Eating Disorder Awareness in the VIP Community
In light of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we at VIP World services want to use our platform, to help raise and share awareness on this topic. This week falls between the 1st and 7th of March 2021, and our message behind this blog post is to assist in unwrapping the layers of this disease to educate all members of our community and the general public of the importance of a consistent and balanced diet. The blog will also talk about the importance of diet and how it can impact sight as well as how Visually Impaired People (VIP) can be affected by eating disorders.
Types of Eating Disorders
Anyone can fall victim to an eating disorder as it is a severe mental and physical illness that has affected between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK, conditioning irregular eating habits where Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge eating are the most regular forms.
Moreover, eating disorders are commonly developed during adolescence in both males and females, however, there are many cases diagnosed from as young as 6 years old and as mature as 70 years old, thus anyone can develop the disease at any point in their lives.
How it affects/ impact on sight
There have been various studies connecting eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa with permanent eye damage. The British Journal of Ophthalmology conducted research on a group of women, some with Anorexia and the other’s without it and concluded that the women with the eating disorder showed their macula, located in the centre of the retina which manages central vision helps process light, was significantly decreased in comparison to the women without Anorexia. Additionally, they found that in their eyes they had less electrical energy which is vital to aid the brain to process visual signals.
Furthermore, research on Bulimia nervosa has shown that the impact of vomiting can cause broken blood vessels due to increased pressure, resulting in conjunctival haemorrhages. Vomiting has also been linked to the retinal detachment where the straining on the eye and pressure can cause the detachment of the retina from the eyeball. Therefore, these conditions are a serious threat to your sight if left untreated.
Symptoms & Treatments
There are many symptoms of eating disorders that you may not even realise are linked and connected to your condition such as: exercising more than the average person would (non-athletes), avoiding social gatherings where food is served, digestive issues, dizziness, tiredness, being overweight or underweight for someone of your age and height and even irregular periods.
The main treatment for eating disorders is talking therapy. Therapy can involve talking about your life and any problems you may have.
Therapy can be beneficial for individuals with eating disorders as it can allow them to discuss the disorder and why they may have it, with the right support and treatment you can recover from the eating disorder. You may also receive regular health checks to monitor your physical and mental health as well as medication such as vitamins.
The importance of eating a healthy, balanced and consistent diet
Taking everything written into consideration, we would also want to emphasise the importance of eating a healthy, balanced and consistent diet. There are numerous reasons why you should incorporate a balanced diet in your daily lives, as it can reduce the risk of eating disorders and other diseases such as chronic and cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes caused by poor nutrition. Not only this but eating good can make you feel good, reducing the risk of mental health disorders by consuming a diet rich in minerals and vitamins. So, what measures can you put in place?
Some suggestions could be to start off with small steps in changing your eating habits, you want to achieve your goal with realistic milestones. Under the guidance of the NHS, try and get your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables in your diet, eat more fish and oily fish, not from your local chippy but more like Salmon and Mackerel. In addition, cut down on your sugar and salt intake and drink plenty of fluids of 6-8 glasses a day. Check out the NHS website for more information, it is never too late to put your health first and take charge of feeling better.
VIP’s and their views on how they feel about their bodies
You may be wondering what the link to eating disorders and visual impairment may be, right? Eating Disorders can have an impact on your mental and physical health. Visual Impairment has been linked to diet i.e. Diabetic Retinopathy. Being Visually Impaired tends to heighten other senses such as touch and taste, as a result, VIP may find that they are more aware of their body.
When touching body parts, you can feel if you are ‘slim’ or ‘larger’ and assistive technology scales may be able to ‘read’ your weight. VIP are still able to feel their weight and this can still have an impact on mental well being, unfortunately, you may start to develop an eating disorder if you are unhappy with your weight, this needs to change.
To conclude, we want you as a reader, to recognise the severity of eating disorders and to take away the importance of prioritising your health and encourage you to eat a balanced diet. Eating a balanced diet doesn’t have to be boring, there are lots of different recipes you can try that will be delicious and healthy! Just because someone may not be able to ‘see’ their body does not mean they can’t ‘feel’ it. VIP can have eating disorders and it is important that this is recognised.