Dealing With Eating Disorders

Eating disorders including binge eating, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can be life-threatening due to general medical complications. In severe cases, patients even attempt suicide. Monitoring of medical complications in such patients becomes necessary

In the present scenario of pandemic, lifestyle of people has changed drastically. People are more likely to spend their time at home watching TV or scrolling through social media apps that may increase the hunger motivation to eat more. This triggers their pre-existing eating disorder. There are three major contributing factors to this – sociocultural, biological or psychological and environmental. 

There are two major types of eating disorder - anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is characterised by a distorted body image, with an unwarranted fear of being overweight.

People with bulimia may secretly binge - eating large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way.

"Obesity is not an eating disorder or mental disorder. But people with a higher weight are more prone to develop eating disorders as compared to the population with normal weight,” states Dr Shivani Tomar, Assistant Professor, Department Of Psychology, Noida International University.

Treatment of eating disorder depends upon our symptoms and type of disorder. It typically includes a combination of psychological therapy (psychotherapy), nutrition education, medical monitoring and sometimes medications.

"It is treatable with the help of mental health experts and family support,” Dr Tomar further adds suggesting the ways for treatment of eating disorders.

Variation in eating disorders

Millions of people suffer from a variety of eating disorders. This can be understood as ‘disturbed and unhealthy eating habit’ that might include restrictive dieting, obsessive eating or meal skipping. According to a study published by the National Eating Disorder Association, 4 out of 10 adults have either directly experienced an eating disorder or they know someone who has gone through the fostering of non-judgment, confidence and self-acceptance. Yoga has been indicated to help out in easing anger, anxiety and depression as well as improving self-esteem and a healthy body image. Regular yoga practice may assist in the restoration of emotional, mental and physical strength that is harmed due to binge eating disorders.

“On the physical level, yoga may be customised to assist digestion, ease constipation and lessen reactivity to the unpleasant process of binge eating. Wherein, on an emotional level, yoga encourages emotional connection to the person's internal world, allowing emotions, wants and longings to be grounded," highlights Dr H P Bharathi, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, explaining the impact of yoga on eating disorders. 

Stressful mental patterns that sustain eating disorders may frequently dissipate slowly with a design that first & opens the body via stretching and then completes with relaxation. During or after a yoga practice, we may be able to release feelings that have been burdening us for years.

“The practices which can be followed with yoga are Meditation, Surya Namaskar, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra. These have a positive impact on the gut and digestive system which leads to a balanced eating and inspired lifestyle. They can heal not only the body but the mind as well,” underlines Dr Deepak Mittal, Founder, Divine Soul Yoga.

Yoga helps

These are various yoga poses helpful in treating eating disorders but should be practiced under the supervision of authorised trainer. 

Child’s pose involves bending forward over the knees and putting the body on the floor or mat. Wheel pose, an upward facing bow pose which stretches our chest and lungs and strengthens your arms, legs, abdomen and spine. Mountain pose also known as Tadasana, is the easiest yoga asana which improves body balance and gut health. Bow pose provides relief in all the issues related to eating disorders and helps in digestion, constipation, stomach cramps. 

Eating disorder is a complex issue which requires professional care. Though helpful reading material are easily available out there, but the care of a qualified treatment team cannot be replaced. It is recommended to always consult an expert before making any changes to the treatment plan.


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