Eating disorders in common life - anorexia

Have you ever met someone with some kind of an eating disorder? Do you know someone who´s "a little too much into losing weight"? Read our article by Sona Kolcun. This time about anorexia. 

You´ve probably all met a person who was “a little too much into losing weight”. Anorexia is a usual problem among teenagers nowadays. It can be caused by a big trauma that the person´s been through or they have the feeling of being very fat and ugly, which leads them to the rapid weightloss. It also happens to the athletes that want to see results of exercising very fast.

What is anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is a mental disorder, those who suffer from anorexia often refuse to eat, are obsessed with reducing bodyfat, even if they are in obvious underweight. They often have feeling that they are very fat and keep different strict and irrational diets. People suffering from this disorder are mostly teenage girls, but we also know about cases including adult women and even men. Anorexia nervosa is classified as reducing bodyweight to 15% of approximal weight according to the one´s height, age and physique (BMI is lower than 17.5). There is also another type of anorexia called anorexia athletica- for people suffering from this kind of disorder is characteristic underweight achieved by excessive and compulsive exercise. This type is not formally recognized by standard mental health diagnostic manuals, however, the term is used to name a person with some kind of eating disorder, using also an excessive, compulsive training to lose weight.

How to know that someone is suffering from anorexia?

  • he/she has lost a lot of weight in a short period of time
  • he/she refuses to eat with other people
  • he/she avoids food, eats just specific meals, but often speaks about food
  • he/she has a permanent need of comparing with others
  • he/she refuses to take a compliment, hates touch
  • he/she hates his/her body, often speaks about how skinny other people are
  • he/she becomes less communicative, loses friends, suffers from depressions

How does anorexia affect your body?

When you´re suffering from anorexia, it´s not just in your head and not everything about the disorder is psychical. Anorexia affects your whole body. When suffering from anorexia, your hair gets brittle and so do nails, your skin is dry and you can get cold very easily. Your bones are affected too, they get weaker and it leads to osteoporosis.
We can often hear about weak muscles, bad condition of joints and problems with heart (such as slow heart rate, low blood pressure). If you´re suffering from this disorder, amounts of sodium, potassium and magnesium in your body are probably very low. When talking about women, they often lose their period and have trouble getting pregnant.

How to cure anorexia?

If you know about someone who suffers from anorexia, its on point to gently and kindly talk to the person and admit that they have a problem. There is a high chance of the sufferer refusing the helping hand and that’s mostly because the sufferers don´t feel like they need some kind of professional help. People who have anorexia must admit that they have a problem, otherwise the recovery often doesn´t start before hospitalization.
However, people who suffer from anorexia are often lonely and cut themselves off from society. If you know someone who may be suffering from anorexia, you should give him/her the feeling of being loved and talk to them. If they trust you and have a strong bond with you, it´s more likely that they´ll tell you about the problem they have. People who suffer from this mental disorder should stay away from places and other people that make them hate their bodies. If you have someone who may be suffering from anorexia around, try to take them to the places, where they will relax and won´t think about bad feelings. It´s also good to gently suggest seeking a professional help.

A few recovery (or prevent) tips:

  • Understand a difference between healthy diet and anorexia. Don´t focus on losing majority of your weight, focus on being healthier, fitter and take care of your body. Set small goals.
  • Learn to love your body. It´s yours and only you can decide about the changes that will happen. If you keep a strict diet, it´s not only bad for your mind, but your body suffers too. Becoming fitter or healthier is a slow process and it won´t happen overnight and understanding your body and loving it is an important part of it. Don´t change because you hate your body. Change because you love it.
  • Remember that you are loved. Try to make new friends, get in touch with your current friends and don´t cut yourself off from society.
  • Focus on positive things and aspects of your life. Don´t catastrophize, don’t take the worst scenario as the only possible. It´s not all that bad. Your life is full of good people and good things happen all around you. Just accept the positivity in your life.
  • Food is not an enemy. It´s okay to eat. You don´t have to eat big portions or eat absolutely everything (we´re all humans and not everybody will find everything tasty). Eat good and quality food, which is a fuel for your body and it needs all the macronutrients to work correctly.
  • There is always a healthy way. In everything. In losing weight, in changing your diet, in solving problems and in dealing with difficulties in your life too. Remember that anorexia won´t help you with your problems.

Anorexia and exercising

When recovering from this disorder, exercise is a recommended way to help the physique and mental health of a sufferer in recover. The goal here is clear- gain some weight, help muscles and bones to get stronger. Group exercises, such as yoga or team sports are recommended. Even when the goal is not to lose weight, in recovery are often used sports as running, swimming or lifting weights in a gym. There are also cases of famous sportsmen (for example jockey Laffit Pincay or swimmer Franziska van Almsick) who have suffered from an eating disorder and claim sport to be an effective way to deal with eating disorder.


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