We attempt to unravel the darker side of a lifestyle disorder that’s eating the Contemporary Indian. When they say we’re a country of paradoxes, eating disorders are the latest on the list that’s grabbing eyeballs. “I’ve only had one chocolate tart in three days. I don’t get hungry;” “Every bite that my sister eats has to be weighed on the scale, calories counted and fat grams checked;” “If I don’t eat for a whole day then I’ll shrink a little and then I can fit into that dress for tomorrow’s party…” In the urban scenario, it’s hard to miss these voices. Eating disorders are not a far cry from the West. The numbers are growing, and it’s a reality in today’s India. While many are acquainted with anorexia and bulimia, other unheard of disorders such as drunkorexia, compulsive exercising too are making their way to the dreaded list.
Who is often a victim of eating disorders?
Eating disorders can affect anyone –– men and women, both young and old, and from any economic background. It’s not always a ‘slimmer’s disease’, as it can even affect sportspersons at the peak of their fitness levels and careers. It’s a disorder of the mind for many. Sometimes, stress, huge expectations to stay on the top, and be successful at all times could also trigger the disorder. People exploring their sexuality too are prone to this.
Causes for anorexia
- Low self-esteem
- Social and cultural pressures
- Family environment
- Genetic predisposition
- Illnesses like arthritis, colitis, kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver
- Advanced alcoholism and drug addiction
- Deficiency of vitamins A, B1, B3 & C
- Obsessive about calorie intake
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Excessive exercising
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness or fainting
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Shortness of breath
- Hair loss
- Constipation and feeling cold
- Body weight that is inconsistent with age
- Build and height (15 per cent below normal)
- Loss of at least 3 consecutive menstrual periods (in women)
- Bulimics can be overweight or underweight, unlike anorexics who are always underweight
- Bulimic age range is from teens to mid-30s
- Periodic episodes of excessive eating or binging, depression, seclusion, and a feeling of shame after binging
- You might be bulimic, if you…Eat much more than others and can consume large amounts of food in one
- Hold an intense obsession with yourbody weight and appearance
- Find yourself misusing laxatives, fast-ing, and indulging in excessive exercise
- Binge and purge frequently
What should a bulimic do?
- Get psychiatric help
- Pay a visit to the doctor
- Talk to somebody. It could be anybody whom he/she trusts
- Read about the condition, knowing what’s wrong will help feel better
- Instead of binging on food, one should try to write a journal and record his/her feelings. This will help let off some steam!
Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Beyond bulimia and anorexia, there is the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anyone diagnosed with this disorder, exceeds the normal exercise requirements and is absolutely fanatical about everyday diet and weight to the extent of bunking classes or getting off work early to exercise.
All workout efforts are, however, considered completely dissatisfactory and one ends up pushing oneself to achieve more difficult challenges, often missing out on the fun element in physical activity.
Night-eating syndrome: Anyone diagnosed with this disorder has no appetite for breakfast and delays the first meal of the day by several hours, and is instead preoccupied with how many calories were consumed the previous night at dinner. Most of this person’s calorific intake is done later in the day or only at night.
Psychotherapy: It can be used to improve the self image of the person and to deal with the psychological problems causing these eating disorders.
Nutritional therapy: This can help the person to take a proper diet to gain or maintain the required amount of weight.
Medications: These are not very helpful in curing anorexia but can be used to treat related symptoms to a certain extent.
Hospitalisation: In case of dangerously thin people, hospitalisation might be required to monitor their health and bring them back to a healthy state.
Alternative therapy: Alternative therapy such as hypnotherapy, homeopathy, art, aromatherapy, acupuncture,acupressure,meditation, yoga and reflexology, besides counselling and other treatments are equally effective.
- Having a positive self-image
- Healthy view towards food
- Realistic view of physical Appearance
- Staying active