These days, everyone wants to live healthier lives. You pay more attention to your diet, ensure adequate exercise and make sure that you are generally as healthy as possible. But what if you go too far? What if you cross the line between just living a healthy life or being so extremely focussed on food and exercise that it is no longer healthy? What does it mean to have Anorexia Nervosa?
Eating disorders are unfortunately more common than you think. During my time as a model, during my dance classes and other sports I’ve experienced many women (and men) that suffer from an eating disorder. It’s a mental illness that has to be taken serious. I know that some of my readers might suffer from an eating disorder, so I decided to write about it.Today I would like to talk about the most well-known eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder. Someone suffering from Anorexia Nervosa has a low and distorted self-image. They consider themselves to be bigger than they really are. They have a big fear of weight gain and they try to pursue un unhealthy body weight. Anorexia Nervosa can cause serious physical consequences and even lead to death.
The word Anorexia means decreased appetite. People with Anorexia Nervosa do have an appetite, however because they are starving themselves, they often suffer from hunger. A feeling that they ignore and suppress in the hopes of losing weight.
I do want to note that NOT ALL models or athletes have an eating disorder. Most of them work really hard to get and stay in shape by working out and consuming the right amount of foods to nourish their body.
Also, NOT every skinny person has an eating disorder. It is just as insulting to call someone too skinny as it is to call someone too fat! And not everyone with an eating disorder is skinny.
Why don’t they just eat?
Some people say “ Well, just force them to eat”, but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Anorexia Nervosa is a psychiatric illness and the cause is often much deeply layered than one might think. Developing an eating disorder can be caused by many different factors in someone’s life and those factors all need to be taken into consideration when helping someone recover from this illness. Some of the causes for someone to ultimately develop an eating disorder can be: images in the media, the urge to perform well, low self-esteem, depression, genetics or upbringing.
What are the effects?
Eating disorders are some of the most serious of mental illnesses and leads in some cases to death. It can affect someone on a social, physical and mental level. Here are some examples of how it can effect you.
1. More body hair and more hair loss.
Due to a lack of vitamins and minerals, the hair on your head can become thinner and fall out. However, because your body has less energy to keep you warm, you will grow more hair in other places such as on your arms, legs and back. This hair will literally work as a fur to give you the necessary body heat.
2. Skin Problems
Your skin could dry out due to a shortage of moisture, causing it to become flaky and pale. flakes. It’s a goodbye to beautiful, even skin.
3. Extreme Fatigue
If you don’t eat enough you won’t have enough energy to function. Food is fuel. And as a result, you won’t be able to fully function. Something as simple as getting up out of a chair can become quite the challenge.
4. Menstrual problems
When you don’t get enough nutrients, your body decides to conserve the little nutrients it has by shutting down functions that aren’t a first necessity; such as carrying a child. Therefore many women with Anorexia Nervosa will experience very little to no menstruation. In the long run this can affect your fertility and it can ultimately cause you to become infertile.
5. Stomach and intestinal problems
You may suffer from blockages, bloating or diarrhea. your body does not receive enough food, which means it will try to hold on to whatever food it gets as much as possible. Laxatives can damage your intestines severely and permanently, giving you a lifetime of intestinal problems.
6. Bone problems
When your bones don’t get enough nutrients to be strong, they will become more brittle and they’ll break more easily. You could also get joint problems faster and you can even risk bone loss.
7. Heart and vascular problems
Muscles will relax faster due to the poor supply of your blood. You can start to shake, be cold all the time and even faint. It’s very dangerous because your heart is also a muscle and when the heart muscle relaxes, which means that you can suddenly go into a cardiac arrest and die.
8. Psychological effects
Most people get a little grumpy when they get hungry (read: Hangry). This usually disappears once you have eaten something. People with Anorexia live with the feeling of hunger all the time. Can you imagine how they probably feel inside? They often have a bad mood, are more easily irritated, anxious and less able to concentrate. This could ultimately lead into depression.
9. Social effects
Eating disorders are lonely diseases. Someone with an eating disorder often tries to hide it out of fear for being discovered. As a result, they often isolate themselves, come up with excuses and try to avoid social occasions (especially when these are eating-events).
These are only a few examples of the many negative effects of Anorexia Nervosa. If you suspect that someone in your area has Anorexia Nervosa, try to be subtle about it. Carefully confront the person in question with this and ask them about it. As said before not every skinny person has an eating disorder, and asking about it can be very insulting! If you’re not sure how to handle the situation you can always involve a professional, for example a school counselor or a trustee at work.
What can you do?
Many people suffering from an eating disorder are ashamed of it. They know that what they’re doing isn’t healthy, but the fear of gaining weight is too overpowering. It can be compared with a compulsive disorder where you HAVE to do something even deep down you know it doesn’t make any sense.
Having an eating disorder is not something to be ashamed of and you CAN get help! There are many treatments available for people suffering with eating disorders. It doesn’t mean you have to gain a huge amount of weight all at once. However, these treatments will help you recover from your illness on many different levels so that you will eventually become healthy again. Ask your doctor what you can do and they will help you find the right treatment for your situation.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You CAN and you WILL overcome this if you get help. Asking for help is something to be proud of! You’re choosing a healthy long-lasting life. You’re choosing YOU! And that, is an amazing brave thing to do! You got this!