What Is An Eating Disorder
If you have an eating disorder, you are very concerned about the way your body looks, and you use food to control your emotions. You want very much to be thin and are afraid of becoming fat.
Eating disorders result from a strong sense of emotional need or pain. If you have an eating disorder, you might think that you will be happy if you reach a certain weight. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
If you have anorexia nervosa, you are underweight but think you are overweight. You might try to lose weight by not eating much, eating only certain kinds of food, or exercising too much.
If you have bulimia nervosa, you might be normal weight or overweight but are not happy with your weight. If you have bulimia, you will eat a lot of food, then try to get rid of it by making yourself vomit or by taking water pills or laxatives. This is called binging and purging.
Common Types Of Eating Disorders
Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are about more than food. Theyre complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.
These disorders are described in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition .
In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life .
This article describes 6 of the most common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.
Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.
In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated.
Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. However, most include the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising.
Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20 .
Summary Eating disorders are mental health conditions marked by an obsession with food or body shape. They can affect anyone but are most prevalent among young women.
They Arent Trying To Hurt You
It may make you feel bad that they are struggling, but they arent out to cause pain for you or anyone else. Even if they are dishonest about eating, they are just ashamed and embarrassed about their disorder. Theyre still the same good-hearted person, but they just need some compassion and understanding.
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Going Beyond The Stereotypes Of An Eating Disorder
Both of these clients could be of average, above average or somewhat below average weight for a person their size. Unless a client is severely under or overweight, a therapist cannot look at a client and determine from their size if they do or do not have an eating disorder. With the exception of the client deciding on their own that they need help with their eating disorder, it is going to take the skills of the therapist to discover and bring into discussion the unspoken signs.
We often think of people with eating disorders as having some sort of extreme weight or symptom such as binging or purging. People with eating disorders can look or act much different than that, though.
An eating disorder can be anything that includes extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues, according to the National Eating Disorders Association . If anything related to food, weight or body image prevents you from living a full and happy life, it is a mental health issue maybe something a therapist can help you with.
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Treatment For Eating Disorders
You can recover from an eating disorder, but it may take time and recovery will be different for everyone.
If you’re referred to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists, they’ll be responsible for your care.
They should talk to you about the support you might need, such as for other conditions you have, and include this in your treatment plan.
Your treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder you have, but usually includes a talking therapy.
You may also need regular health checks if your eating disorder is having an impact on your physical health.
Your treatment may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder.
Most people will be offered individual therapy, but those with binge eating disorder may be offered group therapy.
Read more about the different treatments for:
Treatment for other specified feeding or eating disorder will depend on the type of eating disorder your symptoms are most like.
For example, if your symptoms are most like anorexia, your treatment will be similar to the treatment for anorexia.
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Could You Have An Eating Disorder
If you havent had reason to know much about eating disorders previously, it may be that your understanding of them is based on the way theyre shown in the media, for example. This often portrays a particular type of story in terms of who gets eating disorders, what causes them, and what the symptoms are. For example, you may have most often heard about the experiences of young white women with anorexia, which doesnt reflect the full spectrum of eating disorders and people who can develop them.
- Studies suggest around a quarter of people with eating disorders are male.
- In 2015, 15% of the calls to our Helpline were about someone aged 40 or over.
- According to a study , 80 Recovery is possible at any time, but its important to try and seek help as early as you can, as this can help in recovery. 85% of people with eating disorders are not underweight.
- Stereotypes about who gets eating disorders might make them even harder to spot among older people, men and boys, and ethnic and cultural minority groups. The real number of sufferers overall could be much higher than we think, but particularly among groups like these.
You can read more about the symptoms of different eating disorders here. If youre at all worried about yourself or someone else, its always best to seek help as quickly as possible, as this gives the greatest chance of a full recovery.
How To Tell Someone You Have An Eating Disorder
I havent told many people about my eating disorder, so it felt like a weight off my shoulders telling someone.
