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Could this be an eating disorder... Whenever I am feeling stressed, overwhelmed, angry, sad, etc. I stop eating. The sight of food makes me nauseous. I go for days without realizing it.

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Hi Bella: The symptoms you

Hi Bella:

The symptoms you describe are definitely a sign that something is not quite right. Although an eating disorder can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor, there is a lot of information available to provide some answers and guide you in the right direction.

The human body is a remarkable machine! As we evolved, certain adaptations were required in order to ensure our survival. When faced with a highly stressful situation (such as the possibility of being eaten by a wild animal), it was mandatory that all the energy in the body be available for running away and escaping to a safe place. To this end, our body comes under the control of the autonomic nervous system which prepares us to fight or run away from harm. This is known as the “fight or flight response”.

During the “flight or fight response” our bodies undergo numerous physiological changes. However, the one which concerns us here involves redirecting blood flow away from our digestive tract and towards the limbs and muscles. This provides a surge of energy for a sudden physical reaction to the threat. Of course, this is just one of many reactions to danger, but as you can imagine – our bodies are not designed to cope with digesting food at the same time as responding to a serious and stressful event.

Fortunately, most of us do not have to worry about being attacked by wild animals nowadays. However, the evolutionary response which served us so well when faced with physical harm, may also occur during periods of high anxiety and stress. There is a link between feeling overwhelmed by emotions associated with a stressful event (such as the ones you describe), and feeling nauseous and not wanting to eat. Often, people with eating disorders suffer from high anxiety.

It is concerning that you sometimes go for days without food, as our bodies need regular nourishment in order to stay healthy. I would urge you to talk to a counselor or health professional in order to get more information, and put your mind at ease regarding the possibility of an eating disorder.

Take care.

Amy