Sunday, October 25, 2009

How can anerexic people survive?

i was just wondering cause i know i wouldn't be able to live w/out eating. it would be better if an anerexic person was to answer this or if someone knew someone who was anerexic.
Well as a nurse I would be happy to give you a simple, short explanation.
To answer this, first I will define. Anorexia is the loss of appeptite. It can be seen with depression, fever, malaise, certain illnesses or as the side effect of some medications such as chemotherapy for cancer. It can also be seen in alcoholism and drug addiction such as cocaine. The type of anorexia I believe you are referring to is known as anorexia nervosa. This is defined as an eating disorder marked by weight loss, emaciation, a disturbing body image, and a fear of weight gain. People with this disorder lose weight by excessive dieting and purging of calories. So how can one survive without eating?
In prehistoric times, man's body became adapted to the environment by evolving to live through times of starvation. However, in modern times it is very unlikely that one would need to survive for months without eating. But our bodies are still equiped with many mechanisms and processes to help us survive.
Your body responds to lack of food which is energy by slowing down cellular processes. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns energy at rest, just to keep all your normal body functions going. (ie: heart beating). The metabolism slows to preserve energy, and relies on stored glucose for energy. Next the body uses stored fat and changes it to glucose for energy. Eventually, if the body is still not getting the food it requires it will break down muscle to use as energy. A person may become more tired, fatigued, malaised, and soforth. This is known as cachexia, or muscle wasting. After a sustained period of time without nourishment, the person will go into full on organ failure. The kidneys will shut down. The liver will die. and so on and so forth. There is also a danger of sudden cardiac death if starvation continues.So thankfully, if we are ever stranded on a deserted island, our bodies will survive on very little (nuts %26 berries). But eventually if the rescue ship doesn't show up for a while, we'd better learn to fish and hunt because death is the only alternative.In the above explanation, I do not mean to make light of the disorder. Society has alot to do with it though. We are raised in a culture where food is boundless and endless. Yet we are bombarded with images of rail thin girls on magazines and music videos. Society has told us that being 5'11" and 112 lbs is beautiful. Young girls think they need to starve themselves so they will be thought of as beautiful. I say, lets stop giving our money over to the magazines and designers who hire these rail thin models. Let's start paying to see REAL girls and women. REAL meaning a girl who is 5'5" and 135 or 145.
Sadly, if someone is unable to overcome their anorexia, they don't survive.
Anorexia, even if overcome, can lead to long-term health complications as organs can be damaged by starvation. Karen Carpenter (of 'The Carpenters') was anorexic for a time and I have often seen quotes attributing her early death to her being anorexic. In fact, having overcome anorexia, she died due to heart failure - her heart having been weakened during the time she was anorexic.
Well, actually 1/5 of them don't survive. They fool themselves into believing that they don't NEED food. Many of them figure out the minimum amount of calories per day to survive, however, and eat just that amount and stop as soon as they reach it every day. Others are forced to eat by family and friends occasionally so that fuel keeps them going. And others enter recovery clinics or are hospitalized constantly where they are forcefed just so they can live.
In reality, you don't ENTIRELY stop eating. You just are VERY particular about what you eat and limit the number of calories you eat each day. Certain foods become "safe" foods. You actually burn more calories digesting some foods than there are in the food itself, so those foods are great. Calories are really important too - keeping to less than 800 a day, etc. (oh, and it's anorexic, not anerexic and saying someone is anorexic means they don't have an appetite. If you're refering to people with an eating disorder you say they have anorexia nervosa)
It's amazing how durable the human body is. Even in extreme situations we can endure a heck of a lot of pain. I was anorexic years ago and though that's a long time in the past, it's something I will never forget. What happens is that after you lose your water weight and 'usable' energy the human body will start eating itself. It will eat at its muscles because they store energy, it will eat at your fat reserves because they are also full of energy and nutrients. Your stomach will physically become smaller so that you feel full easier; your body tries to compensate for the pain it feels from having no energy. Your metabolism slows down drastically because any energy that you DO give your body needs to be reserved. In the end if you are truly anorexic you will die, either from starvation or from one of the myriad of other health problems it can cause. Generally after someone recovers (usually after many relapses) their metabolism stays the same so they become overweight. I went from 85lbs to about 40lbs overweight in less than 6 months when I began eating again, and then had to struggle with finding a healthy way to lose the weight and keep it off. Basically an anorexic is so overcome by emotion turmoil that the physical effects seem bearable to them, even if they wouldn't be bearable to a 'normal' person. I realize I used 'you' a lot in this post and I do not actually mean you, just a person in genearl. Cheers.
well my best friend (whose now in recovery) figured out her basal metabolic rate and ate less than half of that and exercised like mad. looking back now, she says that it was an endurance test for her, the less she ate, the stronger and more worthwhile a person she believed herself to be.

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