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How To Ask If Someone Has An Eating Disorder

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What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorder

How can you tell if someone has an eating disorder?

There are a number of different types of eating disorder, each with their own unique features.


People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin, have an irrational fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image . People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible and often achieve this by starving themselves and engaging in ‘purging’ behaviours where they try to remove calories from their body.


People with bulimia tend to binge and then make themselves sick, abuse laxatives or exercise excessively to try and get rid of the calories consumed . These binge-purge cycles are driven by an obsessive need to control food intake, and can be triggered by stress, anxiety or hunger. Bulimia can be harder to spot than anorexia because often, someone with bulimia stays a ‘normal’ weight.

Binge eating disorder

People with binge eating disorder binge eat on a regular basis, often eating huge amounts of unhealthy food, even when they are not hungry. However, people with BED dont show any purging behaviours, which means that they are likely to become obese.

Eating disorders not otherwise specified

Eating disorders not otherwise specified , also referred to as atypical eating disorders, can resemble other forms of eating disorder but do not meet the exact requirements in order to receive a formal diagnosis.

Eating Disorders Flare When Triggered

Triggers are life events that may stir up disordered thoughts in an individual with an eating disorder.

Common triggers include puberty, an illness in the family , times of transition like divorce, moving, or going to a new school, and trauma.

Triggers may also be anything that exceeds the individuals ability to cope, as disordered behaviors often provide a sense of comfort when situations or emotions feel out of control.

These events do not guarantee the onset of an eating disorder in all people but it is important to be aware of them, especially for individuals who may be at greater risk due to their genetics or personality.

How Is Your Recovery Coming Along

My treatment has been successful so far. A patient is thought to be in recovery for two years after treatment is started. Talking about my experience with anorexia and bulimia has helped me to better understand the diseases themselves and heal. I have a better understanding of my past behaviors. But I do still think about my eating disorders in the back of my mind.

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What You Need To Know About Training Clients With Eating Disorders

The past few years have seen increased public awareness of eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and others. No longer swept under the carpet, today, the issue is more widely, and frankly, discussed in both online and traditional media.

With eating disorders, compulsive exercise and negative body image frequently co-occurring, it is imperative that personal trainers understand the link between these factors and the possibility that it may affect some of their clients.

Eating Disorders May Run In Your Family

10 Ways To Support Someone With An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are hereditary, meaning they can run in families. Having a complete family medical history that includes mental health is important.

This includes instances of eating disorders, substance abuse, alcoholism, depression, and suicide.

Having these diagnoses in the family does not mean that someone is doomed to suffer from an eating disorder. And in the end, it can help identify risk and make early diagnosis easier.

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Please Explain What Anorexia And Bulimia Are

A person with anorexia nervosa , often called anorexia, has an eating disorder in which that person has an intense fear of gaining weight. Someone with anorexia thinks about food a lot and limits the food she or he eats, even though she or he may be too thin.

Bulimia nervosa , often called bulimia, is also a type of eating disorder. A person with bulimia eats a lot of food in a short amount of time and then tries to prevent weight gain by getting rid of the food . Purging might be done by making yourself throw up or by taking laxatives.

In my experience, anorexia and bulimia are both eating disorders that are rooted in a poor self-perception and body image. Usually the binging from bulimia is done with junk food or foods you feel “guilty” about eating because they are not typically healthy. These foods make you feel good for a short amount of time but then you realize that you’ve eaten too much and want to get rid of it.

Knowing What To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder Is Key

Navigating life with an eating disorder may seem like an impossible task at times. It is so important that we let those in our lives with these debilitating disorders know that we are here to support them. Having support from everyone in their lives can help make the journey to recovery less difficult, even if it is just a small amount. Every little bit we do can and will help.

We hope this list provides you with insight to comfort someone with an eating disorder. Remember that recovery is possible and having the proper support from friends and family is the first step.

If someone you care about is struggling with recovery, or needs treatment, were here to help. Call us at 800.760.3934 and speak to one of our highly trained admission specialists today. Or, you can fill out this form for a FREE assessment. All calls are completely free and strictly confidential.

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The Patient Whose Secret Is Revealed May Be The Patient Most Grateful

Posted February 21, 2013

Recently, I wrote about gluten sensitivity as a cover for an eating disorder. But that begs the question: How does one diagnose an eating disorder?

While the health care profession in this country acts as warmonger in the ongoing battle against obesity, it is important to not forget that about one-half of adult Americans already are on a diet on any given day. Unfortunately, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately one-quarter of these adults will develop some degree of eating disorder.

The physical appearance and complaints of someone with an eating disorder will vary, depending on the severity. It is not unusual for patients with anorexia or bulimia to suffer dizziness, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, constipation, menstrual irregularities, and cold intolerance. Physical examination might show muscle wasting and weakness.

