Stress Due to Eating Disorders

Most of the individual take out their frustration on food. It is more recurrent in students .They have erratic eating habits. The stress level rises to the extent that it affects hunger drive of an individual. Most students refused to have a balanced diet when exams are at the threshold. Eating and enjoying food is an essential part of being alive. The nutrition derive from food keeps us healthy, alert, and feeling good. The tastes and smells of food are some of the nicest pleasures in life. Sharing food is an important way for friends and family to come together. So, how can food be a problem?

Everybody needs to eat to live – food is a very important part of people’s lives. People like different foods and need different amounts of food. Just as people have different hair colour, they have different bodies, heights, bone structures and builds. Body fat is stored in different places in our bodies, due to our genes. It is most important to have a healthy body weight (and a certain amount of body fat ) to keep our bodies working. Most people are unhappy with their bodies some of the time – thinking they are too fat, too thin, or just the wrong shape. This can be especially true for teenagers whose bodies are changing a lot, often very quickly.

Many people try out diets and usually this is not a problem. However, sometimes, eating patterns can become unhealthy, for example if you eat too much or too little because you are feeling unhappy or stressed. It can be easier to control the way you eat than to cope with painful feelings. Over time, this can become dangerous to your emotional and physical health. There are different kinds of eating problems and disorders – some are more serious than others. All eating difficulties are worrying. It is when young people and their parents are troubled by the young person’s seating habits , losing weight and taking up so much time thinking about it all, that these are what we call eating problems. In most cases these worries can be lived with; they pass with time and with the help and support of parents, friends, teachers and GPs.

There are other young people, however, whose eating problems become much more serious and extreme. Their not eating or over-eating builds up and persists over many months so that their physical health, and in some cases even their lives, can be put at high risk. Their everyday life at home and in school may well be seriously disrupted. These young people are not at all well, either physically or emotionally. It is when eating problems like this reach such a disturbing level that specialists use the term eating disorders – the most severe disorders being called anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Sometimes people use these terms to cover all kinds of eating problems. The shorter terms anorexia and bulimia (or anorexic and bulimic) are more appropriately used for the less extreme though still worrying eating problems – for example a loss of appetite which may primarily have a physical cause.

Eating problems and disorders are more common in girls than boys, but people from all backgrounds and of all ages can suffer too. Eating problems and disorders are not just about food, they are about feelings.

Our society sends out mixed messages about food, messages that are contradictory and very destructive. On the one hand, we are bombarded with images of delicious food and urged to eat, eat, and eat. On the other hand, and this is especially true for women, images of thin-very thin- young models are presented to us as a physical ideal.

These mixed messages combined with other factors can lead some to develop problems with their eating habits. We call these problems “Eating Disorders,” since they affect normal, healthy functioning.

Eating disorders develop over time. In our culture, dieting has become the norm. It is estimated that from 60 to 80% of American women are on diets. Studies show that manyeating disorders begin when dieting gets out of control. Eating disorders are about 10 times as common in women as in men.

Many college-age women restrict food intake, resulting in severe weight loss. Ten to 20% of college-age women binge on large amounts of food and eliminate the food by vomiting, using laxatives, severe fasting, and/or over-exercising. These practices lead to secrecy and isolation, guilt and shame, and other negative feelings about oneself.

Possible Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are usually caused by interplay of several factors. These can be generally grouped into Cultural Pressures, Biological Factors, and Psychological Factors

1. Cultural and Social Pressures

No one can escape the continual bombardment of images of thin young girls as being the most attractive and the most successful. Even some young men feel they must maintain a slender build. College students are especially susceptible to such messages.

Of course, we all know we are seeing models in these images, models posing in beautiful photographs in order to sell us something. The truth is that these beautiful faces and bodies often hide a sad, unhealthy inner world. Some of these models are naturally thin; others have to resort to artificial and destructive means to be that way.

2. Biological Factor

Let us face it. Not everyone is naturally thin or beautiful. We inherit a basic body type from our parents: we are tall, or short or medium in height. We may tend to be lean and muscular or we may tend to be heavy. Some people are overweight early in life and become thinner later. Some are thin most of their lives and experience weight gain later in life. Studies have found that there may be a significant hereditary component in developingeating disorders . People with a history of depression or alcoholism in their family are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those without such family history.

While we cannot change our basic body type, we can work to have the healthiest body within that type. It is important to remember that bout of purging, severe fasting, or excessive exercise can disrupt the body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. They are counterproductive, to say the least.

3. Psychological Factor

Eating disorders are often a signal that the person has other problems like being a perfectionist, lacking assertiveness skills, and/or having low self-esteem. Some students find it hard to deal with the pressures of college life, especially if there is the added burden of high expectations from the family.

The pleasure of food can appear to be a refuge and solace for problems- “Comfort Food” carried to the extreme! However, it is a temporary “fix.”

Now take a look at the rest of the information to see if food is a problem for you, what you can do if you or one of your friends have an eating problem, and what resources are available to help you out.

Is Food a Problem For You?

If you think food might be a problem, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you constantly think about eating, body weight and body size?
  2. Do you find yourself panicking if you cannot exercise as planned, for fear of gaining weight?
  3. When friends say that you are too thin, do you refuse to believe them because you feel fat?
  4. If you are a female, has your menstrual period ceased or become irregular due to no known medical reason?
  5. Do you go on eating binge and cannot stop until you feel sick?
  6. Do you weigh yourself several times each day?
  7. Have you ever taken laxatives or forced yourself to vomit after eating?
  8. Do you feel guilty after eating?
  9. Do you drink lots of liquids (water or soda) to “fill up” so you are not hungry?

If you answered yes to some of these, you may have an eating disorders or you may be developing one. Notice the words in boldface type. They indicate frequency and intensity of feelings or behaviors. These are often warning signs that a problem with food exists.

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