BY RANDI CLARKE
We all know someone who is obsessed with how they look. Their hair, skin, makeup, nails, clothes, all of it. It all has to be perfect. This can be very dangerous, especially when it comes to their weight.
Some people have an unhealthy obsession to weigh a certain amount and to look a certain way. This causes them to become preoccupied with over-analyzing their food and calorie intake as well as their weight.
An eating disorder is defined as an abnormal eating habit that can involve excessive amounts of food intake or someone who is not eating enough food. This can damage a person’s physical and mental health.
The two most common forms are bulimia and anorexia nervosa, according to www.kidshealth.org. Bulimia nervosa is the act of binge eating and then purging or exercising excessively afterwards. Anorexia nervosa is an obsessive fear of gaining weight and having an unrealistic perception of body weight.
There are many different forms of an eating disorder. The ones that are currently recognized in the medical manuals (aside from the ones listed above) are; binge eating disorder (binge eating without purging afterwards), eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS – an eating disorder in which the person may still have anorexic thoughts but does not meet the criteria for anorexia or bulimia), and pica which involves eating, chewing or licking non-food items or foods containing no nutrition.
There are disorders that are not currently recognized in the medical field, according to www.wikipedia.com, such as compulsive overeating (eating more than necessary), purging disorder (purging to control weight or shape), rumination (regurgitation of food), diabulimia (a deliberate manipulation of insulin levels by diabetics), food maintenance (eating behaviours of children in foster care), night eating syndrome (an increased appetite for food at night), orthorexia nervosa (an obsession with avoiding unhealthy foods), drunkorexia (purposely restricting their food intake and calories in exchange for alcoholic calories) and pregorexia (extreme dieting and over-exercising in order to control your pregnancy weight gain).
The causes of eating disorders include biological, psychological, social and environmental abnormalities, according to www.ulifeline.org. People who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder can alter the way a person sees himself or herself. The media is often blamed due to the fact that they idealize the slim physical shape of people such as models and celebrities.
“The media totally influences people’s idea of what the perfect body weight is,” says high school teacher Maureen Lusty from Cambridge. “You look at the covers of magazines and see this person who has clear skin, perfect hair and the body to match. It’s not right. It’s not realistic.”
People tend to think that eating disorders are only found in teenage girls. However, the same disorder affects boys.
“Due to the fact that eating disorders are most associated with young girls, boys and people of an older age may think that they don’t have a disorder because they don’t fit the age bracket. That’s not true. Eating disorders affect all ages,” Lusty said.
If you or someone you know struggles from an eating disorder and wants to receive help, you can contact the National Eating Disorder Information Centre helpline toll-free at 1-866-633-4220. You can also visit www.thrivecyn.ca.