‘I’ve only had one chocolate tart in three days. I don’t get hungry;’ ‘Every bite that my sister eats has to be weighed on the scale, calories counted and fat grams checked;’ ‘If I don’t eat for a whole day then I’ll shrink a little and then I can fit into that dress for tomorrow’s party...’
In the urban scenario, it’s hard not to tune into these voices. Eating disorders are not a far cry from the West. The numbers are growing, and it’s a reality in today’s India. While many are acquainted with anorexia and bulimia, other unheard of disorders such as drunkorexia, compulsive exercising too are making their way to the dreaded list.
Anorexia is an eating disorder with an obsessive fear of gaining weight. It is characterised by starving, excessive exercising or binging, followed by purging through vomiting or use of laxatives to empty the stomach.
Causes for anorexia
- Low self-esteem
- Social and cultural pressures
- Family environment
- Genetic predisposition
- Illnesses like arthritis, colitis, kidney failure and cirrhosis of the liver
- Advanced alcoholism and drug addiction
- Deficiency of vitamins A, B1, B3 & C
- Certain medication
Symptoms of anorexia
Treatment of anorexia
- Body weight that is inconsistent with age, build and height (15 per cent below normal)
- Loss of at least 3 consecutive menstrual periods (in women)
- Obsessive about calorie intake
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Excessive exercising
- Low blood pressure
- Dizziness or fainting
- Brittle nails
- Dry skin
- Shortness of breath
- Hair loss
- Constipation and feeling cold
Psychotherapy: It can be used to improve the self image of the person and to deal with the psychological problems causing anorexia.
Nutritional therapy: This can help the person to take a proper diet to gain the required amount of weight.
Medications: These are not very helpful in curing anorexia but can be used to treat related symptoms to a certain extent.
Hospitalisation: In case of dangerously thin people, hospitalisation might be required to monitor their health and bring them back to a healthy state.
Alternative therapy: Alternative therapy such as hypnotherapy, homeopathy, art, aromatherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, yoga and reflexology, besides counseling and other treatments are equally effective ways that can help those with eating disorders.
Prevention of anorexia
- Having a positive self-image
- Healthy view towards food
- Realistic view of physical appearance
- Staying active