Many style-conscious people are not only concerned about the latest fashion and design trends. They’re also worried about the way they look.
Body image can be a source of stress for anyone, though, no matter their age, gender, or ethnic or cultural background. And that image can be even more stressful to manage when paired with an eating disorder, obesity, or binge-eating. More disturbingly, these conditions can be dangerous, even fatal.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders involve extreme obsessions with food, weight, and body image. Contrary to what some may believe, eating disorders are not a choice. Rather, they are serious diseases.
While science has yet to figure out what exactly causes eating disorders, the following may increase one’s risk:
- Having a first-degree relative with an eating disorder
Being in a cultural environment preoccupied with certain body ideals
Peer pressure, bullying, and physical and/or sexual abuse
Poor mental health, such as perfectionism, impulsivity, and trouble maintaining healthy relationships
This condition involves an obsessive preoccupation with being overweight. So, even though anorexics may be very underweight, they can still see the need to slim down further. As a result, their behavior includes severely limiting food, excessive exercising, using laxatives, and forced vomiting.
Other signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:
- An emaciated appearance (extreme thinness)
- Lanugo (the appearance of fine hair all over the body)
- Fatigue and similar feelings of sluggishness, lethargy, and weakness
- Feeling cold all the time
- Low blood pressure and a slow pulse
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among eating disorders. It can cause organ failure or death by starvation. Anorexics can also take their own lives.
People suffering from bulimia nervosa experience sudden episodes where they will eat an extremely large amount of food. They often feel out of control during these episodes. After over-eating, bulimics will compensate with laxatives, diuretics, forced vomiting, and excessive exercise.
- Be overweight, underweight, or normal weight
- Get inflamed throats, necks, and jaws
- Suffer from gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux
- Deal with severe dehydration and imbalanced electrolytes
- Have sensitive, decaying, and worn teeth
Bulimia nervosa can lead to serious health problems. For example, electrolyte imbalance can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Among Americans, the binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder. It’s similar to bulimia, but the episodes of over-eating are not compensated by food-limiting behaviors. So many binge-eating patients are overweight or obese.
Obesity brings along its own health problems, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Signs someone may have binge-eating disorder include the following:
- Consuming large amounts of food in a specific time frame
- Eating despite being full or not hungry
- Eating alone or in hiding
- Eating very quickly
- Feelings of shame and guilt
Left untreated, eating disorders can be serious. So if you feel you or someone you love is developing an eating disorder, find medical help.
There are several pharmaceutical drugs that may be helpful in treating eating disorders and obesity:
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®) has been used to stimulate appetite and weight gain in anorexic patients.
- Fluoxetine (PROZAC®), an antidepressant, has reduced binge-eating and vomiting in bulimic patients.
- Appetite suppressants can help binge-eating patients feel full quicker on smaller amounts of food.
As eating disorders can be quite serious, treatments like inpatient or outpatient programs and medications can quickly add up. Significantly more affordable medication can be found online at international and Canada pharmacy referral services like Canada Med Pharmacy, which ships drugs from licensed pharmacies outside the United States.
While these medications can be effective, if you have an eating disorder, you will need to do more than take medicine. People with obesity, for example, need to combine medications with a healthy diet and exercise, and anorexics should work on improving the relationship they have with their bodies.
Because eating disorders are strongly linked to mental health issues and body image, psychotherapies like the following can be useful in treating them:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy aims to change your actions and help you accept negative feelings like anxiety and stress.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy strives to change entrenched, distorted beliefs that are linked to harmful behaviors.
- Dialectical behavior therapy focuses on building new skills and changing behavior.
Remember, you can be stylish and beautiful no matter your body type.
If you’re a style guru, you may be aware that there are style hacks you can use to look and feel better. After all, plus-size models are still professional models making money off the way they look. And we’ve all seen the taller- or shorter-than-average person on the street strut about with wicked style!
Of course, eating and mental disorders are serious medical issues that deserve professional help. But learning more about how you can look and feel better based on the outfits and colors you choose does no harm. Just remember that no two bodies are alike, and that how you look on the outside doesn’t say anything about who you are in the inside.