A constant preoccupation with food, eating and your body may signal trouble. Foreverfit tells you how to recognize the signs of eating disorders. 

Most of us tend to binge once in a while, or even starve, to make up for over-eating. Self-control is not a given when it comes to food. But when you can’t stop brooding over what you should or shouldn’t eat, or how much you weigh, then this may spell trouble. You may, in fact be suffering from one of many eating disorders.

Rise in prevalence

While precise numbers are not available, experts say that eating disorders have risen in India. Most disorders strike girls in their teens or 20s, who have serious concerns with the way their appearance, and weight.

Signs of a distorted body image include imagining yourself to be much fatter or thinner than you actually are, weighing yourself constantly, and taking extreme measures to control your food intake.

The Beauty myth fuels the problem

The biggest cause of eating disorder is the beauty myths, and standards set by the media. “These disorders are related to body dysmorphia, or distorted self-image. Some imagine themselves to be fatter than they are. Others want to be thin, like models they see in magazines,” explains nutritionist Dr. Rekha Sharma.

It’s time to seek expert help if food is more a source of pain than pleasure in your life, and your mirror image and weighing scale scare you. You must mend your relationship with food and eating, to lead a healthy and productive life.

Read on to learn more about the three most common eating disorders.

#1 Anorexia Nervosa
People with this condition are fearful of gaining weight, or looking fat. Anorexics may be drastically underweight, and unnaturally preoccupied with food.  For example, they eat only certain foods, skip meals, and frequently check their weight.

Other symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, and symptoms of malnutrition such as constipation, hair loss, and irregular menstruation. If you know anyone with this problem, do advise them to get help. Treatment consists of a combination of good nutrition and counselling, though hospitalization may be essential in extreme cases.

#2 Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia can be hard to identify, as patients seem healthy and normal. Last year, actress Richa Chadha put this problem in the spotlight, by speaking at a TEDx event about how career pressure drove her to bulimic episodes.

This disorder is characterised by episodes of binge-eating, alternating with episodes of purging, to reduce calorie consumption. Bulimics go to bathroom after meals to vomit, or use laxatives to expel food. Treating them involves a combination of counselling, antidepressants and building of a support network.

#3 Binge-eating disorder
Binge-eating disorder means eating without being able to stop. This is believed to reflect emotional imbalance and dissatisfaction, and is common among frequent dieters.

In particular, emotions like sadness, anger, or even boredom may prompt this pattern. Normally, the treatment for anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, may help people with this disorder.