The Effects of an Eating Disorder on the Mind and Body

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By Sofia Ramirez

Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder, Medical issues 

In our generation, people often romanticize eating disorders. I used to be one of those people until I lived through it. During recovery I learned a lot about what an eating disorder really is, and what it can do to you.  

Effects on the Mind: 

  Eating disorders can cause obsessive thinking as well as intrusive thoughts. When an individual has an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, they begin to obsess over food and numbers. All this individual can think about is how to lower their intake but still feel full. It is a constant battle between your mind and body. Your body is constantly telling you that it is being deprived of nutrients, but your mind keeps denying your needs. You are constantly thinking about how hungry you are but you refuse to give in. It’s a terrible cycle. Not only that, but your brain starts to memorize the amount of calories in certain foods and either labeling them as safe foods and bad foods depending on the amount of calories in each item. Safe foods are foods you feel comfortable eating due to the low number of calories in it, bad foods are foods that you refuse to eat strictly because of the higher number of calories.  

Another thing that eating disorders do is change your mindset. Individuals with eating disorders strive to eat a small amount of calories a day. Achieving this goal will give them a sense of satisfaction and pride, however, failing to do so will leave them feeling ashamed and angry with themselves. Sadly, some of the most terrible things give them a sense of satisfaction. A bonier body makes them feel good, but when medical issues start to arise as consequences of that body, it feels better. Even telling them that they look malnourished and unhealthy encourages them to continue to restrict themselves. It’s a sign that the methods they are using are working in their favor. It’s such a terrible thing, and the reason it is so dangerous. For this reason, it takes several years for an individual to recover. 

Effects on the Body: 

Eating disorders affect you physically as well. Individuals will see a change in their weight, some drastically lose weight, and others gain it. For those who lose weight, their skin will turn pale or have a yellow hue, the skin around their eyes will darken, and their hair will start to fall out. The amount of body hair you have such as your arm and leg hair will increase due to your body trying to keep itself warm. The consequences, depending on methods, that occur inside the body are low blood pressure, low heart rate, low body temperature, loss of menstrual cycle, muscle loss, slow metabolism, acid reflux, decaying teeth, bad breath, lack of vitamins, anemia, digestive issues, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, irritability, and the list goes on. You are dying, but your mind disguises these things as successes.  

For those who gain weight, depending on their methods, could be decaying teeth, bad breath, insulin boosts, water retention, accelerated heart rate, accelerated blood pressure, diabetes type 2, decreased muscle accumulation, increased fat accumulation, nutritional deficiencies, anemia, circulatory issues, and the list goes further.  

Eating disorders aren’t a cute thing to have, it is a nightmare to go through. It can literally kill people, people you love and care about. So before you romanticize this again, think to yourself “Is a thinner body really worth it? Worth my life?” and I assure you, it is not. You are perfect, just as you are.  

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