How to know when bad eating habits become a disorder

eating disorder

We all skip breakfast from time to time or enjoy an occasional midnight snack, but these unhealthy habits can quickly become a serious health problem. It all starts with bad eating habits, such as cleaning your plate every time you eat, eating even when you’re not hungry or not eating enough, that may even pass unnoticed.

These seemingly unimportant habits can become a real eating disorder that poses a serious threat to your health and well-being. Therefore, it’s important that you recognise when your unhealthy nutrition habits start turning into an eating disorder and address the problem early on.

Bad eating habits

Whether it’s because of busy schedules or a desire to have the perfect body, many people forget about the importance of a healthy diet. Instead, they adopt a range of unhealthy eating habits, including skipping meals, constant snacking, eating too quickly, eating junk food, mindless eating, etc. At times, these habits don’t affect a person’s health or their image of themselves. On the other hand, some people consider food to be their greatest enemy standing between them and their ideal weight or the safety net they resort to when they feel vulnerable.

Simone De Beauvoir once said, “to lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself”. While some are able to deal with the issue of having a perfect body constructively by exercising and eating healthily, others resort to more drastic measures. Burdened by the image of the ideal self, some people believe they can lose weight by skipping meals and not eating or gain weight by eating too much or when they aren’t hungry.

Forgetting that “beauty starts in your head, not in your mirror, many individuals keep focusing on their small imperfections. While some continue with the “no eating” practice, others become overwhelmed by their flaws, finding comfort in food. Lacking enough willpower, support or strength to change their unhealthy eating habits, psychological instability in these individuals continues to grow and these seemingly unimportant habits become eating disorders.

Eating disorders

An eating disorder represents any of a range of psychological disorders characterised by abnormal eating habits. People with eating disorders are overly obsessed with food as well as their bodies.

There are three main and most common types of eating disorders – binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.

  1. Binge-eating disorder entails the loss of control over eating, and people suffering from this disorder are often obese and have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and similar health issues.
  2. Bulimia nervosa also entails binge-eating, but it’s followed by episodes of vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics and excessive exercise. Feeling dissatisfied with their bodies and being afraid of gaining weight, people suffering from bulimia nervosa often feel ashamed, guilty and not in control.
  3. Anorexia nervosa involves dieting, not eating enough and excessively exercising even to the point of starvation. Despite being underweight, people with anorexia believe that they are overweight and that they can never be skinny enough. This mental disorder has the highest mortality rate, resulting from suicide or complications related to starvation.

It’s important to understand that “eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, not lifestyle choices”, as Demi Lovato once said. People suffering from eating disorders often have other psychological and medical issues, like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, difficulties to deal with their emotions, etc. No one ever chooses to adopt an eating disorder, but such a problem gradually develops from unhealthy eating habits and is strengthened by a person’s psychological issues.

Someone once said “when you starve yourself, you feed your demons”, which can describe to some extent the state of mind of people with eating disorders are in. In their attempt to have the perfect body and achieve their ideal weight, these individuals resort to starvation, aggravating their health, but never feeling satisfied with the way they look.

The treatment of a person with an eating disorder entails a lot of willpower and requires a strong support from family members and friends. It’s important that a person takes certain measures to prevent the development of an eating disorder in the first place. A healthy diet, regular exercise and a healthy and positive environment play a crucial role in eliminating one’s unhealthy eating habits.

However, once a disorder develops, an early treatment is of the utmost importance. It’s vital that the person suffering from an eating disorder seeks professional help from a group of experts, including a psychologist, psychiatrist, nutritionist, their GP and a general internist who will prescribe adequate medication. In addition, family and friends of those who are facing eating disorders should consider counselling services, because the aim is to be supportive they will need back-up support, too.

Otherwise, the treatment won’t be as effective and may not show signs of improvement.

Unhealthy eating habits can quickly spiral into an eating disorder and become even lethal. Thus, it’s important that you try to eliminate your bad eating habits and address the issue as soon as possible.

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