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Eating Disorders

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Eating disorders

Stephanie Collard

BEH/225

9/10/14
University of phoenix

Eating disorders

What is hunger? Hunger is the motivation that tells us when we need nutrients for our body. Hunger is a basic biological need that our body experiences. When we “feel hungry” our body's drive us to find sustenance. However, not all hunger drives are based on nutritional needs, there are certain biological and psychological factors that motivate our hunger. Biologically, our hunger drive comes from the hypothalamus, a gland that when given the appropriate stimulation excretes a hormone that tells your body when to be hungry and when to be sated. Biologically, this gland is motivated by homeostasis, or body equilibrium. This means that this gland is generally stimulated by specific conditions in your body, such as blood sugar, chemicals in the blood stream, or body temperature. Once the optimal conditions for your body are reached, the hypothalamus will send out a hormone that tells your body it is full, and to stop eating. Non biological factors are when we are motivated to eat even when our hypothalamus is not sending any cues. Factors such as stress, boredom, certain smells, or just having food in front of you can cause a motivation to eat. Alternatively, developing an aversion to foods is quite easy, if you associate certain foods with nausea or illness, or if you ate a lot of a specific food during childhood due to poverty or other unhappy circumstances, you may try to actively avoid this food and receive no enjoyment if made to consume it. Cultural values on certain foods can also increase your willingness to eat, or aversion to certain foods. While eating disorders are in part biological, they also have many cultural and external drives as well. In America, highly processed, high fat, high sugar foods, and a “fast food” mentality has caused an epidemic of obesity, while, for example, in France the rate of obesity is much lower due to the cultural norms of smaller portion size, and lingering over meals. In one classic experiment that studied two groups of rats, the ones fed a high fat, high sugar diet over ate much much more than the second group, which was fed a healthy blend of grains. “scarfing” or quickly eating a meal can also contribute to overeating, as it takes the body ten minutes for the hypothalamus to signal your body that you are full. Therefore, eating more slowly will help to reduce the risk of overeating. Anorexia Nervosa, most often referred to as simply “anorexia” is an eating disorder that involves voluntarily starving oneself. The Anorexic person often still has their intrinsic hunger drive, in fact their hypothalamus may be working overtime from the malnutrition, but due to a psychological need to lose weight they will often refuse to eat or seek food. anorexia is a very dangerous disorder which causes a great many health problems, and if the subject cannot overcome their aversion to food, they may very likely die from starvation and malnutrition. Bulemia Nervosa is another severe eating disorder, usually referred to simply as bulemia, a bulemic person will eat the appropriate amount of food, or even gorge themselves on food, but then “purge” either through the use of laxatives, or by self induced vomiting. Bulemia also is a disorder that causes great damage to the body including damage to the nose and throat, swollen glands, reduced sex drive, stroke, and even death. These disorders, while most common among women are on the rise in men. Media portrayals of idealized beauty and attractiveness, as well as the increasing trendiness involved in dieting and exercise have contributed to a distorted self-image amongst people suffering from disorders. Beauty ideals created by the media are very dangerous to self image because they are unattainable. Images of already beautiful women are edited, air brushed, lengthened and trimmed until the woman is almost unrecognizable in real life, and then released in magazines and on posters as the ideal. An increasingly busy lifestyle may also be a contributing factor. Many times, self imposed eating disorders are a way for the subject to feel as though they have more “control” over themselves. The compliant and obedient daughter may have anorexia due to her desire to maintain a “perfect” image, while the bulimic typically is obsessed with food, the thought of food, and guilt from eating, therefor in order to gain control over their emotions they eat to satisfy their hunger, and then purge to satisfy their guilt. Motivations such as self image and guilt may seem intrinsic at first, but they are typically caused by cultural norms, media portrayals, and peer pressure to look or act a certain way, which would actually make them extrinsic motivations. Cultural norms as a whole do play a great role in this extrinsic motivation. As stated, America has an obesity epidemic. With our availability and preference for high fat, high calorie foods and our cultural pride in massive portion sizes, overeating is extremely common place, whereas in places such as Asia small portions of healthy, high nutrient foods are part of the daily culture. In cultures that are often praised for their gourmet cuisine, such as Italy and France, smaller portions made with fresh ingredients that are enjoyed over time are most common. So what is hunger? Hunger is a primary motivation that is controlled biologically, and psychologically. Often we mistake our psychological hunger as a need for sustenance; however, this is not always the case. Hunger is not only about how the body changes physiologically, but it is about how we feed our mind and body together, not just by the food we put into our mouths, but also by the material that we put into our minds and by the environment we live in.

References
9781285519517, Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior with Concept Maps and Reviews, Thirteenth Edition, Coon/Mitterer - © Cengage Learning. All rights reserved. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring08/articles/spring08pg17-19.html - Understanding Eating Disorders http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/hunger.htm – Hunger and Eating

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