In order to reduce their weight, sufferers restrict the amount of food they take in by skipping meals and cutting down on amounts of food they eat, essentially starving themselves, which leads to severe weight loss.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a distorted body image, excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss, together with a pathological fear of becoming fat.
Anorexics see themselves as overweight when in reality they are extremely underweight. Despite this, they never believe they are thin enough, and have an intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight.
In order to reduce their weight, individuals with anorexia restrict the amount of food they take in by skipping meals and cutting down on the types and amounts of food they eat, essentially starving themselves, which leads to severe weight loss. This usually starts by cutting out ‘bad’ foods, mainly fats and sugar, but as time goes on, they cut out more and more types of food, eventually limiting food intake to the point where their health can be compromised.
People with anorexia genuinely see themselves as fat/disgusting/obese, and the pathological fear of becoming fat means that they will deny there is a problem and often go to great lengths to hide their behaviours from family and friends. They will always have an excuse for why they do not want to eat, such as not being hungry/feeling unwell/have already eaten/not liking the food/too busy to eat.
They often become very deceitful, lying to family and friends about what and when they have eaten, sometimes going to great lengths to cover up their lies. Sufferers may also become very down, withdrawn and quiet, and begin to isolate themselves.
Individuals with anorexia are often obsessed with thoughts of food, calories, exercise, and diets and sometimes appear to take real pleasure in recipes, menus and cooking for others, yet don’t eat themselves. They may also start to become overly interested in reading food labels, and know the fat/calorific content of variety of foods. Thoughts of food, fat, shape and weight dominate their minds, and may dominate their conversations, and you may often hear them complaining of being fat.
As well as restricting their food intake, anorexics may also exercise excessively, and use laxatives or diuretics in an attempt to lose more weight. Individuals are often irrational and unrelenting in their quest to lose weight, and may weigh themselves excessively, and spend a lot of time scrutinizing their bodies in the mirror.
Individuals with anorexia go to great lengths to hide their illness from those around them. Therefore signs and symptoms can be hard to spot.
Some of the most common features of Anorexia are –
Eating disorders are extremely serious, potentially fatal conditions, that impact a person’s physical and emotional health. They often result in medical complications that can have long-term consequences.
Starvation is the main feature of Anorexia, and this can have serious effects on all major body systems and organs. When Anorexia becomes extreme, the person is deprived of all the essential nutrients they need to function, so the body will start to use its own tissue, including muscle and organs, for energy, since there is no food to use. This often causes permanent damage to the organs in the process.
Due to the lack of essential nutrients received, the body begins to shut down some of its processes in an attempt to conserve energy. This can result in potentially serious medical complications.
Some of the major health implications of Anorexia include –
Although there are very serious medical complications which can result from all types of eating disorders, the good news is that almost all are completely reversible upon the person becoming weight restored and nutritionally healthy.