Eating Disorders – Its Main Cause
Eating disorders, they involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviours—following rigid diets, gorging on food in secret. Like throwing up after meals or obsessively counting calories. But they are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, they involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.
People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.
Family problems, as some individuals with this problem come from disordered families. The families of anorexic patients are often characterized by extremely controlling parents and poor boundaries between the parents and child.
Most people who develop a problem report having painfully low self-esteem before the onset of their illness. Many patients describe going through a painful experience such as being teased about their appearance, being shunned, or going through a difficult break-up of a romantic relationship.
Major illness or injury can also result in an individual feeling extremely vulnerable or out of control. Anorexia and bulimia can be attempts to control or distract themselves from such trauma.
The one trait that is obviously apparent in all sufferers of an Eating Disorder is their low self-esteem. Often they feel as though they are not good enough, that they never do anything right, that they are scrutinized by others for their appearance, and that their lives would get better if they could just lose weight. Sufferers can feel like they do not deserve to be happy, that they do not deserve good things to happen to them, and that they don’t deserve to have anything but what is felt as a miserable existence. This can lead to over eating and purging.
It is widely understood that these usually affect women, although eating disorders in males are on the rise. Because women are affected more often, being female must be considered a risk factor that cannot be controlled.
This is one behavior that deserves special attention due to its profound effect on the development of this illness.
Research is always looking for ways in which genetics may make food problems more likely. What science is learning is intriguing.
Temperament seems to be, at least in part, genetically determined. Some personality types (obsessive compulsive and sensitive-avoidant, for example) are more vulnerable than others. New research suggests that genetic factors predispose some people to anxiety, perfectionism, and obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors. These people seem to have more than their share of food issues.
People with an eating disorder often are legitimately angry, but because they seek approval and fear criticism, they do not dare express that anger directly. They do not know how to express it in healthy ways. They turn it against themselves by starving or stuffing.
Westernized countries characterized by competitive striving for success, and in pockets of affluence in developing countries, women often experience unrealistic cultural demands for thinness. They respond by linking self-esteem to a weight disorder.