Crippled By Eating Disorders

Skinny blonde woman posing with a pink bikini near a rocky cave

When Food Starts Controlling You

Food is the building block of all creation; without it, we would not be considered living organisms. We’d be bacteria or viruses who complexly rely on infecting the cells of other living organisms. But were far from that, because God gave us intelligence and the ability to tastefully enjoy something called “food.”

There is no identified reason as to why some people develop eating disorders such as rumination disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder or binge eating disorder. Until more information is discovered on a neurochemical level, we can only study the behavioral patterns of those affected by eating disorders.

The majority of patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa are young, ambitious and perfectionistic females. Think of those who excel in ballerina or other competitive sports and also consistently receive straight As throughout school. They become obsessed with the idea of maintaining a certain weight and image.

At a certain point, they end up crossing an invisible line into a pathological, perfectionistic state of mind centered around weight loss and self-image. When they look into the mirror, their perception becomes distorted: rather than viewing a beautifully fit young girl, they literally see more weight on themselves than is actually there.

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder: more weight means more effort required to lose it. So they either start to purge, which is vomiting immediately after meals or even when not eating meals, or restrict. Restricting means that they take in significantly less calories per day, to the point of becoming pathologically unhealthy.

Over time, they begin to lose dramatic weight but also develop medical complications such as: low potassium, dental erosions, anemia, arrhythmias, amenorrhea, bone loss, etc. Anyone who is suffering from this disorder cannot possibly be happy! So here comes depression, anxiety and substance abuse; in particular, alcohol and cigarettes which help take away the appetite!

When food starts controlling a person rather than the other way around, the person is being consumed by the food! The food is literally slowly devouring the person over time, to the point of when the person is becoming the meal for the food. Sooner or later, a meal always comes to an end in two ways: it’s either finished after the last piece is consumed or it’s thrown away.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Binge Eating Disorder

Cheeseburger and french fries on a white plate

Consumed By Food

Imagine eating large quantities of food at a time without the ability or control to stop yourself. It’s as if your brain is on autopilot and instructing you to keep eating despite not feeling hungry; you become shackled to food. Your self-esteem plummets and the pattern repeats itself.

Binge eating disorder is a severe eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food. People with BED eat very quickly and to the point of great discomfort. They also feel as if they have no control during their binge; all they can do in that moment is eat away.

The binge is followed by shame, guilt and emotional distress. Binge eating disorder is unlike anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, in that no compensatory purging or use of laxatives or diuretics are used to counter the binge. This disorder usually occurs in people who are emotionally distressed or fragile, but it is not clear why or how it occurs.

It is the most common eating disorder in the United States! People with BED will consume an amount of food within a discrete period of time that is much larger than what most people would eat under the same circumstances. For instance, a person with BED cannot stop eating during a binge, but an obese person without BED will stop after their regular portion.

People with BED:

  • Eat much more rapidly than normal
  • Eat until they feel uncomfortably full
  • Eat when not hungry
  • Eat alone because they feel embarrassed in front of others

The binge occurs at least once a week for three months. People with BED often experience distress regarding their binges; this can progress to a low self-esteem, insecurity and even depression. They may even develop a fear of eating in public or with others because of the uncertainty of when they may experience a binge.

Some other behavioral or physical signs of BED that can be observed include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and/or activities
  • Dieting
  • Hoarding food
  • Adopting food fads
  • Evidence of lots of empty wrappers and containers
  • Concern with body weight
  • Disruption in normal eating behaviors and patterns
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux

Most people with BED are clinically obese, but most people with obesity do not have BED! It can be diagnosed at any weight, but most tend to have a normal or higher-than-average weight. Treatment includes cognitive behavioral therapy, lisdexamfetamine (a stimulant), topiramate (an anticonvulsant) or antidepressants.

If you suspect anyone suffering from binge eating disorder, do not leave them to wither away in the dark. Be understanding of their experience and offer them support, guidance and help in a nonjudgmental way!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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