Eating Disoreders Essay, Research Paper
Analytic and Persuasive Writing
Eating Disorders are becoming commonplace in American society. Many factors are leading people into eating habits that are dangerous to their health. “The four main types of eating disorders are; Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia, Anorexia athletica, and Binge Eating” (Zerbe 2). A person who has one of these disorders is in risk of serious health problems which could eventually lead to death. Regonizing the warning signs and detecting the problems early are two ways the disorders can be treated and individuals can rehabilitate back to a normal life.
There are many causes of eating disorders. The factors can be biological, psychological, family factors, or social factors. Biologically a person who is suffering from an eating disorder may have been predetermined due to genetics. Certain personality types such as obsessive compulsive and sensitive avoidance can be vulnerable to eating disorders. People with an abnormal levels of brain chemicals can be at risk of getting a certain disorder. The level of brain chemicals leads the person to anxiety, perfectionism, and obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors. A person already displaying signs of an eating disorder such as bingeing, purging, and starving can alter the brain chemicals and prolong the disorder. People with eating disorders use food to medicate themselves from painful feelings and depressing moods.
A person with an eating disorder has psychological factors that are involved in the cause. The person may try to be a perfectionist. This is when one is never satisfied with their appearance and are always trying to look better. This may be unrealistic and yet they keep trying to accomplish the impossible. They view things as either everything is going good or it is going bad. They have succeeded or they have failed. There is never any room for failure. If they do fail, they may go back and look for food to help cheer them up. It’s a dangerous cycle that keeps going until they get help. They thrive to become as skinny as possible. They think of fat as being bad and the thinner the better no matter how unhealthy it may be. These behaviors can be used to avoid sexuality, while others use these behaviors to help find themselves and take control of their lives. These are usually strong people who display strength on the outside but inside they feel weak and powerless. They are in search of an identity to call their own. “They hide their anger on the inside because they fear the criticism that may be expressed if they state it”(Whitaker 120).
Family and social factors are two contributing reasons people have eating disorders. Some parents overvalue appearance and disregard what is really important. Character should be high on the list instead of outward appearance. This can create conflict, which most parents aren’t adept in resolving. They sometimes use critical comments that may result in the start of an eating disorder. Young people often time take things too seriously and cannot handle harsh criticism.
“TV, movies, and magazines are three examples of how the media flood people with messages about the advantages of being thin…Goodness, success, power, approval, popularity, admiration, intelligence, friends, and romantic relationships all require physical beauty in general and thinness in particular”(Anred).
Triggers are events that can lead a person to an event that the person doesn’t know how to handle. It can be anywhere from a childhood teasing too as serious as a rape. These events put the person at a place where they are confronted with a problem they don’t know how to solve by themselves, therefore they may alter their eating habits in order to feel better about themselves. “Triggers can come in all different ways, they may be starting a new school, beginning a new job, death, divorce, marriage, family problems, and graduation into a chaotic world”(Anred).
The four most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia, Binge eating disorder, and Anorexia athletica. A simple definition of each would be the relentless pursuit of happiness through weight loss. Each disorder does have different qualities that make the person afflicted unique. Anorexia nervosa can be defined with particular examples. A person displaying anorexia traits does not maintain a stable weight for their size and age. A woman that has Anorexia loses her menstrual cylce and men often experience a fall in sexual hormones.
A person with Anorexia will be in denial of a weight problem. They feel they are still fat and need to lose more weight. They are in constant fear of becoming fat and will do everything in their power to stay thin. As a result of these behaviors, the person becomes depressed, isolated, and irritated easily. They are not happy or content with their bodies.
A person with the disorder Bulimia will binge and purge. This is when a person will go for a long period of time without eating. When they do eventually eat, they eat uncontrollably and later vomit. This situation gets out of control and becomes addictive. Laxatives, vomiting, dirt pills and excessive exercise are common elements associated with bulimics. Behavior can change with this disorder. A person who usually is good may become promiscuous,abuse alcohol, and start shop lifting. Their self-esteem and worth drops to a very low level. Just like anorexics, bulimics hide feelings inside and don’t express their feelings in a normal way. As with most eating disorders bulimia can lead to death. Janine Antoni’s piece, gnaw is an example of bulimia: “I took the first bite and then whether I swallowed it or spit it out decided the meaning. When I spit it out, I knew I wanted to make the spit-out parts into something else. Then it occurred to me that this work was related to bulimia”(qtd. in Weintraub 126). Her work was spitting out food and not letting it into her body. Bulimics usually eat chocolate because of its high fat contents and later throw it up. This again is due to the fact that they fear they may become fat.
