Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can develop when eating habits become compulsive.
Some people start controlling the amount they eat to deal problems in their life and eating disorders can often be a sign of depression.
Others may feel pressure to be thin by comparing themselves to friends or celebrities.
Lifestyle magazines constantly feature pictures of underweight celebrities which make us think that being extremely thin is normal.
The reality is that a size 0 is not healthy or the norm. In fact the average size for a woman in the UK is size 16.
Anorexia can often begin gradually and unnoticed by others – you might skip the odd meal, or become more conscious about the calorie content of certain foods. Without addressing the problem, it can quickly spiral into being deceptive about what you are eating, taking in the bare minimum of calories per day. Or you might exercise compulsively to ensure your weight stays as low as possible.
If you are bulimic, you control what you eat by binging on food and then vomiting or using laxatives to purge your body. Again, this problem might start very slowly but can become all-encompassing - where all you can think about is food.
Both eating disorders, which affect both males and females, can have a devastating impact on the body. Possible effects include bone damage, infertility, kidney disease and heart failure. Teeth can also be eroded by stomach acid through regular vomiting. At its worst, sufferers can even die of the complications of their eating disorder.
As an anorexic or bulimic, it can be really hard to admit that there is a problem, but the good news is that eating disorders can be treated if you choose to seek help.
Speak to someone you can trust – it helps to share your problems with a friend or family member. Your doctor can also refer you to somebody who can support you, such as an eating disorder clinic.
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