Telling someone your concerns about the eating disorder and about recovery can be daunting. This page aims to help you have conversations that will give you the encouragement and support you deserve on the path to recovery.
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Are You Ok Serrell Seriously Clembo Whats The Matter Oh God Do You Still Love Him Are You Pregnantis It Me Have I Pissed You Off Please Honestly Just Say
At that very moment I knew if I did just say I could never just not say. That would be it. Id be forever the random that suddenly starting throwing up after meals where the hell had that even come from? My best friend and I were driving back from Cardiff after a night out with other close friends. I hadnt long broken up with my ex and although on the surface, it seemed I was just going through the standard break up motions, underneath all was far from fine. They didnt know that, and I didnt really know it at that point either. But then, right at that moment, in the car with my friend, I thought Id tell her Id been making myself sick after mini binges. I was stuttering a bit as my mind was racing from tell her/dont tell her/tell her/dont tell her. I knew that as soon as I said it, I could never take it back- would she judge me? Would she think I was losing the plot? I kind of worried I was! Would she tell everyone and then Id forever be judged if I even hinted at needing the toilet after a meal.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please check out the following websites for advice and support.
Should You Tell Your Boyfriend About Your Eating Disorder
Telling your boyfriend you have an eating disorder might help your relationship. Being honest could also give you additional support to recover from bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. But what if its too soon to talk about an eating disorder with a guy youre dating? Its not easy to decide if its time to tell your boyfriend the truth about your struggle with food and body imageespecially if youre embarrassed or ashamed of yourself.
I told my boyfriend I have an eating disorder, says Chrissy on How to Stop Being Clingy in a Relationship. Im in a new relationship with a guy I like a lot. Past boyfriends told me Im clingy and too attached. I suffocate them because Im too needy. I thought my last relationship would be the one so I told my boyfriend I have an eating disorder. Im bulimic. He started treating me differently and eventually broke up with me. And my ED got worse after telling him! I binged and purged way more than I used to. Should I tell my new boyfriend I have an eating disorder? I want to because weve been dating seriously for six months and he wonders about my behavior. Ill ask my counselor tomorrow.
My friend, who Ill call Angela, said her bulimia got worse after she told her husband. Heres what happened to her marriage and what she learned. Remember that this is one womans experience. It wasnt mine, and it wont be the same as yours.
What happened after she told her husband
Angela describes how binging and purging food makes her feel:
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Ways To Decide If You Should Tell Him
Deciding if you should tell your boyfriend that youre bulimic or anorexic requires you to be self-aware. This isnt about him or even your relationship. Its about you. If talking to your boyfriend will help you recover and heal, then it may be wise to tell him. But if your boyfriend might somehow impede your recovery or even make your eating disorder worse, then dont tell him.
Talk to your counselor. The best way to know if you should tell your boyfriend youre struggling with bulimia or anorexia is to discuss it with a therapist or doctor. If youre not seeing a counselor, call an Eating Disorders Hotline or visit a National Eating Disorder Information Centre.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder
People with an eating disorder may feel it helps them stay in control of their life. However, as time goes on, the eating disorder can start to control them. If you have an eating disorder, you may also have the urge to harm yourself or misuse alcohol or drugs.
Talk to someone you trust such as a close friend or family member if you think you have an eating disorder. You can also call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline . You can also call the Butterfly Foundation for advice if you’re concerned about a family member or friend.
Your doctor can advise you on diagnosis and possible treatment options, which will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.
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How To Tell Your Parents You Have An Eating Disorder
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011. This article has been viewed 45,498 times.
It can be difficult to talk to one’s parents at all let alone about a serious issue such as an eating disorder. Remember, though, that eating disorders are very real and can be very serious and that this is something you should talk to your parents about. Keep in mind that the initial conversation may be somewhat painful, but in the long run it will pay off in the form of receiving your parents’ love, advice, and support.
Eating Disorder Quiz: How Do I Know If I Have An Eating Disorder
Interested in taking our 4 minute quiz and receiving tailored feedback about the nature of your possible eating disorder symptoms?
