Spotlight on Eating Disorders

Many of us have some “disordered eating” but do not actually have an “eating disorder” diagnosis.

With so much information in the media, we are increasingly more concerned about our weight, our diets and our eating habits. Knowing that certain foods are unhealthy for us, we often cannot seem to stop craving and choosing those foods. We eat too much, we eat too fast, we restrict certain food, we often eat to suppress emotions and we later pay the price in terms of feeling stuffed, uncomfortable, gaseous or in physical pain. What differentiates the average person’s poor eating habits from a more serious and eventually debilitating “eating disorder”?
Early Intervention Can Save Lives.

Eating Disorder is a disease, a serious disease, which can be masked in broad daylight for a long time. Unlike a drinking or drug addiction, a person with an eating disorder cannot abstain from food. We need food to eat, every day, several times each day. And this is a progressive disease so that relatives and friends may not quickly recognize the symptoms until the disease has already progressed to a dangerous state.You can catch it early by noticing that someone you care about is having unhealthy thoughts, attitudes and behaviors around food and eating. No longer just a young person’s problem, men and women of all ages are exhibiting eating disorders, the fastest growing group being middle-aged women and women with diabetes.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

When we talk about an eating disorder, what immediately comes to mind for most of us is the image of a very underweight female in her late teens or early 20’s, who has been starving herself. But the reality is that Anorexia affects both men and women of all ages. Dieting is the most common behavior that eventually leads to a full blown eating disorder. The emotions involved have a lot to do with feeling anxiety and low self-esteem yet wanting to please and toperform life activities perfectly. The process may begin with a simple diet, followed by increasing restriction of food, obsession with feeling overweight, and unwillingness to recognize the danger of inadequate food intake.

Bulimia Nervosa

A person suffering from Bulimia Nervosa can often easily camouflage his or her disorder by appearing to be of normal weight and appearing to eat normal meals. If someone is paying attention, though, they will notice a pattern of over-eating at meal time, binging or excessively snacking, and then either fasting, excessively exercising, purging (inducing vomiting, taking laxatives and enemas) or alternating between all of these actions. Disturbing the natural digestive functions of the body, increasing the acidity in the throat, and uncontrolled exercising can lead to serious physical problems.

Binging Disorder

Food can be soothing, comforting, and act like a drug. Binge eating is certainly not just a problem for women. An increasing number of men of all ages have developed maladaptive coping mechanisms that result in binge eating. This and all the other eating disorders are bio-psycho-social illnesses that can be healed and overcome with mental health, medical and body awareness counseling.

Orthorexic Nervosa

Not recognized by many as an actual eating disorder, orthorexic nervosa resulting from “clean eating” behavior can actually be unhealthy for the body. In an attempt to be exceptionally healthy, a person with this disorder may be inadvertently eliminating important foods that contain necessary amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

Eating Disorder Recovery

Treatment of an eating disorder differs depending upon many factors. Often, a team of practitioners is involved including a physician, nutritionist or dietician, psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health counselor or family therapist.

• Specific type of eating disorder
• How early the eating disorder is detected
• If there is a co-existing addiction
• Whether there is a concurrent mental health diagnosis

There is Life Beyond Eating Disorders. to this recent interview with Johanna Kandel, founder and CEO of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness and find out more about Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

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