For her 1 June, 2017 Isabel Vallejo
Social networks influence people’s desires to maintain a slender and healthy body. Make good decisions with the advice of a physician.
Medical advisor Jaime Dueñas Adams – Psychiatrist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Social networks have turned into a place to showcase diets, exercises and tips on how to stay in shape. Becoming obsessed with a lifestyle based on image, however, can lead to problems such as eating disorders.
An eating disorder is when an individual takes on an extreme behavior related to weight, eating or body image problems. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Body dysmorphic disorder, however, is also common, “This is when someone has an excessive concern for their body when there is only a small or minor abnormality or dysfunction in the body, and can lead to both physical and mental conditions,” states Jaime Dueñas Adams, psychiatrist.
Other similar disorders include orthorexia, an obsession for eating foods considered to be healthy, and muscle dysmorphia, which is defined as the need to have a muscular body. According to our specialist, these behaviors become health problems when they become repetitive.
In some cases, “Some teenagers or adults become influenced by the media or social networks, they identify with these mental conditions or symptoms and they end up believing they have this disease,” he states.
When someone who is concerned about their image does not eat well or stops eating, this can have serious consequences on their health and lifestyle, and can also affect their personal relationships.
Check with your doctor
The need for approval found on social networks reinforces this behavior. “People are excessively concerned about body image or about looking good to others out of a fear of ‘what others will say’ or of being criticized for one’s body,” our specialist explains.
There are also those that promote new health or fitness trends, “They suggest to their readers that there are certain dangers or consequences of trying to have a healthy body, when their real interest is selling their products and not actual health.”
People must therefore interpret this type of information critically and work closely with a physician in order to reach their projected health goals, and later, consider their image.
Dr. Dueñas also adds that to help people that are suffering from one of these disorders, in addition to educating them, individual psychotherapy and psychiatric and psychological medical treatment is necessary.
In regard to the variety of products and methods available to stay in shape, our specialist recommends being careful, understanding that everybody is different, and that being disciplined and believing in yourself are essential to reaching your goals.
Symptoms such as having extreme ideas about appearance that are not real (such as feeling overweight when you are not), being excessive about caring for yourself, rejecting invitations to eat out with your friends and inexplicable weight loss are some signs of extreme behavior or of changes in behavior that can warn of a perception related problem and can help prevent long-term effects on health.
1.5 kg or at least a half kg is how much people who suffer from anorexia should gain when they are under treatment to recover their weight.
Identify the warning signs before it’s too late
- Being able to identify the different types of eating disorders will help you know when to ask for help.
- Restricting type anorexia: Is characterized by fasting and limiting the foods one eats.
- Purging type anorexia: Is often confused with bulimia and is characterized by the need to purge the food.
- Bulimia: This disorder is characterized by binge eating followed by purging through laxatives or self-induced vomiting.
- Binge eating disorder: In contrast to bulimia, this disorder is characterized by someone that eats in excess and eats out of control, but does not force themselves to purge their food.
- Orthorexia: An obsession for ideas and behaviors that are related to having an extremely healthy diet.