However, it is quite difficult to diagnose eating disorders, particularly when one considers that many patients shift between binge eating and anorexia.

One answer to this diagnostic dilemma is actually a series of questions, developed by British researchers over a decade ago, and known as the SCOFF Questionnaire. To use this diagnostic tool, score one point for each yes a score of 2 or more indicates a likely case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Below are the five questions:

1. Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?

Validation And Comparison Of The Two Sets Of Questions

do YOU have an eating disorder? | questions to ask yourself

Single Level Cutoff Analysis.

For the SCOFF questions, a cutoff of 2 or more abnormal responses gave a sensitivity of 78% and a specificity of 88% . The corresponding positive LR was 6.6 and the negative LR was 0.25 .

A cutoff of 2 or more abnormal responses to the ESP questions maximized sensitivity at 100% with a corresponding specificity of 71% . The associated likelihood ratios were LR+, 3.4 , and LRâ, 0.0 .

Multilevel Analysis

Multilevel analysis was performed by separating out the questions . With 1 or no abnormal responses, the ESP questions provided a positive likelihood ratio of 0.0 and the SCOFF questions gave a positive likelihood ratio of 0.25 . Three or more abnormal ESP responses gave a positive likelihood ratio of 11 . Likewise, 4 or more abnormal SCOFF responses gave a positive likelihood ratio of 11 .

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An Interview About Eating Disorders: Krista Barlow

Krista Barlow struggled with anorexia and bulimia through high school and college. Understanding more about the diseases helped her to overcome them. She hopes to help others by sharing her story. Learn more about these conditions in this candid and personal interview.

Krista Barlow is a senior in college. She plans to continue her career in the medical field after graduation.

What Forms Of Treatment Are Effective For Bulimia Nervosa

Most uncomplicated cases of bulimia nervosa can be treated on an outpatient basis although inpatient treatment is occasionally indicated. The best psychological treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to the eating disorder. Therapy is focused on normalizing eating behavior and identifying environmental triggers and irrational thoughts or feeling states that precipitate bingeing or purging. Patients are taught to challenge irrational beliefs about weight and self-esteem. Several medications have also been shown to be effective in decreasing bingeing and purging behaviors in bulimia.

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Check Your Judgment At The Door: What You Should Not Say

Eating disorders may seem to be all about outward appearances, but theyre actually a result of whats going on inside. People who deal with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating hope to gain some measure of control over their feelings of sadness, loneliness or self-hate.2

And the brain itself plays a role too. Researchers found that people with eating disorders show an abnormal response to dopamine the chemical that tells our brain when something feels good causing some patients to experience extra doses of dopamine when they eat and others to actually endure anxiety when they eat.4

With these facts in mind, do not say:2

  • You look Make no mention of your friends body, positive or otherwise. Leave these discussions to the professionals.
  • All you need to do is With statements like these, you belittle a serious issue.
  • Your behavior makes me feel Your friends eating disorder is not a personal attack against you. Be sure it doesnt sound like you see her actions this way.
  • What Happens Following A Referral

    Eating disorders

    Providers often ask what happens following a referral. Patients who are referred for an assessment come for an intake. That intake is completed by an intake specialist. During the intake process, the provider completes a clinical interview. Patients are asked about their current and historical relationship with food, including questions about their specific food intake and any eating disorder behaviors .

    Following these guidelines increases positive outcomes in treatment. One of the greatest gifts the referring provider can give to their patient is their support of the level of care recommendation. Hopefully, knowing that the professional who made the recommendation used these universal standards and prescribed the treatment at that LOCholding the best interest of the patient in mindallows you, as a referring provider to support, encourage, and uphold the recommendation made to your patient. When all treatment providers support the patient, it is very helpful for the patients recovery journey.

    Your patient will then be admitted into the LOC that was recommended. Prior to the treatment start date, patients may need a medical appointment to ensure it is safe for them to begin programming at the recommended LOC. We highly recommended that a patient completes the care plan recommended by their treatment team. With your patients permission, you can stay informed as they progress through treatment.


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    What Is An Eating Disorder

    Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, a form of self-starvation bulimia nervosa, in which individuals engage in repetitive cycles of binge-eating alternating with self-induced vomiting or starvation binge-eating disorder , which resembles bulimia but without compensatory behaviors to avoid weight gain avoidant restrictive food intake disorder in which people may have lack of interest in food, avoid certain textures or types of foods, or have fears and anxieties about consequences of eating unrelated to shape or weight concerns and other specified feeding and eating disorders . Eating disorders can occur in any age group, gender, ethnic or racial group.

    Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are psychiatric illnesses that center on food and its consumption and are usually characterized by:

    • Excessive preoccupation with food and dissatisfaction with ones body shape or weight
    • A compulsion to engage in extreme eating habits and unhealthy methods of weight control such as: o Fasting or binge-eating o Chewing and spitting or regurgitating food o Excessive laxative, diuretic, or diet pill abuse.

