Anorexia has long been viewed by the public as either a ‘choice’ or a disease of vanity. But we now know that the common stereotype is of a young woman who diets and exercises excessively as an attention seeking behavior is not accurate. Anorexia affects all ages, gender identifies, and ethnicities. Eating is a biological process just like breathing or drinking. For example, the brain can sense when your blood is low in oxygen and increase breathing or it can tell when you are dehydrated and increase your thirst.
Hunger works in much the same way. We now understand that patients with Anorexia have a specific impairment in their metabolism that affects the brain’s ability to balance food intake with body weight. This conflict between mind and body creates many of the most impairing symptoms of Anorexia including anxiety, intrusive thoughts, body image distortions, and continued drive to lose weight. Patients with Anorexia do not choose not to eat in order to be thinner, their brains tell them that they are overweight and they constantly fight the feeling that they are doing something wrong by eating.