Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

The reason for adding a page about eating disorders to my site is that many survivors of sexual and/or ritual abuse develop one, including me.
I remember starting to binge at a very young age. I was often deprived of food and when I was around 9 years old I started to steal the money from my parents to be able to buy food. This resulted in me gaining weight because I didn't buy "healthy" food. Gaining weight was not allowed because I needed to have "the perfect body" for the prostitution. Besides the fact that a body needs food, I also started to gain psychological gain from eating the forbidden food. It somehow comforted me as well. I think it was because of the unacceptable weight gain that I started to make myself throw up and in no time I had developed full-blown bulimia.
I didn't tell anyone until I was in my twenties. I didn't even know that it was a disorder, I just thought I was crazy for eating so much food in so little time and than throwing it up. It wasn't until recently that I finally made the decision to say goodbye to my good friend bulimia and to start to recover. It isn't easy. I have had my eating disorder for over 20 years now with many binges a week. Letting go of this comfort creates a lot of discomfort for which I have to find new ways to deal with. I can only take it one day at a time but I am on my way to recovery.

Why Do Eating Disorders Occur?
Eating disorders arise from a complex combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. People with eating disorders often use food and the control of food to compensate for feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming.

There are different kinds of eating disorders:

* Anorexia Nervosa
* Bulimia Nervosa
* Binge Eating/Compulsive Overeating

Anorexia Nervosa:
Anorexia is an eating disorder where people starve themselves. The main characteristic is the restriction of food and the refusal to maintain a minimal normal body weight.
People with anorexia continue to think they are overweight even after they become extremely thin. They are obsessed with being fat, and appear to be terrified of gaining weight.

Physical Consequences:

  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Dry, brittle bones due to significant bone density loss (osteoporosis)
  • Dry, brittle nails and hair; or hair loss
  • Lowered resistance to illness
  • Hypersensitivity to heat and cold
  • Bruises easily
  • Appears to need less sleep than normal eaters
  • Digestive problems such as bloating or constipation
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure
  • Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness
  • Eventual growth of a downy layer of hair (lanugo) all over the body, including the face (the body is trying to stay warm)
  • In severe cases: heart trouble, low blood pressure, low heart rate, low body temperature, poor circulation, anemia, stunted growth, and even death

Emotional and Behavioral Consequences:

  • Difficulty in concentrating on anything else except weight
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Emotional regression to a child-like state
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt and depression
  • Dependence upon alcohol or drugs to handle the negative outlook

Bulimia Nervosa:
Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control like vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics, or compulsive exercising.
A binge can range from an intake of 1000 or more calories (it can even exceed 50.000 calories.) However, sometimes a bulimic will consider a small amount of food (i.e., a piece of cake) to be a "binge." A binge normally ends when there is no more food or when the body is painfully bloated. It usually occurs in secret; it may be planned in advance; or it may be the case that any unplanned eating--even one bite--can suddenly cascade into a binge. Some people binge occasionally, while others will binge many times a day.

Physical Consequences:

  • Electrolyte imbalance caused by dehydration (can lead to irregular heartbeats, heart problems, and even death)
  • Inflammation of the esophagus from frequent vomiting
  • Tooth and gum problems
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation from laxative abuse
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Chronic kidney problems or failure

Emotional Consequences:

  • Shame and guilt
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Impaired family and social relationships
  • Perfectionism
  • "All or nothing" thinking

Binge Eating/Compulsive Overeating:
Compulsive overeating is characterized by uncontrollable eating followed by feelings of guilt and shame. It is different from bulimia in that it does not involve any purging. While it inevitably results in weight gain, it is also not to be confused with obesity. Not everyone who is overweight has an eating disorder.

Consequences of Binge Eating/Compulsive Overeating:

Many of the health consequences of binge eating are also associated with clinical obesity:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol levels
  • heart disease
  • diabetes mellitus
  • gall bladder disease
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • increased risk for some sorts of cancer

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