Food is not just for meeting appetites but it is always more than that. Sometimes it is about happiness while other times it is about the catharsis of you’re out of sorts feelings. You scored an A grade result or got a job, it’s a celebration or a formal event, or you are sad and down, food is the best therapy for everything. It is a known fact that excess of everything is bad, similarly, overeating or under eating leads to a group of diseases called eating disorders.

What are eating disorders?

An eating disorder is a variety of conditions that include unhealthy eating habits to develop due to psychological or emotional disturbances.

Normally, they are classified into 3 main categories

  • Restriction patterns also called anorexia
  • Binge eating order
  • Binging with compensation called bulimia

These are mental health markers which affect people of all age and gender.

Eating disorder symptoms include a wide range like malnutrition, under weight, obese and many others depending on the type of disorder present. 

Causes of eating disorders:

These habits are linked with a variety of factors which produce such abnormal eating patterns.

  • Genetic causes
  • Personality traits like impulsiveness, neuroticism and perfectionism
  • Cultural preferences to thin body

These are some of the causes of eating disorders but mental and psychological disturbances one experiences play a large part. Studies prove that irregular eating habits correspond to the emotional disturbances one is facing and eating disorders are our failed attempt to counterbalance them.

 A psychologist sharing her experience with her clients told us that clients mostly share their feeling “as something was missing in them which they try to fill with food” or the “feeling of emptiness was being filled unconsciously by them”.

This is one way of seeing the side but it is definitely different from patient to patient. Every kind of disorder links with its own set of emotions. Eating disorder symptoms also vary accordingly then. And the question “How to stay healthy?” becomes difficult to answer.

Restriction disorders:

Restriction disorders also known as anorexia nervosa is a condition in which the person views himself as overweight where as in reality they are severely underweight and malnourished.

This affects women more as compared to men and is an adolescence problem affecting young adults more often.

Anorexia nervosa generally associates with low self-esteem and a feeling of being unworthy and not good enough for anything. Reducing or losing weight feels like an achievement for them and it feels like a way for them to elevate their self esteem.

Some other factors may also be held responsible like

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder for having a perfect body shape
  • Depression
  • To combat anxiety
  • To cause self harm for any underlying cause

Binge eating disorder:

One of the eating disorders which are prevailing rapidly nowadays is binge eating disorder. It is most common in adult people.

Binge eating disorder is defined as a non stop urge to consume food in large quantities and inability to stop eating and loss of control.

This disorder has a strong emotional correlation with a variety of emotions. Studies have shown increased occurrence of binge eating with

  • Guilt, shame, and embarrassment for yourself
  • Feelings of disgusts one might have experienced
  • Some people try to combat their depression and anxiety with binge eating food.
  • Others find this as a way to deal with their negative emotions
  • At times, traumatic situations also cause binge eating.
  •  Binge eating also links with a coping mechanism for stress and tension.

Binge eating was first recognized as Night Eating Syndrome (NES) but later on this behavior was observed even without nocturnal evidence which led this to be called as Binge eating syndrome.

This causes a wide range of eating disorder symptoms like obesity, overweight and may trigger further problems linked with obesity.

Binge compensation:

Binge eating at times is linked with compensations like self induced vomiting and purgation. This is medically known as Bulimia Nervosa. 

It is because of the factors similar to binge eating disorder but also includes the fear of being fat or overweight which leads them to have compensatory mechanisms to counter the calories they have consumed.

Common counter mechanisms include fasting, vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics or excessive exercises.

 The surprising side: PICA

Not generally classified as emotionally disturbing eating disorder, Pica is one of the common eating disorders.

It is due to eating unhealthy, nonfood substances like ice, chalk, soil, cotton, hair, or paper. It occurs as a result of craving which could be due to multiple causes both biological and physical. The emotional triggers could include

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Negative thoughts which demand comforting foods
  • Mood swings
  • Personality traits

The eating disorder symptoms generally depend on the type of substance to consume. If not stopped timely, this could be fatal.

How to stay healthy?

One thing to keep in mind is that these disorders cannot be treated symptomatically but therapeutic interventions are more important to bring a stop to them. You have to take an important look at the causes of eating disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapies and interpersonal diaries also help a lot. Since emotional build-up is the main cause of such disorders, psychiatric therapies to combat their emotional buildup is one of the main steps in staying healthy. It helps to remove the underlined triggering factors and balance the emotional with a healthy diet. This is the only answer to how to stay healthy with emotional eating disorders.