable and this motivates her to avoid food quite often. This cycle of dysfunctional eating traits create ready conditions for the eating disorder.
The effects of bulimia and anorexia surpass anything that most human beings realize. For instance besides the most obvious effect of losing a victim of anorexia with face more trouble in various other areas. These may include family problems, social problems and many more. So if anyone of you thought that the only effect of anorexia is mere thinness, you are mistaken. Pay good attention you will discover that this problem needs to be put to an end in its tracks. According to Villapiano & Goodman (2001), you may even get motivated to take that bold step of using the help of the costly expert to help you or any other family member that is suffering from this (p. 91). One of such bad effect that is not mostly recognized by people is the interference to the victim's social life. Imagine one being disgusted with her own body. This feeling is so bad that you could not even wish experiencing it. Such people tend to avoid being around other people because they don't feel conform table. They feel that someone is watching them even if there is no one doing so.
Since most ladies with this disorder will always be mindful of how they look before other people, they are antisocial in most cases so as not to entertain a lot of mingling with others who might be out to check out on them. This sort of thing can be very damaging to the relationship within the family or a girl's friendship. Anorexia disorder also comes with a lot of emotional problems within the victims. This first includes the feeling of being physically imperfect but later the thought grow much deeper and become even more disturbing than this (Yates, 1991, p.197). The thoughts makes the girl feel that she is worthless in comparison to other human beings and because of her little body, she is not a complete human being but just another piece of scum. The slope continues this way to much deeper depression and lowers her self esteem. From this illustration it's quite clear that anorexia is a very dangerous disorder that does not only affect the girls physically but also does a lot of harm to her mental stability.
Bulimia is characterized with eating like an ox. Ladies with this disorder eat so much within a short period of time and they seem out of control when doing it. Such binge eating is usually followed by vomiting so as to prevent adding of weight. The kind of food these people actually eat is so much. More than a normal human being can finish. Moreover the kind of foods eaten includes candy, and other foods of high calorie. Sometimes you walk into a restaurant and see a group of girls with so much food on the table. After a short time, all the food is over. Such quick eating even makes the individual painfully full. This also brings painful emotions which are preceded by stress, moods or even intense hunger because of restraints on the diet. However the effects of vomiting according to the victims are the fear of gaining weight and relieve from the discomfort they feel physically (Menassa, 2004, p. 103). They are also known for misusing diuretics and laxatives as well as doing too much exercise. On top of these the ladies with this disorder are fond of sleeping meals in the name of sliming. For instance at lunch time when their male colleagues go to work, you will notice that the female just go outside with a bottle of water or take nothing at all and yet they go back in the office after lunch time and continue with work till evening. Even though they might think that they are keeping weight, what they are actually doing is risking their body and life (Piran, Levine & Steiner 1991, p. 176).
As I mentioned before, individuals who have eating disorder are very much conscious about their weight. Quite often they are afraid of adding weight and their body size influences their self esteem. Such a fixation can lead to a distorted body image. The body image is all about how people feel about themselves and how they interpret their body images. This may come in two forms. One is how a lady may feel when she looks at herself in the mirror and secondly how she might feel when she remembers of how she looks. According to Yates (1991), ladies with eating disorders do not perceive themselves the way other people may look at them. Even when say a family member or a co-worker worries about how thin they look, they still feel they are too fat for life. In addition they also tend to be sensitive to what the society considers the acceptable perception of beauty or ideals of the society that can not be attained (p.74). They are actually fully aware that they cannot attain such standards and therefore look at themselves as letdowns of the society. In most times this feeling of being failures makes them work harder towards reducing their body sizes to fit the society's description of right body image. The drive to reduce weight can be so strong at times that some ladies end up abusing their bodies to an extent of even facing death. Lets give some extension to ways of preventing these eating disorders
Ways of preventing eating disorder
Since most of the eating disorders start when girls are in the adolescent stage, parents are at the best position of preventing the occurrence of these incidences. Its so fortunate that there are very many things which can be done to prevent eating disorders. One of the most efficient and capable of reaching most of the young girls is providing education regarding this via the internet. According to Menassa (2004), most of the youth nowadays spend most of their time on the internet. If this information can be presented through social cites like face book, then there is a guarantee that it will reach most girls (p. 12). It can however also be provided in person to sports organizations, schools and even clergy. By teaching about eating disorders, the effects can be easily identified at an early age and dealt with immediately so that they don't become severe.
Schools should have health classes to teach the youth on the importance of exercising, nutrition, recognizing the effects of hunger and even about the different body types that different people possess. They should also be provided with knowledge on critical thinking so that they don't just follow what they read on the internet or fashion magazines without a deeper thought. Teaching the young girls not to succumb to pressure from their peers on wanting to slim or look like models (Menassa, 2004, p. 132). Actually the best people to prevent this are the parents who should be role models to their children. We mothers who themselves want to slim or reduce their body size and this will influence their children. Again you will find that most parents buy a lot f junk food and keep it in the fridges. This gives them chance to consume more and they might get the bulimia disorder.
Eating disorders are very serious situations that should not be taken lightly as most young girls would what it to be. You should realize that they can cause very adverse effects not only on the physicality but also the mentality of the victims. Low self esteem that comes with this can develop and lead to even death. The parents and teachers should therefore be equipped with enough knowledge to be able to guide and council their children and students on the effects of eating disorders. Ladies, take good care of your bodies because they are temples of the lord. This is the time to change, don't wait for any other time.
Menassa, Beverly Neu. Preventing eating disorders among pre-teens girls: a step-by step guide. California: Greenwood publishing Group, 2004.
Piran, Niva., Levine, Michael, P., & Steiner-Adair, Catherine. Preventing eating disorders: a handbook of interventions and special challenges. Ken turkey: Psychology press, 1999.
Villapiano, mona & Goodman, Laura. J. Eating disorders: time for change. Ken turkey: Psychology press, 2001.
Yates, Alayne. Compulsive excersise and the eating disorder: towards an integrated theory of activity. Ken turkey: Psychology press, 1991.