Eating problems usually start with a “healthy lifestyle”. They end with broken relationships and an identity questioned for life.
Why is it happening ?
Eating disorders (EDs) are illnesses of irregular eating habits and an overwhelming concern with one’s weight and shape. They can include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, and distorted body image disorders. Eating disorders affect 1 in 5 women. Although females are ten times more likely to suffer from anorexia or bulimia, EDs are also becoming more common among young males. The reasons of the problems are many—they can originate from emotional distress, social pressures, family issues, and false beauty images propagated by social media and the beauty industry. But what is common in most cases is the strife for one thing: control. People, and young people in particular, turn to drastic measures to change their eating habits when they feel the need to take control of their lives. Strictly limiting one’s diet brings a certain sense of consciousness that no one can take away. Naturally human bodies cannot suffer starvation for long, hence they burst out in binge eating or occasional large meals which results in immeasurable guilt and self-punishment. Binge eating is usually followed by even more ascetic behavior and minimal food intake. These surges impair the digestive system, the teeth, and the skin, reduce fertility, and manipulate body temperature.
Why does it matter?
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. It is especially prevalent among the youth which makes Millennials a generation capable and willing to do unnecessary harm to themselves. Both psychological and social implications are grave. Apart from the obvious physical damage EDs cause, they block otherwise lively and powerful Millennials from studying, working, and managing their personal life effectively. They lose focus of important duties because their mind is constantly occupied with food, losing weight, exercise, and body image. This drives them to systematically lie to those close to them which obviously strains all kinds of human relationships and cause serious distress for their environment. Millennials suffering from EDs are like hollow bodies losing interest in reality, leaving confounded loved ones behind.The problem is that even if caught in time, eating disorders with young people are very hard to handle, let alone stop. If relatives and friends start mentioning that they are too thin that only acknowledges their achievements and they will feel accomplished and invigorated to continue on this path. This way, attempts to call for ending starvation just encourage it further. Similarly, if relatives start pressuring them to eat more or control their habits, it can incite stronger opposition and rebel against parental authority. Direct efforts to point out and try to end eating disorders are usually in vain and only worsen the situation.
What can you do about it?
As prevention is always the best cure, parents should introduce healthy and balanced regimes to their children from an early age. EDs are usually about breaking out from one extreme to the other. Hence, if one’s body and mind about food is balanced, one will be less likely to feel the need for extreme changes.Exercise is yet another form of prevention and treatment. Although excessive exercise can be a symptom of eating disorders, it does not necessarily supplement starvation. Regular workout of any form improves basic well being and incites a healthy desire for proper nutrition. It is an undeniable fact of life that sports and arts enhance discipline, respect, devotion, and humbleness, and help build a resilient personality better capable of coping with changes and challenges. The youth should never feel insecure in their identity or out of control. It is our responsibility to help and support one another, creating channels to find and advocate every unique identity. B-eat is the charity beating eating disorders in the UK. Eating Disorder Hope is a US based organization where one can find information and resources for sufferers and their relatives to pursue recovery .
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Bogi Bozsogi briefs regularly from Budapest, Hungary. She is a candidate for a Master in Arts in International Relations with a focus on Security Studies