Obsessed with being thin?

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Do you subscribe to the theory — “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?” As more and more women take to the new image of size zero, we see growing victims of deadly eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa. Media and the fashion magazines are often held guilty for hyping the zero trends, misguiding many. A few kind words and some healthy eating habits would go a long way in “shaping up.”

By Sulagna Chatterjee

Do you subscribe to the theory — “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?” Is your life being ruled by the weighing scale, diet meals and restricted food intake? We urge you to take a reality check

As more and more women take to the new image of size zero, we see growing victims of deadly eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa and Bulimia nervosa.

What’s eating us?
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremely low body weight, distorted body image and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by   recurrent binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors like purging, fasting, using laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and over exercising as well. Both these cases are mainly seen in young women between the age group of 15 to 25 years.

Alarming scales
Media and the fashion magazines are often held guilty for hyping the zero trends, misguiding many. But there is more than meets the eyes.

“There are many factors responsible like personality disorders, cultural norms, family backgrounds, peer pressure and even dieting behaviors at home that may lead to this mayhem condition,” claims psychiatrist Nilesh Naphade.

He gives an example of how his 15-year-old patient ended up starving herself for weeks together, only to be landed in a hospital with saline  bottles. And the reason of her paranoia was that she didn’t want to           be like her mother who was abused by her father for being “fat and ugly.”

Prof. Sandip Sinha – an expert at psychotherapy points out that the cause of these disorders often leading to nervous breakdowns mostly boils down to the lack of self esteem. “This especially applies to women aspiring  to model or into activities like cheerleading and dancing where the pressure to look good is tremendous. And with the competition being ruthless, young women go to any extent to achieve their dreams. Little do they realize that the consequences of their unhealthy eating habits can lead to serious hormonal imbalances, depression, irritability, kidney failure, heart failure, seizures, brain damage and even death in extreme cases,” he elaborates.

Get informed
The lack of information is often the leading culprit. For example, many teenage girls are unaware that it is normal to accumulate fat during puberty which is extremely important for normal development. Similarly, post pregnancy — do give yourself time to lose extra kilos. Before you start following a fad diet or stop eating altogether in the quest for a perfect figure, speak to your family and physician about your plans. Understand that they will want only the best for you and hence listen to their take on the issue with an open mind.

Visit a psychologist, if you must. Know that it is for your own good.

Also, keep a check on the eating habits of your near and dear ones who may be falling prey to these deadly eating disorders. If any one of them has lost more than 15 percent of weight within a month’s time and steers away from any form of food, then probably you have a problem at hand.

Remember, any case of eating disorder must be handled sensitively seeing the emotional and physical trauma the person is already going through. A few kind words and some healthy eating habits would go a long way in “shaping up.”

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