Anorexia and Its Holistic Approaches
I have thought extensively on why people develop mental disorders like depression and anorexia. Reflecting on my own experiences with depression, I have learned that mental disorders are 20% what happens to you and 80% how you react/respond to it. I am not dismissing anyone’s problems or their suffering because of them. Trust me, I have had my share of stressful situations such as incompetent bosses, losing my job because of office politics, gossip, back-biting, and not to mention battling depression is stressful enough. Where my situation differs is that I ask for help and others may not. While great help wasn’t available to me in the past probably because of my misdiagnosis and innate stubbornness in not believing my doctors (they kinda go hand-in-hand), I finally know now what to ask my doctors and what to tell them. Thus, NOW I am getting the help I deserve.
Health is becoming a political issue in United States, and it shouldn’t have to be. The cause is usually fiscal. I have a solution for that. I feel instead of yearly physical tests one should also get their mental status checked for stressful triggers, anxiety, and other issues not overtly visible. Does that mean everyone should be going through expensive screenings and preventive care appointments with doctors? Although that would be awesome, it is not fiscally possible and a tad bit unnecessary. Let me propose something instead. How about a genetic test at birth and then having your whole health plan charted according to conditions/illnesses/issues you are predisposed for? Sounds like a sound and less expensive solution to the heated health debate current in Congress. If this solution is presented, I want to stress the importance of mental issues such as depression (read HERE) and the topic of today’s post- eating disorders.
Eating disorders, like depression are more emotional and psychological issues that have physical symptoms down the very slow-paced, long line. It is a sad fact that many mental disorders can be dealt with earlier than when they become actual depressive or eating disorders. It is a given fact that eating disorders are in response to anxiety, poor body image and/or lack of confidence. But, instead of blaming an individual and his genetic susceptibility, we have to analyze their personality and lifestyle as well. I have discovered that super sensitive people are great listeners and overall nice, wonderful people. They may have no difficulty opening up to others, being social, and making friends. Sadly, this is an invitation to jealousy, gossip, and backbiting. If young girls and in many cases boys do not get the emotional support they need like having friends or having open conversations with parents, they can take this gossip or what is being said about them way too seriously and can manifest this trauma in forms of eating disorders (others can get depressed or even commit suicide).
After speaking to a couple of former patients and meditating on their stories, I feel like I have a basic understanding of what goes on in their mind. Each human being is wired differently and no one is safe from bad experiences. When things in life go out of control, we are automatically told that we have control and can change our circumstances. While, we can occasionally change our circumstances, the only thing we have 100% CONTROL over is ourselves. This can be good and bad depending on factors such as an individual’s type of foundation or support system consisting of family, friends, and doctors.
So why do we develop these illnesses? In anorexia, sensitive people may feel guilty and angry about what others think of them. Other times they feel bad about feeling bad. There is a constant struggle between what they think about themselves (their reality) and what others think (others’ reality). I had my share of people calling me names and belittling my abilities. Trust me, I don’t care. Since childhood, I had always been taught and now I preach the same lesson-learn to think highly of yourself is the most important lesson you will learn in life. Yes, life can get tough. Things may seem out of control when there is gossip about you and something truly bad can happen because of it (like losing a friend or a job). However, you may avoid confrontation or getting help and feel if you take strategic, calculated steps, you may regain control back in your life. Sadly, while others go seek outside help, some tragic few take matters in their own hands.
Controlling what you eat (or in this case, starving yourself) is one way to regain that control. Young girls may think if they stop eating they will become pretty and then accepted by others. Adults may become too tired or stressed or busy to think about eating healthy and may binge eat or drink instead. This is all signs of alienation from your true self and what your body needs. I find it really hard to believe that people are born self-loathing and resort to starvation to figuratively and actually disappear. This is a highly morbid and false statement. Most resort to these measures because they do not have help. First thing to note is that all these feelings are because of what is happening outside your mind not inside. You are perfect the way you are! My whole life I thought I was perfect. I was popular, intelligent, with a confident self-image. It was not until I clashed with people with actual undiagnosed mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders, and borderline personality disorders (yes, I met all of these types) that I began to question myself and people I trusted. Trust me no one likes to be described as rejected, crazy, risky, and ugly, and these sick people called me this. I don’t regret it (sometimes I still do), but overall, these experiences have made me more confident, assured, and rooted in my life’s purpose and for that I am forever grateful to God.
While I became depressed battling stressful situations, some overeat to appease their anxiety and others who actually fear compensating help with food can starve themselves. All ways are detrimental!! Remember to make healthy choices, not just eat healthy. That means fats, carbs, fruits, vegetables, proteins, legumes, you name it. Eat everything, but in moderation and have an active lifestyle consisting of work, exercise, rest, and meditation.
Conditions and Their Symptoms:
- Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
- Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
- Self-esteem overly related to body image.
- Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
- Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.
- Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging.
- Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.
- Self-esteem overly related to body image.
Binge Eating Disorder
- Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
- Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
- Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.
Above are some common symptoms of eating disorders. Be mindful of when you feel like doing this anytime. It is a red flag! However, there are some non–medicinal techniques I have learned to deal with stressful situations.
1. Remove yourself from that situation immediately! Go to a bathroom stall, a quiet, empty room or in a corner of your office. Basically you want people stimulation to stop.
2. Breathe loudly and then slowly as you become more “aware” of your existence or state of presence. Some people can make you want to disappear and a few realize that it can actually have energetic ramifications. Imagine roots growing from your feet or visualize vibrant colors of the chakras; basically anything that will make you feel like you existing is important for this world, not just for yourself.
3. I too have moments when I want to deal with anxiety and stress by stuffing my face. Yes, I have a heavier frame, but I know I am as healthy as I can be given my circumstances and age. If I could give you one piece of dietary advice, it would be to avoid dairy or protein during these weak moments. They make you feel sick, icky, and basically fat afterwards. Instead opt for natural sugar items such as dark chocolate and fruits. Maybe a salad with raspberry dressing. Drink plenty of water. It’s weird, but it helps to know that you are not forcing yourself to starve. You will be munching on something that will get your mind of the bad stuff, and you will get that extra sensation in your mouth that will awaken you and (you will feel like you are spoiling yourself) rather than starving yourself.
NEVER, NEVER, throw up after you eat. Instead say, “My next meal will be lighter,” or maybe “I can go out for a walk”. But then do be cautious not to do that again. Trust me if you are mindful about what you eat for a week or so, healthy eating will become second nature to you. Why? Just because we are God’s creatures and we need to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.