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Relation between Mental health and Eating Disorders #CauseAChatter

Can you identify with the quote “I eat when I’m happy and when sad, I eat more!”? Irrespective of age, food has always been the friend we fall back on for comfort. Pakodas on a rainy day, midnight snacking, movie marathon, birthdays, anniversaries, or a party night with friends, we invent excuses to let go, aplenty! Conversely, there are sinister examples of crash dieting, malnutrition, and severe deficiencies due to obsessive food control. Are these bouts of unhealthy eating a sign of something more complex than merely bad eating habits? If we look closely, mental health and eating disorders are two sides of the same coin.

I’m a former fat girl transformed into a health and fitness blogger (and soon-to-be expert nutritionist). Think about any body-shaming jab one can hurt you with and I’ve probably heard it, multiple times. Instead of getting motivated I took them all on my chin and chose to go into hiding, with a bag of potato chips. Few people might’ve meant well but didn’t know anything about acting subtly with a hormonal and confused teenager. I can hence vouch that mental health and eating disorders cannot be understood in isolation.

Relation between Mental health and Eating Disorders_avibrantpalette

Let’s see some common reasons that lead to eating disorders.

  • Personality traits – Perfectionism can push a person to any length to get the ideal body type. Impulsiveness to get results and jumping from one kind of diet to another may make one lose focus and backfire. Neurotic behaviour may make one take drastic and, often, dangerous steps.
  • Social media – Glossy magazines and photoshopped images on the internet negate the work done by body positivity activists. An unreal and unachievable body image makes one lose self-confidence and encourages unhealthy eating habits. Comparison, online or offline, is never helpful.
  • Cultural ideals – In some cultures, an ideal body type is curvy while in others it is waif-thin. Both men and women are dogged with insufferable expectations. Any which way, anyone differing from the ‘ideal’ stands out and invites harsh reactions, leading to much heartburn.
  • Genetics – Many of our eating habits, even disorders, are handed down to us through generations. However, with professional help, one can try and reduce the harmful effects that come with them.

Now that we know the relation between mental health and eating disorders, let us know and understand a few of them.

  • Anorexia nervosa – Generally known to develop around adolescence, anorexia is more acute in women than men. Anorexic people with ideal or low body weight tend to consider themselves overweight and relentlessly try to cut down calories by avoiding many food types. They have a distorted body image, live in the intense fear of putting on, and show little to no self-esteem. Also, obsessive-compulsive symptoms are often displayed. Anorexia is of two types – restricting and binge eating.
  • Binge eating disorder – This is one of the most common eating disorders that has no age limit. Binge eating is characterised by eating unusually large amounts of food in short intervals, in hiding without any hunger for it, and feeling a total lack of control while doing it. These episodes are often followed by a continued feeling of guilt, shame, and disgust. Lifestyle diseases, obesity, and excess weight are damaging consequences of binge eating.
  • Pica – We feel repulsed by people who eat non-edible things like chalk, mud, pencil, cloth, soap, hair, etc, don’t we? Interestingly, this disorder has a name, Pica, and is frequently seen in pregnant women, children and people with mental disabilities. Pica can cause poisoning, deficiencies and depending upon the substance consumed can also prove fatal.
  • Avoidant/ Restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) – ARFID can develop in infancy and can well continue to show in both men and women. People with ARFID lack interest in eating or dislike certain smells, tastes, textures or colours. It is different from fussy eating and can lead to incomplete physical development, deficiencies and awkward behaviour when eating socially.

Food is for nourishment and every bite we take should make our body and soul smile. Mental health and eating disorders are hence two crucial health issues that need to be addressed, with professional help if need be. We often choose to overlook their underlying causes and blame them on bad temperament or scant regard to a healthy lifestyle. Let us pledge to show some love, care and concern for ourselves. A healthy mind and a healthy body is a gift we deserve, don’t we?

This post is part of #CauseAChatter with Blogchatter

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18 thoughts on “Relation between Mental health and Eating Disorders #CauseAChatter

  1. I generally overeat when I am stressed. Therefore I agree Mental health and eating disorder are interrelated. I wasn’t aware of most of the terms mentioned by you. Thank you so much I feel enlightened reading this today.

  2. Food has direct relation with our mental health. Binge eating and binge watching or finishing a box of chocolate when upset tells about this connection. Didn’t know about the term Pica.

  3. Yes mental health and eating disorders have close relation that many people did not know. thank you so much dear writing about it. and sharing all insights. indeed a useful post for understanding different kind of eating disorders. and woe many congrats for new role of expert nutritionist .

  4. Eating disorder is as real as it can get however, I believe, we as a society don’t talk about it often. The blog post was quite informative and I got to learn about this a tad bit more. Being from that group of the society which is usually called addressed as a “Fat People Group” I can connect with the thought process one has when it comes to eating disorder. Keep writing and spreading the right information, would love to read more on this topic 🙂

  5. I agree that there are so many reasons for eating disorder and yes it is all connected with our mental health. I am glad you shared all with so ease and it will be so helpful for many of us!!

  6. i totally agree with all the pointers , i end up stuffing my self when I am not in a good mood and stressed.. this post is super helpful

  7. Very insightful blog Varsha and Thanks for introducing the terms related to eating disorder. Would now explore more on ARFID.

  8. Eating disorders and mental health both are related I hardly knew much about it and for picking up the right topic to go with as every individual deal’s this with daily to daily life.

  9. This is a very relevant topic. Indeed there is such a direct link between eating and mental health. Overeating is usually a result of a feeling of insecurity.

  10. I realized this is an issue related to stress during my time at Australia. I would often tuck in a tub of ice-cream or hog on giant bag of chips. You have written a well informative post, thank you for this Varsha.

  11. I am so glad you spoke out lod about this . Even though most of us grow up understanding the link between our mental health and eating habits, it’s important to understand the logic and reasoning behind it.

  12. I have heard a lot about mental health having a direct relation with eating disorders. It definitely need to be medically dealt and addressed. And the most important is to come out and talk about it. Instead of suffering in silence we as a society should support people suffering like this.

  13. I agree too. Eating disorder and mental health go hand in hand. If you have seen the show The Crown, about the British royals, it also shows that Princess Diana had eating disorders due to the issues in her life.

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