If you have been struggling with an eating disorder for at least a few months, you know perfectly that eating disorders are never related to food.
Annoying suggestions from people who have been perfectly healthy their whole lives may also be familiar to you:
“Have you tried water fasting?”
“Maybe eating some junk food will help you gain weight.”
“Making yourself throw up after eating will only damage your teeth and stomach. Could you stop?”
and the good ol’ “Men will not want to be seen with you in public. Lose some weight!”
And do not even bother telling someone with an eating disorder that it’s all their fault.
First off, what are eating disorders and how are they triggered?
Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions marked by severe disturbances in one’s eating behaviour and by an obsession with one’s body image.
You may assume that eating disorders are mostly caused by low self-esteem. I just want to break that down for you real quick. If binge eating, bulimia and anorexia are the only eating disorders you are aware of, then I recommend that you do some research.
Here are some eating disorders you may not know about (and how they manifest):
Orthorexia – when the desire to eat healthy turns into an obsession.
Often, people suffering of orthorexia also consume too many nutrients thinking that they deeply lack them.
Diabulimia – a disorder with the character of a bulimic behaviour that gets born when people with type 1 diabetes give themselves less insulin than they actually should or even none, not necessarily with self-destructive purposes, but more for weight-loss.
ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder) – a person suffering of ARFID may avoid certain foods or may restrict the amount eaten. The reason why they choose to do so is because of sensitivity to its texture, smell, taste, aftertaste, appearance or even temperature.
Prader Willi Syndrome – this syndrome is genetically inherited. Symptoms include: weak musculature, poor feeding, insatiable hunger, and almost always, obesity.
Drunkorexia – a disorder that consists of limiting the quantity of food ingested and binge-drinking instead of eating, in order not to consume too many calories.
WARNING! The following ones may gross you out!
Pica – individuals suffering of pica crave things not food-related such as: dead skin, ice, soil, dirt, cornstarch, paper, soap etc. The people suffering of pica are mostly pregnant women, children, mentally ill adults.
Rumination disorder – basically eating food the way a cow does, excepting the 2-stomach part. Jokes aside, it consists of regurgitating the food you’ve just eaten, then re-chewing it multiple times. This may either be intentional or caused by increased abdominal pressure.
As you may have observed, exactly as it is when it comes to other mental illnesses, eating disorders can have various causes: genetics, low self-esteem due to bullying or trauma in general, emotional eating, other mental or physical illnesses and so forth.
What I’m trying to say, food will never be the cause or trigger of an eating disorder.
The question is, how could you help a person dealing with an eating disorder?
Maybe by not judging them:) Don’t give them ugly looks whenever they’re around food. And oh, being compassionate will do you no bad.
Check out other of our health-related articles right here.