Yug, SME and Nutrition & Fitness Coach, Alpha Coach explains about eating disorders and highlights the possible solutions to treat it

We are all familiar with the story of David and Goliath ; the victory of a valiant warrior over that of a behemoth. Today, we face another Goliath of an even greater magnitude Eating Disorders (EDs)

History

The first distress call regarding eating disorders was recorded during the 17th century – termed ‘Holy Anorexia’. This later fanned out into various versions that we’re plagued with today. The most striking observation here is the disparity between the time lapsed since eating disorders first surfaced and present day predicament we face with their treatment

The reach

Within the current Indian demographics, 35 per cent of adolescents are developing deviant eating behavior. This then stems down to 25 per cent of working adults showing deeper rooted symptoms. If left untreated, the deviant patterns then take the form of binge eating disorder which has a frequency of about 1 in every 10 individuals. Furthering, Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia nervosa statistically add up to 30 in every 100000 adults. The yearly curve summation of people suffering from the aforementioned goes up incrementally and these are just the ones diagnosed successfully!

A chain reaction

Before we delve into the HOW of treating EDs, I would like us to see the implications they can have across various domains. From a biological perspective, they cause a severe lack of nutrients needed for the body to function optimally. This could have profound effects on health becoming debilitated. The accrued effects of chronic nutritional deficiencies would then attenuate cerebral acuity needed to process information. We are also looking at self-demonising behavioral loops that could entail a high likelihood of low psychological esteem.

For people dealing with opportunities demanding professional performance where stakes are high, being incarcerated by EDs and their subsequent symptoms can result in stunted social interaction skills. For any individual to operate at full potential in a professional setup, it’s imperative that they are receptive to the social environment they’re operating in. The result? All in all an inability to create the output needed on a day to day basis. Over time this easily culminates to high frequency of leaves across the span of the year. Only to compensate for a brooding internal conflict with EDs.

Cost of combat

The dichotomy of eating disorders lies in the discrepancy between its diagnosis and treatment. The active health insurance inclusion of EDs is a subject of debate. What we have in India is an acknowledgement of the issue that exists, but not a well assertive insurance relief. Highly escalated symptoms might make one eligible at the most severe level, but that is as inefficient as leaving things to chance

Once an ED is full blown and tormenting every aspect of health, treatment comes at various levels of effort –

  • Procedural effort
  • Mental / psychological effort
  • Financial effort

The toll this would take on the private and professional life of any individual is immense. And then the period of recovery that ensues is another battle of its own. A smart approach would be that of a PREEMPTIVE STRIKE! Health care providers can be equipped with the right tools and modalities to tackle EDs at the start itself. Some through smart education on food and others via immaculate identification of symptoms

Plausible solutions 

Saying NO to food aversion is a big player that can precondition individuals to see food for what it is – purposeful. Food serves as a packet of energy, as a packet of building material and as a packet signals and instructions. To encompass all 3, we need to account for the quality, quantity and purpose attached to meals

Identification of EDs through obvious and not so obvious symptoms is crucial. Individuals who don’t suffer weight management issues could still be plagued, and this need to be identified. These are the ones that need the most help

There is a strong need for perspective shift while diagnosing EDs. General medical questioning might not highlight the issue. there needs to be a deeper assessment, which takes into consideration the emotional wellbeing, stress level and societal factors of individuals. A wholesome PHYSIOLOGICAL + PSYCHOLOGICAL + SOCIAL assessment

The stigmatising attitude we have towards EDs stems from very non consolidated assumptions. EDs are not necessarily due to

  • Lashed out choices
  • Diets gone wrong

They have deeper origins that need to be deciphered using a kind, empathetic approach. Health care providers, organizations and communities as a whole need to have an altruism oriented lense, in order to help individuals with ED

The National Eating Disorder week brings opportunities to highlight the key points that can help us provide collective solutions. EDs are characterised by biological, psychological, societal factors. They take roots as an illness in the brain, and cannot be diagnosed by sight alone. Let us, as a nation, dive deeper to slay this Goliath.

Originally published on Express HealthCare.

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