Disordered eating or ED (Eating Disorder) can be a very difficult challenge to overcome. Before I explain to you how to prevent an Eating disorder (ED) or how to cope up with an ED, I would like to start by explaining what is an ED first.
Here’s an example to understand Eating Disorder
I am stuck at a weight.
My number on the scale doesn’t seem to go down over the past few weeks, months, or even years (in some cases).
Frustrated, I decide to go on a “low salt” + “fluid-based” diet plan to quickly drop a few Kgs over a span of few weeks, or in some cases- just a few days.
My diet DOES NOT include whole grains, vegetables, lean meats or pulses, and legumes.
I am starved from healthy wholesome fat sources, too.
Once, I achieve my target by dropping a few kgs over the weeks using this plan, I get back to my normal eating pattern.
And now, what am I facing?
I can’t stop eating. I don’t know how to stop.
I keep eating until I don’t want to puke. I keep eating until I am not fully bloated.
And all the while that I have been eating, I am guilty of what I am doing.
This continues for days, for weeks, and maybe for years.
Overeating or BINGING on certain days of the week following by compensating the next day via techniques such as undereating/starving/fasting, exercising beyond what I usually do.
I try to follow the old fad diet again…
On days I am starving- I am scared to consume food completely. Scared of ingredients used to make a dish, scared of consuming sugar without knowing- feeling guilty, resulting in binge eating. I consume a tsp of sugar (not allowed in my diet plan), and hence, I end up feeling I have screwed up my diet, hence I have frequent incidents of binge eating. By this time, I have gained a lot more weight then what I was initially.
The kind of behavior mentioned above is referred to as “binging” and “purging”.
You have a high chance of getting into disordered eating if you decide to restrict yourself “too” much on everything.
Or, even if there are dietary restrictions, there is nothing to fill in those left out voids in your current diet plan- making you more prone to ED.
One of the main and the biggest contributor to ED is a diet that leaves you hungry all the time. Hunger hormones perform very ineffectively once you catch the hole of an ED. Your body doesn’t know how and when to stop, and your mind makes you binge over and over again, compensating for the starved situations faced during following a fad/poorly designed diet plan.
Basically, you fall into a never-ending loop, at least that’s what it feels like in the initial few months, until and unless you seek help or treatment.
What else can cause Eating Disorder
There are several reasons to why one might get an Eating Disorder apart from just following a fad diet and these are:
- Body insecurity- a person who has been bullied or body shamed a lot in the past
- Body-conscious – a person who desires to stay at a particular body “weight” than even shape. They love to see the same number on the weighing machine every day. Such people even use laxatives to get rid of excess body water, poop, salts, etc.
- Not used to eating “bland” or “tasteless” food (good nutrition plans do not compromise on taste)
- Intends to give up too soon
Complications caused by Eating Disorders
It seems funny, too many people say, why overeating is such a serious issue? It’s just eating, binging after all. Eating Disorder can have serious complications, some of which are :
- Frequent forced vomiting, leading to electrolyte imbalance in the body, swollen salivary glands, blood in the vomit, etc.
- Chronic ailments such as heart disease, fatty liver
- Heart palpitations
How to Prevent Eating Disorder
Before we learn how to deal with an Eating Disorder, the best way is to prevent it. Here are some very important guidelines I believe can help you stay away from an ED
- Never opt for a diet plan that gives you false hopes. Always verify its source and ask for its scientific explanation or motives, never blindly follow any plan.
- Do not have unrealistic expectations. Fat loss and muscle gain both take considerable amount of time, and factors such as metabolic disorders contribute to the rate at which you might achieve it
- Never run away from working out, the main reason as to why people go on starvation and/or liquid-based diet because they are lazy
- Always plan your meals in advance. Make sure all the ingredients required in the meal are ready well in advance
- Don’t ignore even mild hunger. Eat your meals in prior if you feel hungry, and another small meal later. Built-up hunger overtime makes you overeat, which might leave you guilty letting you binge later.
- Always choose a nutrition plan that is feasible for you economically, availability of the ingredients, it’s convenience as per the eating pattern of your family members, etc.
Once you get an eating disorder, it might as well take years to get rid of it completely. Even more than 10 years in some cases. You have occasional binge eating sessions even after you “assume” you have gotten rid of it completely, that is how heavily it impacts your mind.
All in all, whenever you notice someone having even a mild form of anorexia or bulimia, make sure you take up the situation seriously and take him or her to a counselor. Advice from a medical practitioner should be considered.
We must prevent ED before it destroys the person mentally, and it’s difficult for him or her to deal with later on in life. ED comes in way of your social life, your private as well as professional life. It can leave a person isolated without anybody else noticing it. Yes, a fad diet can put you into serious complications. Let’s take a pledge to eat healthily and eat well- because it’s only water and food that makes you survive.