The social pressures of modern life bring new eating habits with them that can cause eating disorders and affect the health of young people.
Medical Advisor: Jaime Adams Dueñas Psychiatrist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
There are many types of eating disorders that affect the health of people throughout the world, the most common of which are anorexia and bulimia. Extreme eating habits have a negative effect on people’s health and have increased and become more deeply rooted over the last few years as a result of new lifestyles and the demands they bring, often a response to wanting social acceptance.
Psychiatrist Jaime Adams Dueñas indicates that this trend is due to the stereotypes of physical appearance that advertisements create through media outlets such as television and internet. He also believes that advertisements promote the notion of an ideal life and wellbeing in a way that does not represent reality, harming those who try to adopt these forms to become beautiful, achieve everlasting youth or achieve what is supposed to be “healthy.”
“The influence these messages have and the idealistic type of people that they display can have a greater effect on people who are psychologically more susceptible to suffer from these disorders,” the specialist explains.
Children and youth tend to be more likely to suffer from diet-related disorders; however, they are also conditions that adults must also deal with. According to Adams, eating disorders can manifest as a problem of consumption (how people eat), a problem of quantity (too much or too little food) and by type of food (what people eat).
It can be dangerous because at first, people may not appear to be sick, and physically they may look better, however their poor nutrition can put their body out of balance and even lead to other diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Adams therefore recommends knowing what the warning signs are and with children and youth, parents should learn to detect any unusual behaviors.
“The only healthy diet is one that is balanced; one where you do not eat in excess and that is paired with moderate physical activity,” states the psychiatrist.
The general recommendation with eating disorders is to seek medical attention. This provides patients with comprehensive care with their physician, nutrition specialists, psychologists and psychiatrists, who can all help the patient to maintain healthy and enjoyable eating habits. The list below introduces a few new types of eating disorders.
- According to Adams, orthorexia is a condition in which the person is obsessed with healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, a notion that comes from the idea of living an eternal life that is sold on advertisements. “They are very aware of everything that they eat and abstain from fats and proteins, thinking that this is healthier for them. This affects them negatively because these types of foods provide a significant source of nutrients.”
- Permarexia is the belief that takes away the ability to enjoy a meal, as every time they eat, they feel like they are going to gain weight. As our psychiatrist states, this obsession manifests in the need to carefully watch and count the calories they eat.
“Muscle dysmorphia is another disorder that happens with people who over-exercise and take supplements and drink water instead of eating healthy,” Adams states.
- Drunkorexia occurs when people (especially teens and youth) drink alcohol and restrict what they eat to “compensate” for the calories they get from these drinks. Another form of a restricted diet is potomania, which is the trend of drinking more than the daily recommended amount of liquids (4 liters) instead of eating solids.
- Last is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). While anorexia is fueled by a fear of gaining weight, ARFID is simply a condition in which the person simply loses an interest in eating.
can vary depending on how, how much and what type of food is consumed. It is important to observe people carefully in order to detect any unusual behavior.
Women are more likely to have eating disorders, which tend to come with depression, anxiety and drug abuse.
How to prevent them
While new eating patterns can affect how people eat, there are ways of avoiding them or treating them on time when they do arise. Our psychiatrist offers the following recommendations to keep in mind both for adults and for people who take care of children and teens:
- Pay attention to mood.
- Do moderate exercise without having a goal of looking like the models on advertisements. Do it for your health.
- Do not overeat and try to have a balanced diet (the World Health Organization recommends eating five servings of 400 mg of fruit and vegetables a day, as well as limiting fat consumption to 30% of your daily caloric intake).
- Analyze and check what your relationship is with food.
- Don’t believe everything on the internet. Seek out information in scientific or health journals.
Accept the problem
There can be several stages to treating eating disorders; they can require comprehensive care, depending on the patient’s condition.
“The most important thing is for people to accept they have a problem with their diet, because people often use defense mechanisms and false justifications to not have to accept the problem,” states Adams. For him, family also plays an essential role, as they can sometimes worsen the problem without realizing it when, for example, they make comments about the physical appearance of the person who has an eating disorder •
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