Although most people assume that everyone with eating disorders is painfully thin and fragile, the truth can often be very different. Those with anorexia do usually become incredibly thin if their illness progresses far enough, but other eating disorders are not so obvious to everyone else.
Bulimia, for instance, is an eating disorder that causes a person to binge eat and then purge themselves in order to get rid of the excess calories they have consumed. They may do this by making themselves vomit, taking laxatives, or exercising excessively.
Binge eating disorder is another illness that affects many individuals around the UK, but it is one that most people do not associate with typical eating disorders. This illness causes sufferers to gorge themselves, usually in secret. Those affected often eat massive amounts of food in one sitting but, unlike bulimia sufferers, they do not purge themselves. They usually put on a lot of weight and will suffer the health consequences of being overweight.
Eating disorders can affect absolutely anyone, although most sufferers are young females. However, children as young as seven have been known to develop eating disorders such as anorexia, according to the charity BEAT.
It is important to remember that eating disorders are mental health disorders that require professional treatment in order to recover. It is also important to remember that regardless of age, gender or background, an eating disorder can become an issue.
There is no one single cause of eating disorders, but it is often a throwaway comment made by a loved one or a stressful situation that can be identified as the cause. For former Spice Girl Mel C, the pressure of life in the spotlight led to an eating disorder that she secretly struggled with while, to the rest of the world, she appeared to have it all.
Mel admits that personal insecurities and depression led to her eating disorder, also saying that these struggles are the reason she will not reunite with her former bandmates. She said, “Depression, eating disorders, obsessive over-exercising; I went through all of it. Yet I didn’t even admit it to myself.”
She added, “The constant scrutiny, the feeling you have no control, it’s as if the best and worst happens all together and you can’t even come to terms with it in your own head. You end up with no idea of who you are at all.”
Mel eventually reached out for help, and with therapy sessions, she managed to beat her depression and eating disorder. She admits that time away from the spotlight has helped, and she does not want to return to it.
The star believes the Spice Girls have now come to an end despite the fact that they did enjoy a brief reunion back in 2012, where the band performed at the London Olympics. She and Victoria Beckham have turned down the chance to reform the group, and despite things now being awkward between herself and other members Mel B, Emma Bunton and Geri Horner, she is sure they will once again become the ‘best of friends’.
Eating disorders can be potentially life-threatening if undiagnosed and left untreated. The type of eating disorder will determine the health risks. Those affected by anorexia, for example, are in danger of developing severe dehydration, kidney failure, brittle bones, and weakness.
Bulimia sufferers often experience gastric rupture, tooth decay and problems with the oesophagus from frequent vomiting, constipation, pancreatitis and irregular heartbeat. Those with binge eating disorder may develop obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, gallbladder disease and heart disease.
It can be difficult to diagnose an eating disorder, particularly if the person with the problem is unwilling to accept it. Nevertheless, once a diagnosis is made, it will be necessary for the patient to be treated with a variety of therapies, including psychological counselling, psychotherapy and nutritional advice.
Professional counsellors and therapists will work with the patient to help him or her identify the cause of the illness and to help with the development of a healthy attitude towards food.
Unlike treatment for other addictions such as alcohol or drug addiction, abstinence is not an option with a food addiction. The patient must learn how to change his or her relationship with food, and this can be very complicated.
It is important for those who suspect that a loved one may have an eating disorder to get help as soon as possible. As with all addictions, an eating disorder will continue to get worse if left untreated. The good news is that most people with an eating disorder will respond to treatment. Nonetheless, early intervention offers the best chance for a successful recovery.
Types of Eating Disorder (B-eat)
Mel C reveals battle with depression and eating disorders amid Spice Girls pressure, as she talks upcoming reunion (Mirror.co.uk)
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