An eating disorder is a mental disorder described by abnormal eating habits which negatively affect an individual’s mental or physical health. An estimated 30 million individuals of all genders and ages suffer from an eating disorder in the United States.
The most common types of eating disorders include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Bulimia Nervosa (BN)
It is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. People with this condition have a fear of gaining weight; however, unlike anorexics, who commonly must work to hide signs of self-starvation, many sufferers with BN are of normal weight or even slightly overweight.
The lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa in the US is 1.5 percent in women and 0.5 percent in men
There are two common types of BN:
- non-purging type – in this form of BN, the sufferer will use other inappropriate methods of compensation for binge episodes;
- purging type – in this form of BN, the sufferer will regularly engage in abuse of diuretics, laxatives, or enemas or self-induced vomiting after a period of bingeing.
The cause of this condition is not exactly known; however, it most likely results from a combination of family behaviors, genetics, social values, or perfectionism.
Symptoms of BN include:
- depression, disparaging self-criticism, feelings of guilt and shame during and after episodes of purging and binging;
- excessive exercise, usually accompanying periods of fasting to counteract binge episodes;
- binge/purge behavior at least once every third day for a period of 90 days or longer;
- episodes of purging to get rid of just-consumed food immediately;
- episodes of consuming excessively large amounts of food in a short period of time;
- excessive concern about body weight;
- obsessive preoccupation with food.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN)
It is a psychological and potentially life-threatening eating disorder. People suffering from this condition are usually suffering from an extremely low body weight relative to their body type and height.
According to research, possible causes of AN include factors, like – genetics, personality, biochemistry, environment, and overall emotional and psychological health.
It most frequently occurs in young women during the teenage years; however, lately, there are more and more cases of AN in pre-teen boys and girls.
- distorted body image, which is influenced mainly by perceptions of body shape and weight;
- intense fear of gaining weight;
- extreme thinness;
- unwillingness to maintain normal body weight;
- a relentless pursuit of thinness;
- extremely restricted eating.
Complications may include:
- kidney problems;
- electrolyte abnormalities;
- heart problems;
- gastrointestinal problems;
- loss of muscle;
- increased risk of fracture.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
It is a serious condition described by uncontrollable eating and resulting in weight gain. This eating disorder is typically caused by a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. About fifty percent of all patients with BED have a history of depression.
Signs and symptoms of BED include:
- frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss;
- feeling disgusted, depressed, guilty, ashamed, or upset about eating;
- often eating in secret or alone;
- eating until he is uncomfortably full;
- eating rapidly during binge episodes;
- eating even when he is not hungry;
- eating unusually large amounts of food over a 2-hour period.
Spiritual Meaning of Bulimia
Forced food reflects a hunger for life, love, and emotional feeding. There is a need for inner filling that desperately tries to fill you physically, as long as you can not find another way to do it.
Frequently, the individual is very insecure and is afraid of loss. Learn to accept yourself, and you will find it much easier to open the limitations of your own ego and to acquire spiritual food as well. At the same time, become aware of the fact that there is an unlimited source of love and self-fulfillment; all you have to do is find it and use it.
Spiritual Meaning of Anorexia Nervosa
This disturbance especially affects young girls during puberty. It symbolizes the unconscious who wants to escape the physical aspects of femininity and sexuality and manifests itself in a desire for purity and self-abnegation.
If you experience this dissatisfaction, try to accept your feminine side, your desire for enthusiasm, privacy, and sexuality. Remember that only when you accept all the areas of life will you be able to reach the self in its wholeness and gain real freedom.
Spiritual Meaning of Binge Eating Disorder
If you have an excessive desire to eat, especially sweets, you have probably lost the “sweetness” of life that in turn reflects an uncontrolled hunger for love. In childhood, this indicates that the little ones are not loved enough.
If you have an excessive desire for food, give yourself love and recognition, and fully accept yourself. You will then be able to offer love to others and experience a real change in your life.