What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are not a food problem, but a disturbed handling of the food. They range from indiscriminate, compulsive self-stopping of large amounts of food to refusal of any food intake. Eating disorders correspond to a pathological behavior during food intake. This behavior is an evasive behavior, a reaction to unsatisfactory living conditions, flight, helplessness, denial and silent protest, but at the same time resignation and adaptation.

Eating disorders on the rise

Eating disordered people are often subject to enormous suffering. This is often not taken seriously or seriously by the environment. About 85 percent of those affected are women. Increasingly, men and young girls are suffering as well. The literature increasingly refers to an association between obesity and eating disorders, in particular "restrained eating" and "binge eating".

Restrained Eating

"Restrained eating" describes a continuous, deliberate restriction of food intake for the purpose of weight loss or control. It can manifest itself in repeated slimming diets or in starvation. This behavior characterizes many normal and overweight people and has become a widespread part of everyday life for many people.

Some authors even speak of a "collective diet". The reasons for restrained food are manifold. Attitudes and values ​​play a big role.

However, study results show that restrained eaters generally weigh no less than those with normal eating habits. They also often suffer from eating disorders. Food psychologists are increasingly assuming that restrained eating leads to a loss of normal saturation regulation and thus can also promote the emergence and maintenance of pathological eating patterns, (anorexia, eating-crushing addiction and binge eating). It's clear that not everyone diets, gets lean, eating or breaking, but the roots of these misconduct are often dieting.

Anorexia (anorexia nervosa)

Central feature of anorexia nervosa is extremely restrained food. Those affected take very little calories; they are limited to small amounts of "allowed" and "good" food. In addition, many seek to maintain or maintain their weight through exaggerated physical activity, vomiting or intake of appetite suppressants, laxatives or drainage tablets.

Extremely braked food leads to a heavy weight loss. Despite the (for others) obvious underweight, the anorexics feel too fat. As a result of malnutrition and weight loss, metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature are reduced, mental and hormonal disorders (with amenorrhea as a consequence), mineral deficiencies, cardiac arrhythmias and indigestion.

Anorexia is a very serious condition. Ten percent of all anorexics die from their disease. Anorexia is much more prevalent in industrialized, over-abundant countries than in poor countries. Especially girls and young women are affected, whereby the frequency is estimated at 0.1 to 1 percent. According to estimates, one in seven adolescents is an anorexia risk case.

Ess-Brech-Addiction (bulimia)

This disease is characterized by repeated occurrence of eating or food cravings. The frequency of these binges, which consume larger amounts of high-energy foods, ranges from once a week to several times a day. In addition to uncontrollable, episodic seizures, the eating behavior of bulimia sufferers is characterized by severely restrained eating habits, regularly deliberately induced vomiting after a binge eating attack, and pathological fear of being fat.

Some sufferers - as with anorexia nervosa - are exercising excessively and using laxatives and dehydrators to maintain their weight. Bulimics are often normal or even overweight and are therefore not noticeable in their environment for a long time. Most of the time, in contrast to anorexia, there is a tremendous amount of suffering.

Bodily complications of bulimia are mainly caused by repeated vomiting:

  • Inflammation of the esophagus and salivary glands, due to the corrosive action of gastric acid
  • Mineral deficiency (electrolyte deficiency) due to increased loss via the secretion of gastric juice
  • Dental damage caused by hyperacidity in the mouth
  • Gastric ulcers due to overuse of the stomach
  • Cardiac arrhythmias due to conduction disturbances caused by a shift in electrolyte balance

Bulimia also affects mainly women. The frequency is difficult to determine. Probably the dark figure is very high. Depending on the study, numbers between 1 and 8 percent are mentioned.

Binge eating disorder, food addiction

The food addiction has been taken relatively late as pathological in the medical terminology. In this eating disorder - as with bulimia - tons of calories are consumed at once, but without vomiting this food again.

For fear of gaining weight or feeling guilty, dieting is strictly followed after such a binge, until the control mechanism collapses and a new attack occurs. Those affected are trapped in a vicious circle of food and starvation.

Because a binge is not as drastically counteracted as it is with bulimia, it often leads to overweight. According to American statistics, 30 percent of overweight people have this disorder.

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