EATING DISORDERS ARE VERY REAL HEALTH CONDITIONS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
In May of 2022, the people of Bangladesh learnt about the death of a school child by the name of Samin who was for all intents and purposes a perfectly polite child. Yet, he was bullied to the point where he developed an eating disorder called anorexia nervosa, which is a term unheard of by most Brown South-East Asian families.
Growing up, we learnt that the only way we could earn praise was by being physically pretty that is, thin and fit. An eating disorder is characterised as a disorder that negatively affects a person’s mental and physical health. There are many kinds of eating disorders with the most common ones being anorexia nervosa, bulimia, etc.
Eating disorders are becoming prevalent amongst teenagers and young adults due to various genetic, social, and behavioural factors. While people from any demographic can become a victim of an eating disorder, the most common causes tend to be the diet industry and social media which causes impressionable teenagers to become infatuated with the need to have ‘the perfect body.’
What exactly are the biggest red flags for an eating disorder and how can we spot them? This typically depends on the disease itself.
Anorexia nervosa is typically characterised as the patient having a dislike if not outright fear of consuming any food. Patients of this disorder often excessively count their calories and starve their bodies to unhealthy levels.
Indeed, most anorexia victims often end up looking like emaciated zombies and yet they still continue to count their calories, even if it means risking their health. This is because they often have a distorted body image where they believe that they are actually overweight even if they are actually dangerously underweight. This is often why anorexia patients succumb to either long-term starvation or multiple organ failure.
Another common eating disorder is bulimia nervosa. This eating disorder is typically characterised by the patient eating massive amounts of food within a given time period even if they don’t feel hungry.
EATING DISORDERS ARE BECOMING PREVALENT AMONGST TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS DUE TO VARIOUS GENETIC, SOCIAL, AND BEHAVIOURAL FACTORS.
Sufferers of bulimia nervosa often partake in excessive fitness routines and crash diets and often purge themselves after every meal. Purging is when victims of bulimia often either force themselves to throw up the food they have eaten. This causes a myriad of health problems, the most common being having a chronically sore and swollen throat and a mouth full of decaying teeth from constant exposure to stomach acid. There is a high chance that this leads to severe dehydration and an electrolyte balance which can result in strokes or even a heart attack.
Now, how do we identify if someone has an eating disorder and most importantly how can we help them? The most significant way to help those suffering from an eating disorder is to simply listen to their struggles and provide compassion. It might not seem like much but for someone who is battling a disease that is equal parts physically and mentally exhausting it makes a world of difference. Additionally, the patient should seek professional medical help.
In conclusion, eating disorders can ruin people’s lives physically, mentally and psychologically. We should always remember what happened when our callous words led young Samin onto the path of destruction, and try to prevent something like this from happening again.