Eating disorder can simply be described as a disorder that encompasses insufficient or excessive intake of food and extreme concern for body size and weight.
An eating disorder has a way of destroying the well-being of an individual if not properly checked.
Eating Disorders Explained
An eating disorder is a mental disorder associated with abnormal eating habits that affects
the health negatively. Eating disorders affect both men and women. Research has shown that eating disorders are more predominant among dancers, models and those in a profession that requires keeping a slim body. Also those that have been abused sexually may experience depression which could result in an eating disorder.
There are three major types of eating disorder: Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating disorder and Bulimia Nervosa.
Anorexia Nervosa: A person is said to have Anorexia Nervosa if he or she is overly conscious of weight gain even when it is so obvious that the person is underweight. This makes them not eat well and as a result could lead to brain damage, failure of organs and other sicknesses which, if not controlled, could lead to death. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all the types of mental disorders.
Binge Eating Disorder: Binge eating disorder has to do with excessive eating. Sufferers of this type of eating disorder often lose control of their eating habit and may end up becoming obese if not properly controlled.
Bulimia Nervosa: This eating disorder is associated with excessive eating after which the person looks for ways to remove the food. Some of them force themselves to vomit, others might use laxatives while the rest get into excessive exercise. They most times feel guilty and are prone to having gastrointestinal issues and heart problems.
Causes of Eating Disorders
The exact cause of eating disorders is yet to be confirmed. However, there are a number of factors that are suspected to trigger eating disorder.
Environmental factors: Research has shown that a number of environmental issues can lead to eating disorders. Certain professions that require a slim physique, child abuse, pressure from peer groups or life challenges can all trigger eating disorders.
Psychological factors: Poor self-esteem and abuse can also result in an eating disorder.
Biological factors: Abnormal hormonal functions, physical differences and insufficient nutrients can also result in eating disorders.
Eating disorder can also be passed on genetically.
Symptoms Associated with Eating Disorders
- Excessive dieting even when it is obvious that one is underweight
- Avoidance of social functions because of body size
- Excessive intake of food
- Excessive weight loss
Natural Supplements To Help Eating Disorders
Controlling an eating disorder requires time, patience and proper planning. The body has to readjust to a new diet. Natural and nutritional supplements together with psychological therapies remains the best approach to controlling eating disorders.
Some basic elements that are most often deficient in people with eating disorder and therefore need to be supplemented using either supplements or natural means are discussed below.
Serotonin: Serotonin is a messenger of the brain that reduces hunger and gives a feeling of relaxation. Serotonin is derived from the amino acid L-tryptophan. Because most diets lack tryptophan, it has the high percentage of being the first nutrient someone watching his or her weight can become deficient in. When there is a drop in your level of Serotonin, you tend to have low self-esteem, depression and even want to diet more. The natural supplement 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin and can help raise the level of serotonin in the brain.
Potassium: Potassium, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, kidneys and other organs, is often deficient in people with eating disorders. It is recommended that they take potassium supplements or try to incorporate foods high in potassium into their diet.
Vitamins: Because most people with eating disorders restrict what they eat, the might be deficient in many important vitamins. The best way to ensure you are getting adequate vitamins is by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables but if this is not happening then it is important to supplement with a high quality Multi Vitamin such as our Men’s or Women’s Multi from Megafood.
Zinc: Deficiency of zinc causes weight loss, loss of appetite, decrease in smell and taste buds and dry skin. We all need zinc and restriction of food intake may result in deficiency in zinc. The best way to go about this is to take zinc supplements and foods rich in zinc.
Calcium: Calcium deficiency is very common in people with eating disorders and can lead to problems with bones and teeth. Supplementing with a good Calcium source is essential.
Omega-3: Omega3 fat is used in the treatment of depression. It has also been proven to help control eating disorders. It is needed for the proper functioning of the brain. It helps to increase sensitivity of insulin and glucose tolerance which is of high importance to obese eating disorder sufferers.
Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria supplements that aid digestion. Since eating disorder sufferers are prone to diarrhea and constipation, intake of probiotic supplements will be of great help to them.
Apart from nutritional supplements, there are a number of holistic lifestyle changes that can help control eating disorders.
Cognitive analytic therapy: Cognitive analytic therapist will work with a sufferer of an eating disorder in a friendly way to help the person understand to the abnormal behaviour. Once the person recognizes their problem they can now work towards reforming their eating habit. They also need to work on their perceptions, the therapist will help them change their way of thinking. This is because most eating disorder patients think of themselves as being either overweight or underweight or having an unusual body shape. If they are made to change their way of thinking, it will go a long way in helping them.
Balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet is not negotiable for a healthy life. It is of paramount importance that people with eating disorders consume a balanced diet always to nourish and replenish the body.
People with eating disorders also need love and support from family members and friends to help them overcome this disorder. If they are constantly abused because of their body size, it will affect their self-esteem and thereby make the situation worse.
Weight management, psychological therapies and interpersonal therapies can also be used to help control eating disorders.