How to deal with Anorexia among kids
By Apoorva Joshi
People often believe that an eating disorder is somewhat like going on a diet or just trying to eat less. However, it can actually be very serious and may lead to severe illnesses that can be dangerous to a child’s wellbeing. What exactly qualifies as an eating disorder? It is a condition in which people face severe disturbances in their eating patterns and the thoughts and emotions around it. It may involve eating either too much or too little food or having a skewed perception of yourself etc. People of any gender, race, and age can get affected by an eating disorder. In this post, you will know more about one of the eating disorders called Anorexia.
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia is a condition in which a person
- restricts the food intake severely
e.g. never finishes the meals, avoids occasions to eat with other friends/family members
- has intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat even if he/she is underweight
e.g. checks the weight way too often, is conscious of looking/being called fat
- always tries to lose weight
e.g. constantly eats less or exercises more to lose weight, dresses up in a way that hides one’s shape
- has a low self-esteem due to his/her body weight or shape
e.g. loses confidence because of the weight/shape, talks about being fat
- is unable to maintain body weight appropriate for his/her age and height
e.g. BMI can be close to or below 18 kg/m2
Is Anorexia harmful?
In a world where we all know how much trouble obesity can lead to, everyone is encouraging weight loss. So, is anorexia good for that? Absolutely not. It is a disorder in which the child may suffer from many physical and mental issues. Here are certain issues that anorexia may lead to:
- Unhealthy relationship with food
- Loss of confidence
- Brittle hair and nails
- Very dry and pale skin
- Low blood pressure
- Lethargy or sluggishness
- Stomach ache
- Delayed menstrual cycle in girls
What can you do?
Since we know how dangerous Anorexia can be, it is important to know what we can do about it.
If you are someone who can relate to some of the symptoms listed above:
- You are not defined by what you eat or how much you weigh. So, do not worry about that. You can eat anything you like without feeling guilty.
- You are not wrong in making an effort to achieve something. However, you may be trying to be at a certain weight which may not suit your body. There can be other ways of achieving greater health. You can reach out to professionals like nutrition counsellor and therapists to find out how you can make an effort in the direction in which it will help your body and mind.
- Your family and friends would love to help you choose what you want to do to feel better. So, feel free to talk to them about your concerns.
If you know someone around you who may be having anorexia:
- Understand that anorexia is much more than just a lifestyle choice. They may be suffering both physically and mentally. So, do not say things like “Just eat more food and you’ll be fine”. Understand why they developed such a wrong perception about food and weight to start with. It may have involved social pressure and/or emotional issues that need to be resolved to get them out of this disorder.
- Let them know that they are loved and cared for irrespective of their weight and eating habits.
- Encourage them to seek help from a counsellor. Accompany them for their appointments if they are comfortable with it.