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Eating Disorder

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This paper investigates the literature available on eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia. It establishes possible solutions to these disorders, especially with regards to women’s voices as contained in “Women’s Feminist Voices Visions”. In addition, the paper provides a reference to a particular medical organization that may have the best remedies to the stated medical conditions. 

Eating disorders are abnormal eating practices characterized by either too much or too little food intake which can cause harm to a person’s health physically or mentally. Common examples of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. This essay is set out to discuss anorexia and bulimia, giving possible solutions for each (Latner and Wilson, 2000).

Anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder depicted by the excessive weight loss and an illogical fear of gaining weight. As highlighted, people with this condition fear gaining weight, and therefore, limit the amount of food they take. A person with anorexia is usually obsessed with having a thin body and constantly worries about how much they weigh. They are usually on the strict diets, have strange eating habits, tend to over exercise and are constantly checking out their bodies. Anorexics achieve intake regulation either by restricting consumption or by purging. In purging, swallowed food is expelled from the body by inducing vomiting or using laxatives to pass it all out in the rear end (Vandereycken, 2003).

There has been no definite cause of anorexia established so far, but the research has pointed out that the genetic predisposition as a likely cause. There are also suggestions that it could be due to a hypothalamic dysfunction. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain responsible for regulation of metabolic functions and body processes, such as vomiting and hunger. Incidentally, a large portion of anorexic patients are female-about 95%. According to blogger Diana DeBella, society and media are responsible for the standards that women are supposed to conform to. There is a notion that an attractive woman should not be fat. This is portrayed by the physiques of ladies that contest in beauty pageants and advertisements. Anorexia can be treated using two main approaches (Whisenant and Smith, 1995).

Firstly, since an anorexic patient has lost significant amount of weight, it is important to reinstate their healthy weight back. This can be achieved by providing nutritional therapy and giving them mineral supplements, such as zinc. Secondly, some anorexic patients succumb as a result of psychological problems, such as self-esteem issues. It would be imperative then to treat these psychological disorders. Cognitive behavior therapy has particularly been found to be useful, especially in adolescent patients. It attempts to modify the misconceptions about weight and appearance. Drug therapy is incorporated in psychological treatment where medications, such as olanzapine, have proved to be helpful. Olanzapine is an anti-psychotic drug that treats neurological disorders believed to trigger anorexia (Vandereycken, 2003).

Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder which is characterized by eating large amounts of food rapidly followed by purging. There exist two types: Purging and Non-purging type. The purging type involves removal of food from the body soon after the consumption by inducing the gag reflex, using emetics or laxatives. The non-purging type involves periods of fasting or over exercising following binging in an attempt to compensate for the over-eating (Latner and Wilson, 2000).

The causes of bulimia can be categorized as being biological or social. For instance, biological causes of bulimia include genetic predisposition. This means bulimia is likely to be an inherited condition, and that children whose parents were/are bulimic are more susceptible to developing it. Serotonin levels abnormality has also been shown to cause bulimia. Generally, hormonal irregularities are known to be likely causes (Vandereycken, 2003).

Society again, just like in anorexia, acts as a big influence, especially towards young women in triggering bulimia. The media portrays the ‘ideal woman’ as being slim. This makes ladies become self-conscious of their appearance resulting in the binge-purge cycle. Consequently, bulimia develops. They become obsessed with the idea of becoming slim that they are ready to try just about anything to achieve that ideal body. Such individuals end up starving themselves then over-eat and finally purge. Eating, therefore, becomes just a sensation and not a source of nutrients to the body (Whisenant and Smith, 1995).

The symptoms of bulimia are numerous. This paragraph outlines the major ones. Severe dental erosion arises as a result of the contact between gastric acid of the stomach and the teeth during emesis. Constipation is a common occurrence, since bulimics usually eat to the full, leaving no room for proper digestion or churning of food. Patients with bulimia usually present with dehydration due to excessive fluid loss during vomiting (Vandereycken, 2003).

The first line of treatment for bulimia is therapy. This involves attending counseling sessions to help identify and solve these causes of bulimia. Normally, the first step involves returning to normal eating habits. This will help break the binge-purge cycle. The patients are also advised to eat meals on a regular basis and avoid circumstances that may lead them purge. To help break this cycle, bulimics are equipped with skills that would help them handle stress in ways other than binging (Latner and Wilson, 2000).

Specifically for ladies, it is important to try and reform their beliefs about appearance and weight. Physical appearance could serve as a serious stimulant that leads to bulimia. Therapists will, therefore, try and explore the views of the patients on their appearance and try and change it, emphasizing that ‘slim’ is not always attractive, while trying to repair their damaged self-esteem. In some cases, hypnotherapy has been used in treatment of bulimia with positive results. This involves the use of hypnosis to reverse the bulimic beliefs and traits (Vandereycken, 2003).

In conclusion, eating disorders pose a serious risk to the patients affected and should be handled with utmost care and sensitivity. Therapy has proved to exhibit outstanding results in reversing this condition and is, therefore, highly recommended for both anorexia and bulimia. The women-folk should particularly be counseled about their appearance and weight in order for them to embrace their own bodies. 

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