If so, read on!
Its common for people to wonder whether they may have an eating disorder.
Many of the symptoms of eating disorders are so common in modern society that this way of living may be the new norm.
Although determining whether you meet criteria for a specific eating disorder requires a lengthy diagnostic interview with a professional, answering a self-report survey can give you important insights towards the nature of your symptoms.
If youre interested in finding out about your current eating patterns, complete the questionnaire below, which assesses broad range of eating disorder symptoms..
While this quiz cannot be used to diagnose someone, responses can tell you where you stand in relation to the general population.
If you take this 4 minute quiz, you will receive personalized feedback about your current level of eating disorder symptoms.
See how you go!
Please note that your responses will be completely confidential and no identifiable information will be collected or shared. The feedback we provide will be based on norms established through published, peer-reviewed research. Unidentifiable responses may be used for research purposes, so answering these questions implies that youve read the Plain Language Statement and given consent.
Take the test and see how you go!
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Be Prepared For Questions
It is likely that whoever you choose to speak to, they will have some questions for you about what youre going through. If you feel like you cant answer them, the best thing is to be honest. It could also be that they might jump into overdrive trying to get you help. Understand that this is coming from a good place, a place where they want to help. If you feel like its too much, share that with them. Perhaps suggest taking a break from the conversation and doing something else until you feel ready to talk again.
Preoccupation With Nutritional Content
A dedication to eating nutritious food is admirable, but if someone you know begins to classify foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, safe or unsafe, and is constantly searching out organic, low-fat diet foods, frequently visits websites focused on nutrition, or suddenly declares they are vegetarian or vegan, this, in conjunction with other behaviors, could be a sign that they need help.
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What Diet Are You On
Our society praises weight loss and people constantly want to know about the newest and best way to lose weight. However, if a person with an eating disorder is losing weight and gets positive feedback from other people about weight loss, this can encourage disordered eating behaviors.
It is best not to comment on appearance at all. Focus on being happy to see the person or the person being in a good mood. Alternatively, ask about other non-appearance related qualities of the person.
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What Causes Eating Disorders
We do not know exactly what causes eating disorders.
You may be more likely to get an eating disorder if:
- you or a member of your family has a history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol or drug misuse
- you’ve been criticised for your eating habits, body shape or weight
- you’re really worried about being slim, particularly if you also feel pressure from society or your job, for example, ballet dancers, models or athletes
- you have anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality or are a perfectionist
- you’ve been sexually abused
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Warning Signs Of An Eating Disorder In Someone Else
It can often be very difficult to identify that a loved one or friend has developed an eating disorder.
Warning signs to look out for include:
- dramatic weight loss
- lying about how much and when they’ve eaten, or how much they weigh
- eating a lot of food very fast
- going to the bathroom a lot after eating, often returning looking flushed
- exercising too much
- cutting food into small pieces or eating very slowly
- wearing loose or baggy clothes to hide their weight loss
What Symptoms Should I Be Concerned About
The following symptoms may indicate that someone has an eating disorder:
- Avoidance of eating or excuses for not eating
- Dieting, weight fluctuations, excessive exercise, and poor body image, each on their own, may not be a sign of an eating disorder. Eating disorders may also look different in children.
- Disappearance of food
- Frequent dieting behavior and/or preoccupation with dieting
- Frequent weight fluctuations, significant weight loss, or being significantly underweight
- Poor body image
If a loved one is showing the above signs, the next questions to ask are whether a preoccupation with eating, shape, and weight are negatively impacting their life. For example, does it interfere with their ability to concentrate, sleep, socialize, or work? Has there been a recent noticeable shift in these behaviors? If so, further evaluation is advised.
Do not be put off if your loved one insists there is not a problem. This is often a symptom of the illness. Even if you feel that they might not be sick enough, it is best to err on the side of caution. Early intervention and treatment can reduce the length of illness and improve chances for a full recovery.
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