Potential trigger(s): Please note I will be talking variables of eating disorders
When eating disorders come to mind, for most, people think of the most common like anorexia and bulimia. Eating disorders like these, stem from a psychological disturbance. Whether you have control issues consuming you, a traumatic stressor, or low self-esteem, they come from something inside. No eating disorder patient woke up one day and consciously chose to have one. But what if a disordered mental set is uprooted by chronic disease?
How GI issues can be a direct link to a disordered mindset
To draw an example, visualize a healthy person with no past history of eating disorders, is diagnosed with Crohn’s. During their treatment, the patients’ weight spirals in every direction. For the first time in their life, they have to watch what they eat. Our subject has to then take steroids which causes whole-body bloating and increased appetite. You can only imagine how damaging this can be on someone’s well being. Their whole world has been flipped upside down and feelings of lack of control are planted.
Controlling food when everything else feels like it is failing
People with chronic diseases can uphold obsessive personnel. Implying this, their thought process can be surrounded around food exactly how a typical anorexic/bulimic is. Chronically sick people’s job, for some, is to put their energy towards their treatment and that only. Having proper nutrition and needed calories based on GI issues is a form of treatment. Food keeps us alive, and in the day of “healing diets,” patients may find themselves overly focused on it. This mindset can spur extreme food anxiety, This type of anxiety is when someone is scared to eat or be in a social situation that revolves around fear/flare foods. People with food anxiety tend to isolate themselves more and plan excessively about what they will consume next.
Why does being weighed or gaining weight effect someone sick?
Being weighed once or maybe even twice a week, by a doctor might not affect all ill people. But for the group of people who have disordered feelings about the number, it causes an issue. Weight gain or weight loss may give the patients a message of “not being healthy enough”, sense of poor body image, and lack of control. These behaviors are the same is not physically ill ED patients. Especially at the beginning of one’s treatment, body dysmorphia and poor mental health are at its peak due to the trauma of his/her physical disorder. (not saying this happens to every chronically ill sick person, but a lot of the people I have talked with have shared experiences like this). As addressed, some medication has a side effect of water retention/weight gain. Diabulmics and those on steroids are most likely to skip treatments in fear of “getting fat”. This may lead to more damaging health risks than their original diagnosis.
How can someone prevent psychological stress by chronic disease from manifesting into an eating disorder?
There is no easy, clean cut, answer. Suffering physically and mentally is extremely draining. Your body and mind have no alignment, and you feel like a stranger in it. But, it doesn’t have to suck the life out of you. We as humans need to resolve our problems with OTHERS. You may think you can handle it alone. To be honest, it’s going to be a lot more downs than ups in your personal recovery. Find someone you trust. Tell them what you are going through. Be personal with your loved ones. People care about you deeply. Individuals and others want to see you flourish even when you are sick.
Numbers are constantly thrown at the patient while at the doctor’s office. But, people who are predisposed to have disordered eating habits like physically and mentally disabled, take these variables to another plane of thought. Through every trial and tribulation in life, there is always a better path to take that fits your needs.
- With lots of love, Laura