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Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is characterized by irregular eating habits, severe distress or an excessive concern regarding your body weight or shape. An individual can either have an altered consumption or absorption of food and as a result it impairs the individuals’ physical health and psychosocial functioning. While there are a variety of eating disorders, the most common forms of such disorder include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Individuals who are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa typically have an extremely low body weight considering their height and body type. Individuals often see themselves as ¨fat,” even though their weight is considered a significant low weight, meaning their weight it less than minimally normal.

What are the symptoms?

  • Chronic restrictive eating or dieting
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
  • An abnormal absence of menstruation (or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles)
  • Loss or thinning of hair
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated binge eating when attempting to compensate for the overeating that the individual may have engaged in. For instance, individuals may force their vomit, exercise excessively, or engage in extreme use of laxatives or diuretics in order to get rid of everything that they just consumed. Individuals with bulimia nervosa often have feeling of guilt and shame when they consume excessive amount of food. Unlike anorexia nervosa, individuals with bulimia nervosa are often considered normal weight or slightly overweight.

What are the symptoms?

  • Social isolation
  • Have an excessively negative body image
  • A preoccupation with ones’ body shape and weight
  • Eating larger amounts of food than most people would eat in such situation (within 2 hours or less)
  • Feeling loss of control over how much you eat
  • The thoughts of food, dieting, and your body are so extreme, it distracts you from completing other tasks
  • Engage in purging behaviors

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?

Unlike individuals with Bulimia Nervosa, individuals with BED do not engage in compensatory behaviors such as vomiting or excursing excessively, but rather consume large amounts of food for example, and as a consequence, they may be obese and may be at a higher risk of developing other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

What are the symptoms?

  • Lack of control over what you are eating
  • Eating rapidly
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Feeling ashamed and disgusted with oneself
  • Eating alone because you feel embarrassed to eat in front of others
  • Never experience satiation. No matter how much food you eat, you are not satisfied

What causes Eating Disorders?

Although the cause is not really known, it is believed that the combination of biological, psychological, and environmental abnormalities influences the development of such disorders. For example, poor self-esteem, irregular home functions, genetics, professions and careers (i.e. ballet and modeling), cultural pressure, and family traumas to mention a few.

It is important to note that it affects both men and women.

How can it be treated?

  • Seeking help from a nutritionist
  • Therapy
  • Medical Care and Monitoring
  • Medications

What can I do for myself or someone I know?

  • Admit you may have a problem
  • Listen to your body
  • Listen to your feelings
  • Accept and love yourself for who you are
  • Seek professional help