I used to think eating disorders can never be a problem in Nigeria, not until someone looked disapprovingly at me because it looked like I put on some weight.
Upon further observation, I found out that this person chides herself so much whenever she put on more weight than before. I learned she was seriously watching her weight.
The mere fact that she disapproved that someone as “tiny” as I am should put on some weight got me thinking.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder whereby an individual has an abnormally low body weight, immense fear of weight gain, and a bizarre perception of weight. People with this disorder go to extreme lengths to prevent weight gain and further lose weight even to the detriment of their health.
When a person is so afraid of gaining weight that he/she drastically cuts down on the amount of food intake, and counts calories, that individual might be suffering from anorexia. People with anorexia go as far as abusing laxatives, enemas, and diet aids. They may also exercise excessively.
They aim at losing weight, yet no matter how much weight they lose, it is never enough. They live in constant fear of weight gain. It is believed that anorexia may be a way people use to manage emotional issues, however, it is a very unhealthy way. These people think that their self-worth is determined by their body mass.
Symptoms include both physical and emotional symptoms. Some physical Symptoms include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bluish discolouration of the fingers
- Absence of menstruation
- Constipation and abdominal pain
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Intolerance of cold
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of arms or legs
Some emotional Symptoms include:
- Refusal to eat.
- Binge eating and vomiting after eating.
- Denying that one is hungry
- Eating only foods low in calories.
- Putting on more clothes than is necessary
- Lack of emotion
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of interest in sex
- Excessive exercise.
This disorder is not without a cure. With the right medical help, they will be on their way to recovery in no time. They should be encouraged by family members and friends to see a doctor. Anorexia can result in serious complications when not treated.
Food is essential for everyday life. When the body is denied of it for far too long, it begins to malfunction. Untreated anorexia can lead to heart problems, anaemia, bone loss, muscle loss, kidney problems, gastrointestinal problems, and hormonal imbalance, among others.
It is nice to slim down but it shouldn’t be done to the detriment of one’s health.