Binge eating is another popular disorder. Just like bulimics, people with this problem binge and purge their way to an unhealthy body. Their binges may be more intense than bulimics. Once they start eating, they can’t stop. They may consume insane amounts of food in one sitting. This is usually done in isolation due to the fact that affected people are ashamed of their behavior. They also become very defensive when confronted with the situation. Past failures in other diets may lead them into extreme measures in their pursuit of thinness. Being unrealistic is also common among these people. They may be genetically inclined to weigh more than others and it may be impossible for them to get to their ideal weight, therefore they turn to purging to look as thin as possible.
Anorexia athletica is a disorder that involves a compulsion to over exercise. This problem is rapidly rising in our country and is very commonplace. It involves athletes who try too hard to get where they want to be physically. They exercise excessively to the point of passing out. Their diet habits are extreme and consist of no fats and high proteins. These individuals may take time away from work or school just so they can work out longer. It’s all about how far they can push themselves to achieve the best look. Happiness and self worth is achieved from their accomplishments and performances. If they feel they are stronger or in better shape, then they feel good. If their performance fails and they did not achieve the desired weight, then they feel bad. This disorder is different than the others in that it deals more with men. The others were more dominated by women.
To help a person with an eating disorder you must try to identify the early warning signs. These signs can include food behaviors, appearance and body image behaviors, exercise behaviors, thoughts, feelings, and social behaviors. “Food behaviors may include skipping meals, takes only tiny portions, will not eat in front of other people, eats in ritualistic ways, and mixes strange food combinations. They may also spit mouthfuls of food out before swallowing. Shops for entire households but will not eat the meals. These people use excuses not to eat like just ate, is feeling ill, or is upset”(Anred). These behaviors are unlike someones usual patterns. Family and friends can easily detect the uncommon characteristics. The appearance and body image of the person may change. They might try to hide their body by wearing loose and baggy clothes. The person may constantly talk about how the size of their clothes keeps getting smaller. They may spend a lot of time in front of a mirror trying to see faults in appearance. A change in exercise behavior may arise. The time they spend in the gym may begin to become a compulsive act. They will always be tired, yet they will continue their routine until they can physically do no more. You may also be able to pick up different thought patterns by these people. Their logic and sense of reality is lost. They start to say things that may not make sense.
They find it hard to talk with others about their feelings. Commitment problems arise as they fear people will find out about them. This hurts the individual’s social life in many ways. It makes it hard to find friends and maintain friendships. They often become isolated from their family and make decisions that are later regretted.
Statistics help judge exactly where society stands on eating disorders and how we can help deal with these problems. ” Researchers found that about one percent of adolescent females have anorexia. They also found that about four percent of college females have bulimia. Only five-ten percent of people with anorexia and bulimia are males. Studies have shown that about half of adult Americans are overweight. About thirty-four percent are obese meaning that twenty percent or more are above normal healthy weight”(Anred). Without treatment, twenty percent of the affected people will die from these eating disorders. The number falls to three percent with treatment. Sixty percent of people with treatment will recover completely from the disorder. Even though they receive treatment, twenty percent will partially recover from eating disorders. The left over twenty percent will never recover even with treatment. They will keep their bad eating habits and eventually die because of it.
Without some kind of treatment, medical problems are sure to occur. Some examples of medical problems are: ” irregular heartbeat/cardiac arrest, kidney damage leading to death, liver damage made worse by abuse, destruction of teeth/rupture of esophagus, loss of muscle mass, disruption of menstrual cycle/infertility, weakened immune system, icy hands and feet, swollen glands in neck, excess hair on face/arms and body, dry blotchy skin, anemia/malnutrition, fainting spells, permanent loss of bone mass”(Berman). These medical problems can be avoided with early detection of a problem and immediate treatment in a clinic.
“Eating disorders are very treatable and can be cured. The treatment and recovery process can be difficult depending on severity of disorder” (Yates 25). It usually involves going to counseling to correct habits and talk about problems. If severe, they may need to go to a physician and be placed on a strict and monitored diet. Hospitalization is anothher option if they cannot become healthy or disciplined on their own. Support groups are helpful in breaking down isolation barriors and weaning back into society. Finally, family counseling helps afftected people change their old habits and create new and healthier ones.
Recovery is the process of maintaining the weight, which is normal for ones age and height. Staying with the basic food groups and eating regularly is essential. This will help regain good physical and mental health. Many will also regain relationships with family and friends. They may often go back to their original places of employment or become eager to begin new careers.
Ideally, people need to learn to like themselves and become less obsessed with outward appearances. Eating right and exercising are important in the process, but should not be taken to extremes.