    These unhealthy behaviors and preoccupations can develop into a consuming passion and come to interfere with physical, psychological and social well-being.

    How To Talk To Someone About Their Eating Disorder

    The decision to make a change is rarely an easy one for someone with an eating disorder. If the eating disorder has left them malnourished, it can distort the way they thinkabout their body, the world around them, even your motivations for trying to help. Bombarding them with dire warnings about the health consequences of their eating disorder or trying to bully them into eating normally probably wont work. Eating disorders often fill an important role in the persons lifea way to cope with unpleasant emotionsso the allure can be strong. Since you may be met with defensiveness or denial, youll need to tread carefully when broaching the subject.

    Pick a good time. Choose a time when you can speak to the person in private without distractions or constraints. You dont want to have to stop in the middle of the conversation because of other obligations! Its also important to have the conversation at a time of emotional calm. Dont try to have this conversation right after a blow up.

    Explain why youre concerned. Be careful to avoid lecturing or criticizing, as this will only make your loved one defensive. Instead, refer to specific situations and behaviors youve noticed, and why they worry you. Your goal at this point is not to offer solutions, but to express your concerns about the persons health, how you much you love them, and your desire to help.

    What not to do

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    What Should We Ask

    The SCOFF questionnaire is a very simple, very straightforward questionnaire that addresses people across eating disorder diagnoses.

    Here are six questions we recommend asking, adapted from the SCOFF questionnaire:

  • Do you feel like you sometimes lose or have lost control over how you eat?
  • Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you believe yourself to be fat, even when others say you are too thin?
  • Do food or thoughts about food dominate your life?
  • Do thoughts about changing your body and/or your weight dominate your life?
  • Have others become worried about your weight and/or eating?
  • Take some time to read these questions and make them your own. Asking these questions in a way that fits for you, your clinical style, and personality will allow it to feel more authentic and like something a patient can respond to honestly.

    If a patient answers yes to two or more of the questions, a further assessment should be considered. You could at that time, refer them to The Emily Program for a comprehensive assessment by calling 1-888-364-5977 or by completing our online referral form. If you want to assess further in your own practice, you could consider the EAT-26. If there is a concern, the best course of action is a referral for a comprehensive assessment done by an eating disorder specialist.

    How To Tell If Someone Has An Eating Disorder Including Risk Factors

    How do I tell if I have an eating disorder?

    by Rebecca Bitzer MS RD LD CEDRD | Eating Disorders

    How to tell if someone has an eating disorder and knowing when to ask for help isnt always obvious. Whether youre concerned for yourself or a loved one, you may be feeling confused about how to proceed.

    Perhaps you arent sure what constitutes disordered eating or cant tell if youre sick enough to ask for help.

    Maybe the behaviors are new and youre waiting to see how it plays out. Or maybe the behaviors have been going on long enough that you just assumed they were normal.

    Whatever the reason for your apprehension, I encourage you to trust your intuition.

    If something feels off, youve already done the right thing by looking for additional resources like this blog. Sometimes just acknowledging there is a problemand knowing there are professionals who can assist youcan relieve some of the anxiety that comes with asking for help.

    As scary as it may seem, there is no harm in having yourself or your loved one get an evaluation by an eating disorder professional.

    Often, this can be as simple as setting up a getting-to-know-you session with a therapist or dietitian that specializes in disordered eating.

    Early intervention is important when it comes to minimizing medical risks and creating the best outcomes, but asking for help at any time along the way is better than suffering alone.

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    What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder In Children

    The signs and symptoms of eating disorders can vary from person-to-person and also depend on the type of eating disorder. However, if you notice a combination of the following signs in your child, it may be that they have developed, or are starting to develop, an eating disorder.

    Behavioural symptoms

    • Pressure from the media to be thin
    • Having hobbies where being thin is seen as important, such as dancing or athletics

    Tips For Talking To Someone Who Has An Eating Disorder

    Focus on specific times when you felt concerned about the persons eating behavior. Explain that you think these behaviors may indicate that there is a problem.

    , but respect his or her privacy. Eating disorders can be a cry for help, so the individual will likely appreciate that you care enough to say something.

    Use I statements like, Im concerned about you because you refuse to eat, or, It worries me to hear you vomiting, as opposed to you statements such as, You just need to eat, or, Youre acting irresponsibly, which place blame on the person and can cause him or her to feel guilty.

    Try not to criticize the persons eating habits or demand that he or she change. People with eating disorders are usually attempting to gain control because they feel they dont have it. Trying to trick or force them into eating can make things worse.

    Avoid commenting on how the person looks. This person is already overly focused on his or her body, so even a compliment can reinforce the obsession with body image and weight.

    Try not to give simple solutions such as, If youd just stop, everything would be fine! There is no simple solution to a serious problem like an eating disorder.

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