All eating disorders are different. Even though we tend to group them by the most common characteristics and create neat little categories for them, but not one disorder is the same. Anorexia, bulimia, rumination disorder, binge-eating — they work great as general guidelines for therapists and other medical professionals to determine the right course of action for patients, but rarely do they tell the whole story.
Each person with an eating disorder can only partially exhibit characteristics of a specific condition or even fit into more than one category. The causes behind each individual case are unique and they vary from social, professional, or family problems.
For some, there’s a deeper, underlying mental health condition that governs their behavior, such as depression or social anxiety. This is why it’s particularly important to analyze all situations individually, with the right amount of care and attention.
One’s personality type is also a very crucial factor in determining the course of action when combating these disorders.
Introverts and extroverts handle everything quite differently, and while an extrovert may find all the support they need in their friends and family, an introverted person would have a much tougher time sharing their problems with other people.
According to nutrition specialists from Primal Harvest, not many people are able to successfully transform their eating patterns and develop healthy habits on their own. Aside from close ones who can help people see themselves in an objective way, working with professionals is essential for a proper recovery.
This article will take a closer look at how introversion affects people with dietary disorders and how to become better at expressing your thoughts and feelings to other people, even if you usually feel most comfortable dealing with stuff on your own.
The Most Common Food Disorders
Before delving deeper into advice for introverts struggling with food problems, it’s necessary for you to understand the most widespread dietary issues related to mental health.
Regardless of whether you’re struggling with them yourself, or you want to help someone close to you, you won’t get far if you don’t know the basics.
Here are four of the conditions that affect the eating habits of millions of people worldwide:
- Anorexia nervosa. This is perhaps the most well-known eating disorder out there, as it disproportionately affects women and is infamous within the modeling and entertainment industry. Simply put, it refers to the obsessive pursuit of thinness and an intense fear of gaining weight, which leads to severe weight loss and malnutrition. A person with anorexia would generally consider themselves overweight, even if they’re actually dangerously thin. If left unchecked, severe cases of anorexia may lead to infertility, multi-organ failure, and even death.
- Bulimia nervosa. Another common disorder, bulimia, is characterized by phases of binge-eating and purging. Bulimic persons tend to eat large amounts of food at a time, and then “purge” themselves of it by vomiting. Like anorexia, bulimia stems from an obsession with one’s own body shape and weight. It can lead to an imbalance in electrolytes, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, even at a young age.
- Binge-eating disorder. This condition is very similar to bulimia nervosa, with one crucial difference — there is no purging phase. Binge-eaters tend to eat obscene amounts of food at unusual times. This is accompanied by feelings of shame and regret right after finishing eating. Unlike other disorders, bingeing leads to obesity and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes.
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Although it’s mostly observed in children, adults can develop ARFID, too. Its symptoms include the restriction of food intake, particularly foods of a certain kind, color, or texture, which has a negative effect on one’s calories and nutrients intake. It shouldn’t be mistaken with standard “picky eater” behaviors that can typically be observed in children.
Introverts and Dietary Disorders
Introversion is neither a cause of food intake disorders nor does it encourage them, but it does make dealing with these issues more difficult. They’re less likely to open up and talk to others about their problems, especially if they feel like it might be a cause of concern to their friends and close ones.
Contrary to the popular misconception, introverts don’t hate people — just because they’re more comfortable alone, doesn’t mean that they don’t care for their friends and family members. Quite the contrary — it is because they care about them that they don’t want to “bother” them with these issues.
Eating disorders may lead many introverts down a spiral of social isolation that can further perpetuate these harmful habits and potentially lead to the worst-case scenario. It’s essential to address these things and take them up with someone, preferably a professional.
If you’re not comfortable opening up to friends and family, you might find talking to a therapist much better. After all, they’re paid to listen to your problems, and they’re guaranteed not to judge. It may feel much easier to handle things on your own, but not everything can be sorted out internally. Sometimes, this tendency may actually worsen your condition.
If you’re not ready to take that leap of faith and talk to a therapist, you might prefer a more one-way option, which could also help you get on your way to recovery.
There are plenty of YouTube channels and Instagram accounts created with the sole intention to spread information and awareness about eating disorders, as well as provide tips about forming healthy habits and breaking the cycle of your disorder.
This might be the perfect starting point for people with introversion, who would otherwise struggle to get educated on these topics. Here are just some of the YouTube channels you might want to take a look at:
- Melissa A. Fabello, PhD
- Chris Henrie
- What Mia Did Next
The Bottom Line
Although eating disorders don’t discriminate between introverts and extroverts, trying to recover from them is much harder for the former, for a variety of reasons.
While one could make the argument that we’ve all become introverts in the COVID-19 days since we’ve been somewhat forced to live in isolation mode ever since the pandemic broke out, true introverts will tell you that it’s not as simple as that.
Breaking the vicious cycle of a dietary disorder is time-consuming and requires a lot of strong will. Talking through it with others might certainly be beneficial, which is something that introverted people might have difficulties with, especially when it comes to such deeply personal situations.
Hopefully, this article has helped you set the right course of action if you’re an introverted person struggling with an eating disorder all by yourself.