Know All About Anorexia Nervosa; The Dieter’s Eating Disorder

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Medically reviewed by  Ashwathy V. Pillai,  Postgraduate Degree in Dietetics & Applied Nutrition

Anorexia nervosa arises from skewed body image which in turn leads to extreme dieting and sickly thinness. The world is fast inching towards fitness but unfortunately, without realizing that adopting the right way to attain that fitness is the most important.

Losing weight the right way is about finding a balance, in which habits work for us and determine what changes we need to make.

Many of us adopt shortcuts like starving ourselves to flaunt six abs which is not at all healthy and recommended.

These short cuts takes a toll on our health in the long run which we realise later and one such complication that many of us are suffering from these days  is the eating disorder,  Anorexia Nervosa.

People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that leads to severe weight loss. People suffering from this disorder suffer from extremely low body weight.

The people suffering from this life threatening disease only worry about gaining weight and becomes so obsessive that they are only occupied with their calorie intake. People with anorexia nervosa eat an extremely low calorie diet and have an excessive fear of gaining weight.

They often feel better about themselves when they lose weight and exercise excessively. Anorexia is most commonly diagnosed in adolescent women, but it has been diagnosed in older and younger women and in men too.

Types of anorexia nervosa

Restricting Type:

The person restricts their food intake on their own and does not engage in binge-eating or purging behaviour.

Binge Eating/Purging Type:

The person self-induces vomiting or misuses laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

Facts about this eating disorder

1. The cause of anorexia nervosa is still not fully known

Anorexia nervosa is a complex disease, and the cause isn’t fully known. However, some of the factors that may lead to eating disorders include genetics, psychological health, environment, trauma, and biology.

2. Most people usually don’t seek treatment

Only one out of every 10 people with anorexia will ever seek treatment. The main problem is that part of the population believes that anorexia is not a real disease.

3. 10% are men who suffer from anorexia nervosa

Although anorexia is far more common in women, men make up approximately 10% of those suffering from the disease. Often men are under and undiagnosed with anorexia because of its prevalence in females.

4. Treatment is complex but attainable

Recovery from anorexia is possible, even for someone who has been living with the disease for many years.

Anorexia is often treated in an outpatient setting, but hospitalization may be necessary in some situations. The path to recovery can be long and challenging, but having the right type of support from family friends and specialists can really make a difference.

Causes of anorexia nervosa

This eating disorder is based on genetics, personality traits, and environmental factors.

Examples of environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of this eating disorder are:

  • Constant reinforcement of thin people as the role models.
  • Professions and careers that promote being thin and weight loss, such as modelling and acting.
  • Family and childhood traumas: childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma.
  • Peer pressure among friends and co-workers to be thin and sexy.
  • Biological factors include: Irregular hormone functions and genetics.

Signs and symptoms of this eating disorder

An individual suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa may reveal one or several signs and symptoms such as:

  • Excessive dieting or exercising.
  • Rapid weight loss and being significantly underweight. Obsession with calories and fat contents of food.
  • Amenorrhea: an abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of three consecutive menstrual cycles.
  • Depression or lethargic stage.
  • Development of soft, fine hair that grows on face and body.
  • Reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities.
  • Loss or thinning of hair.
  • Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn.

Dieting vs anorexia nervosa

The symptoms of anorexia and dieting are similar but there is a stark difference between the two. The primary goal of people who are dieting is to lose weight in the right way but people suffering from anorexia perceive losing weight as a way to achieve happiness and self-mastery.

Dieting never propagates starvation it actually motivates people to eat right and exercise right but in anorexia people maintain a below-normal weight through starvation or too much exercise.

How to treat this eating disorder

The first goal of Anorexia treatment is getting back to a healthy weight. You can’t recover from anorexia without returning to a healthy weight and learning proper nutrition. Those involved in this process may include:

  1. Doctor who can provide medical care and supervise your calorie needs and weight gain.
  2. A psychologist or other mental health professional, who can work with you to develop behavioural strategies to help you return to a healthy weight.
  3. A dietician, who can offer guidance getting back to regular patterns of eating, including providing specific meal plans and calorie requirements that help you meet your weight goals.
  4. Your family, who will likely be involved in helping you maintain healthy eating habits.

If you think you or someone you know is developing an eating disorder, it is vital to get help as soon as possible. Untreated eating disorders can affect your health for a very long time.

There are a variety of therapy styles to consider from behavioural to group therapy. Additionally sufferers will need to make lifestyle changes that support a positive self-image.

Seek out a mental health professional with experience in treating anorexia, and also consult with a nutritionist that can help craft healthy, rejuvenating menus and teach you about good eating habits.


What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that leads to severe weight loss. People suffering from this disorder suffer from extremely low body weight. They follow harmful weight loss practices and are nutrient deficient. 

What are the signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa?

Bad eating habits or excessive dieting. Rapid weight loss and unhealthy pallor all over. Lack of energy and mood swings. Depression and severe social withdrawal signs. Thinness in skin quality and hair fall.   

How to deal with and treat anorexia nervosa?

First step is psychiatric help to deal with body image issues.Consult a doctor for a full health check up followed by advice from nutritionist to eat the right diet for gradual health gain.

If you are a obsessive about looking fit and thin you have to be seriously wary of developing this eating disorder. Try to adopt a healthy and nutrition based lifestyle devoid of starvation.

And to achieve this, seek guidance of our expert Possible Nutritionist who will guide you towards a healthy and blissful life through natural foods. The first consultation is on us! Click here to avail.

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