Eating disorders, including among others bulimia, anorexia or orthorexia, are more frequent phenomena in our society than everyone thinks.
So how do you notice the problem and help a person from a close environment to prevent the dramatic consequences of such a behavior?
The fact is that puberty is a key moment in a person’s life, where they begin to be an individual. There are many changes in the human body and even more in the psyche. Young people face challenges that some can not cope with. Expectations, however, are constantly growing, peers, teachers, family, one feel a lot of… pressure.
And then relief comes. The domain of life they control, are in control, they are perfect. Yet, adding opinions from the outside that they look much better without those few kilograms, will confirm them in this destructive decision. The problem is how to stop the machine, which gives fulfillment and pleasure, and at the same time drastically harms health? At this point, external help is often necessary. Patient’s life may depend on someone who sees the first symptoms, the first dangerous behavior. Then they should act, report to the caregivers, encourage to visit specialists. However, it is not so easy to see the problem. People with eating disorders are masters of camouflage – hiding food in their hair, pockets, drawers, vomiting without any sound, unfortunately these things are not difficult for them.
In the case of anorexia, not eating can give freedom that is missing in person’s everyday life. It can be a cry for attention, a desire to merge a disintegrating family, reflect a diminished self-esteem. It is often the result of a family situation, conflicts, lack of acceptance, strict environment. Such people are characterised by perfectionism, striving for the ideal, extensive, meticulous, but unfortunately not rational knowledge about nutrition, – a person with anorexia will know the exact calorific value of each product on the table. However, one will not see them in a public place with food, during a meal together they will cleverly avoid eating, which their companion may not even notice.
Compensation activities in bulimia, or inducing vomiting after eating a meal, may be caused by remorse and not coping with emotions. This person will binge eat as a result of sorrows, bad emotions, and after such an incident they will feel a strong need to cleanse their body. Often, such people believe that if the food does not reach the stomach or intestines, it will not be digested, so they will not get fat, which is equal to a double win. What could be the threat here? The withdrawal of gastric contents into the esophagus and mouth can cause ulcerations, tumors of this part of the digestive system. People suffering from bulimia have often had hard times in the past, could have been abused, abandoned, may not have a sense of belonging to a social group. They can suffer from depression.
In both cases there is a solution – return to harmony with your own psyche and body. This is a great challenge for the patient and his relatives. It is often necessary to undertake therapy, treatment, meeting with a psychologist, a psychotherapist, a GP. It is also advisable to go to a professional dietitian who, while working with a person with eating disorders, will set a healthy diet plan adapted to the patient’s ability, will also try to change their way of thinking about food.
The sooner the treatment is undertaken, the better the chance of getting better. That is why it is so important not to miss the first signs of disorders amongst young people.
Here is a list of dangerous behaviours, which should be closely watched and properly acted upon:
- Avoiding joint meals
- Avoiding eating in public places
- Knowledge about the exact calorie content of many food products
- Excessive, unjustified physical activity
- Not eating, hiding food
- Disappearing in the bathroom after eating a meal
- Eating a lot of food at once
- Constant loss of weight, protruding bones
- The skin becomes earthy, the hair noticeably falls out, the nails are in poor condition
- Wearing several layers of clothes
- Constant sadness, visible fatigue
- Avoiding showing your own body
- Having laxatives
- Enamel destruction and discoloration (as a side effect of continuous vomiting)
How many cases are out there of people with an eating disorder that nobody knows about… Let us not be indifferent and blind. Observe, look after our loved ones, let’s not forget the facts, this can happen to anyone!