Eating Disorders and Perfectionism

Eating Disorders and PerfectionismOne cause of eating disorders is the need to live up to high expectations and a perfect body image as defined by peers, the media, the general public or parental figures. One common eating disorder is anorexia. Anorexia is both an eating disorder and a psychological disorder, and the person who is afflicted with anorexia avoids food by skipping out on meals, taking diet pills to control appetite or over-exercising. This disorder is highly dangerous, as the body is not getting the nutrition it needs to maintain physical or emotional health.

Bulimia is an eating disorder that involves binge eating sprees followed by self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse. This is a more violent form of an eating disorder, as the body is put through a rigorous process of elimination. Severe damage can be done to the esophagus, intestines and stomach lining.

Looking for Control through Eating Disorders

Many of those who battle an eating disorder are in search of control. Eating disorders provide visible results based on specific actions, and the brain responds by putting out signals of success and reward. This drives the person to continue with disordered eating behaviors. While developing a sense of control is commonly at the center of any eating disorder, it is not the only cause or contributor to eating disorders. Other issues related to eating disorders include the following:

  • Peer pressure: Many eating disorders result from peer pressure involving fitting into a certain size, being told it is necessary to be skinny to attract boys, keeping off weight to avoid being teased at school and to look good in front of friends and classmates. The pressure to be “normal” is so intense that it often leads to extreme behaviors.
  • Social/popular media: Both social media and popular media contribute to eating disorders, as they provide an unrealistic body image and promote the message that everyone should fit that certain image. Weight and appearance are a major part of the celebrity lifestyle and are often used to judge both celebrities and everyday people.
  • Traumatic events: Traumatic events such as loss, physical abuse and surviving natural disasters are often catalysts for an eating disorder, as the person looks for a sense of control at a time when stability is lacking in their lives.
  • Failure: A sense of failure can prompt an eating disorder, as “not being good enough” can easily be blamed on outward appearance. Striving for acceptance can fuel an eating disorder.

Eating disorders have many causes, layers and related issues. Awareness of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder can help you help yourself or others. Eating disorders are common, and they disrupt lives, families and futures. Finding the appropriate treatment for an eating disorder is the best way to end the battle with bulimia, anorexia or another eating disorder.

Find a Life Free from Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, call our toll-free helpline. We are waiting to help you 24 hours a day, so please do not waste any more time trapped by disordered eating habits. Call now.