Stress and Eating disorders are one of the most common problems of 21st-century society. Stress is the precursor of binge-eating food or binge-watching a program from Netflix. We have different tendencies when we are dealing with stress and Stress Eating is one of them.
You probably experience frequently the urges to just snatch that tub of ice cream, a packet of Cheetos, and those good all chocolate rolls/cakes.
One of the ways we deal with stress in the common world is to bunch our mouths with food and disregard everything else after a long day full of work and homework that is needed to be finished even in the comforts of your home.
Today we will talk about the different types of Eating Disorders, how to manage/prevent them and how Stress is a major factor.
Stress and Eating Disorders
Stress has always been connected with the onset of different mental disorders that pop off and rears its ugly head to every individual that had problems with their stress coping mechanisms.
According to Psychology Today stress is the result of production of the chemical Cortisol which is also known as the “stress hormone”, what it usually does is to regulate levels of heightened breathing and faster high rate useful in situations that needs the fight or flight response when we encounter things of importance.
Although the body and the mind might always secrete this amounts in high level depending on the individual’s temperament, personality and reaction.
As such it is no surprise that chronic levels of stress are mainly attributed to sleep, hormonal, digestive, cardiovascular and immune problems. Prolonged levels of stress can also increase the likelihood of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Things that usually elicit stress especially to people that have eating disorders are the negative environmental and social factors. Includes socialization, peer judgment and peer perception. Our brains tend to focus on the negative of things base the researches of our scientists, because of the long history of hunter gathering by our ancestors; the Hominids.
Stress may be always magnified as something bad in nature but if anything it is something that we could use in order for us to grow into a better person in other words, we could learn different coping mechanisms to reduce our anxiety when faced by exhausting and intense situations.
It does not have to overwhelming and daunting to deal with, the good news is that we could manage, reduce, and ‘control’ our stress levels by using various relaxation techniques.
Uncomfortable situations are part of life after all, so in order to survive and thrive it throws rocks directly to our faces which invariably, in the long run, build up our characters and strength. Something we will need and is useful to become your best self in the future.
But like anything else, we all have our own problems and this includes being overwhelmed by the stresses and happenings in our life. So some of us will inevitably encounter and experience different afflictions including eating disorders.
Another factor that adds up to the problem are societal standards of the ‘perfect body shape’, which in turn leaves people with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and shame. In the downturn escalates to a more serious matter winding down into a disease.
Most Common Eating Disorders
There are 6 most common eating disorder which around 2 percent and 0.8 percent of men are affected.
Time and time again that our industrialized, affluent, and booming societies have played a part in the growth of psychological diseases in history.
They are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating patterns that leads to poor physical and/or psychological health.
The major eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, pica, and rumination disorder.
1. Anorexia Nervosa– characterized by abnormally low intakes of food due to intense fear of gaining weight.
In addition to there is a distortion with the way the person sees his/her body image such as the denial of seriousness of the body’s condition. Arguably the most well-known eating disorder thanks to social media.
2. Bulimia Nervosa – this is characterized by a serious cycle of bienging and compensatory eating habits. It is mostly found out that there are definite fluctuations with the person’s body weight (up or down).
To prevent gaining weight one of the diagnosis is the compensatory use of laxatives, inducing vomiting, fasting, or excessive exercise.
3. Binge-eating disorder– symptoms include eating large quantities of food often very quickly it is a feeling of a loss of control during binge and recurring feelings of guilt, shame, or distress after doing so. The most common eating disorder in the United States.
4. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder– also known as the Selective Food Disorder which is similar to anorexia which involves restriction of food intake but does not involve body distress about body size, shape, and fear.
A lot of children might have gone through a phase of picky eating but the difference is that someone who has ARFID is that they are not developing properly because of the lack of nutrients they are getting to maintain normal body function.
5. Pica– this is characterized by eating items that are not typically considered as food and does not contain any nutritional value such as hair, clothes, dirt and paint chip, etc.
There are multiple complications related to Pica including organ obstruction, digestive infections and toxic side effects.
Typically, Pica is something that occurs along with mental health disorders that causes impairment e.g. schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, etc.
6. Rumination Disorder– involves habitual regurgitation of the food which occurs at least once a month. Food that is regurgitated is usually re chewed, re swallowed or spitted out. Usually when someone regurgitates is doesn’t show any obvious effort and is very subtle. Someone who has RD may induced vomiting voluntarily.
Not surprisingly, people who are already suffering from different psychiatric illnesses are more prone to acquire more issues.
This is because eating patterns are disturbed by the environmental, social, biological and cultural factors which added up to the levels of multiplicity that disorders have.
Eating disorders develop around adolescence or early adulthood but onset around childhood are nothing new but there are no explanations for that as well.
Numerous scientific research were made to discover the factors, causes, and underlying measures as to why it happens. Yet we can only observe the in an effort to unravel the biological, psychological and social underpinnings.
Nevertheless, it is good to know that it is treatable, so if you or your loved one is suffering from a suspected disorder reach out to the Psychology Today and get help to the nearest therapist today.
The first step to overcoming this rocks in our lives is acknowledging them and knowing that they have an end no matter how dire the situation may seem.
Preventing and Managing Eating Disorders
We go back to the old saying, “Prevention is better than cure”. The most we could do about it to help us manage the symptoms of stress and teach ourselves different techniques to recuperate when episodes of attack happens or feelings that you are too high and wired at the moment. You could do the following exercises:
Meditation: This is something I personally do whenever I feel like stress is overwhelming and trying to snatch away the energy remaining for the day. Whenever and wherever you could do this freely and easily just find a comfortable position, like laying down or sitting up in a dignified position.
For starters just do a 5-minute breathing exercise, close your eyes, take notice of your breath and have a deep inhale and exhale. You could also do the 4-7-8 method, wherein you will inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Do this for 5-10 repetitions and you will see the great results and you might also find yourself a bit dizzy.
Journaling: If you are a frequent reader in this site, you know how much I love sharing about Journaling as a stress reliever. Writing is something that will always help you release all the pent-up emotions you might be having at the moment.
Letting yourself write all the emotions away and then afterwards burning it is going to be a nice sense of release. I made a comprehensive guide to 4 techniques of relaxation here in case if you are interested.
Muscle Relaxation: This is the active flexing of your limbs either by doing stretches or deliberately adding tension to one part of the body and releasing it. You can this with any muscles or part of body you might want, if you want to focus on your toes go do that and flex those toes. Stress is going to melt away faster than you would even know, check this video out about muscle relaxation.
Consult your Doctor: Most importantly if you think nothing is working and everything is a mess the last draw is consulting your doctor or therapist for help. We have to admit and acknowledge that at times we need to reach out to other people so that we may live life to the fullest and face our fears.
The worst part in letting us overthink whether to go a doctor or not is that you will never know until you actually go and let yourself be blinded by this fogginess. But when you attended that appointment and heard what the doctor has to say that is when you know you just conquered your anxiety.
As always if you have any questions, things you wanted to share remember that we are an open community in here. So leave us a comment and let us know what do you think.
Most importantly take care of yourself and know that there are people waiting for you and hoping all the best for you, so I hope you start with you. Take the step and contact the nearest therapist here.
**Disclaimer I am not affiliated with any of the Institution that mentioned above, it is just my way to help you connect with them**