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Future Health






Understanding Eating Disorders

March 28, 2022 

Being healthy can be difficult for some, especially those who struggle with an eating disorder. An Eating Disorder (ED) is a disturbance with one’s thoughts, emotions and eating behaviors. One may be preoccupied with food, body weight and their shape. There are three common types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

 

Someone who has Anorexia Nervosa, may avoid or restrict the food they eat, or eat in small quantities of certain foods. They also may weigh themselves repeatedly. Most people who struggle with anorexia nervosa may be underweight, but still think they are overweight. There are two subtypes: restrictive and binge-purge. Restrictive limits the amount and type of food consumed while binge-purging has restrictive episodes of binge-eating followed by vomiting and laxatives. Anorexia nervosa can be fatal. Compared to other mental health disorders, anorexia nervosa has an extremely higher death rate.

            Symptoms:

            ~ Restrictive eating                             ~ Extreme thinness (emaciation)

            ~ Brittle hair & nails                            ~ Distorted body image & more                                 

 

Like the subtype, binge-purge, Bulimia Nervosa is where one has recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food but have a lack of control over the episodes. These episodes are then followed by either vomiting, laxatives, fasting, excessive exercising or a combination of the behaviors. A person with bulimia nervosa can be slightly over or underweight or even normal weight.

            Symptoms:

            ~ Chronically inflamed & sore throat  ~ Worn tooth enamel

~ Acid reflux disorder                          ~ Severe dehydration

 

The third common eating disorder, Binge-Eating Disorder is where one loses control overeating with recurrent episodes of large intakes of food within a period of time. Often people who struggle with binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese. It is also the most common eating disorder in the United States.

            Symptoms:

            ~ Eating fast during episodes             ~ Feels distressed/ashamed/guilty of eating

            ~ Eats alone/avoid embarrassment   ~ Consumes large amounts of food in a 2hr period

           

Eating disorders can affect anyone no matter the age, gender, racial/ethnicity, background or even weight. Typically, it appears in the teen years or young adulthood. Though, there are cases where it could appear even earlier in childhood. EDs are caused by complex interaction with genetics, biological, behavioral, psychological and social factors. These disorders can also run within families. There are a variety of treatments with eating disorders. To name a few, individual/group/family psychotherapy, nutrition counseling, medical care and medication.

 

Please talk to a doctor if you or a loved one shows signs of an eating disorder. You can also call the support hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255). They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.