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What Do People With Eating Disorders Eat

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What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorders

Why Do People Develop Eating Disorders?

There are many types of eating issues, but the four eating disorders recognized in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are:

Any two people with the same eating disorder can have somewhat different symptoms and experiences. Overall, however, these are the common, most recognizable signs and symptoms that meet the diagnostic criteria for each of the four recognized eating disorders:

Supporting Someone With An Eating Disorder

If youre worried about someone then its important to encourage them to seek treatment as quickly as possible to ensure the best chance of recovery. But treatment is only one aspect of the recovery journey, and there are ways outside of your loved ones treatment programme that you can play a vital role in helping them get better, regardless of your relationship to them. This can range from being a listening ear, to going to the supermarket with them and supporting them after mealtimes. Each person is different and will need different things, but this will give you some ideas about what you can do to help. And remember, one of the most important things you can do for your loved one is look after yourself.

Boys And Girls Experience Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are more likely to affect females than males. However, about 25 per cent of cases in adolescents occur with males.;Girls and boys can experience different social pressures about how they should look. Primary school-aged children are not immune to these pressures, and their attitudes and behaviours reflect adult concerns.Like many adult females, some girls want to lose weight and be thin. Like many adult males, some boys want to lose body fat, but increase muscle mass. Some boys try to meet unrealistically thin ideal standards.

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Encourage Older Children And Adolescents To Feel Good About Their Bodies

There are lots of ways to help your children feel good about their bodies, including:;

  • Show an acceptance of different body shapes and sizes, including your own.;
  • Make a positive effort to portray your own body as functional and well-designed.
  • Demonstrate healthy eating and engage in physical activity for health and enjoyment.
  • Don’t criticise or tease your children about their appearance.
  • Encourage your children to ‘listen’ to their bodies and to become familiar with different physical feelings and experiences.
  • Encourage sport and regular exercise to help maintain your child’s health and fitness and foster their body confidence.

How Are Eating Disorders Treated

Why Do People Die From Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are best treated by a team that includes a doctor, dietitian, and therapist. Treatment includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and talk therapy . The doctor might prescribe medicine to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.

The details of the treatment depend on the type of eating disorder and how severe it is. Some people are hospitalized because of extreme weight loss and medical complications.;

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How To Help Someone With An Eating Disorder

If youre here, it’s because you want to better support someone in your life who has an eating disorderand that’s an amazing first step. Very likely, you are feeling worried about your loved one and you are confused about what you should and should not do.

You are probably feeling a little helpless and thinking what is there you can really do to help? Youre not alone as a lot of people have been in this position. With a little more information and guidance, please know that you can do a great deal to support your loved one.

Types Of Eating Disorders

The most common eating disorders are:

Anorexia. People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe theyre thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.

Bulimia. Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise to excess, fast, or take laxatives.

Binge Eating Disorder. People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.

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Dealing With Eating Disorders In The Home

As a parent, there are many things you can do to support your childs eating disorder recoveryeven if they are still resisting treatment.

Set a positive example. You have more influence than you think. Instead of dieting, eat nutritious, balanced meals. Be mindful about how you talk about your body and your eating. Avoid self-critical remarks or negative comments about others appearance. Instead, focus on the qualities on the inside that really make a person attractive.

Make mealtimes fun. Try to eat together as a family as often as possible. Even if your child isnt willing to eat the food youve prepared, encourage them to join you at the table. Use this time together to enjoy each others company, rather than talking about problems. Meals are also a good opportunity to show your child that food is something to be enjoyed rather than feared.

Avoid power struggles over food. Attempts to force your child to eat will only cause conflict and bad feelings and likely lead to more secrecy and lying. That doesnt mean you cant set limits or hold your child accountable for their behavior. But dont act like the food police, constantly monitoring your childs behavior.

Do whatever you can to promote self-esteem.;in your child in intellectual, athletic, and social endeavors. Give boys and girls the same opportunities and encouragement. A well-rounded sense of self and solid self-esteem are perhaps the best antidotes to disordered eating.

What’s The Difference Between An Eating Problem And An Eating Disorder

  • An eating disorder is a medical diagnosis. This diagnosis is based on your eating patterns and includes medical tests on your weight, blood and body mass index . See our page on diagnosed eating disorders for more information.
  • An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult. This can be just as hard to live with as a diagnosed eating disorder.

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How Can I Participate In Research

Clinical research is medical research that involves people like you. People volunteer to participate in carefully conducted investigations that ultimately uncover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease. Clinical research includes clinical research trials that test new treatments and therapies as well as long-term natural history studies, which provide valuable information about how disease and health progress.

Please Note:

Where Do I Go From Here

In addition to talking to your family doctor, check out the resources below for more information about eating disorders:

Jessie’s Legacy Program, a program of Family Services of the North Shore

Visit or call 604-988-5281 ext. 349 or email to contact Jessie’s Legacy. Jessie’s Legacy provides eating disorders prevention education, resources and support for BC youth, families, educators and professionals.

Kelty Eating Disorders

Contact Kelty Eating Disorders at or 1-800-665-1822 or 604-875-2084 for information, support, and a BC-based program locater for children, youth and their families. Kelty Eating Disorders is a program of Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.

BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information

Visit for the Managing Mental Illnesses series of info sheets, a screening self-test for body image, activities, workbooks, and personal stories about eating disorders and other mental health problems.

HealthLink BC

Call 811 or visit to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information. Through 811, you can also speak to a registered nurse about symptoms you’re worried about, talk with a pharmacist about medication questions, or talk to a registered dietician about healthy eating, food or nutrition.

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Plan Your Meals Ahead

Make some time once a week to plan your meals for the week ahead, using the above tips. This will allow you to make sure you are eating a balanced diet while also taking away the stress of choosing what you are going to eat.

Once you’ve decided, you can do one big shop each week. Again, this will remove the stress of constant decision-making and it also stops you having to make multiple trips to the supermarket while you are recovering.

But it’s worth noting that, although a plan is helpful, you should not feel limited by it. If your plans for the week change, let your food schedule alter with it. It is not about restricting yourself but instead giving yourself some safe guidelines to work with.

Causes Of Eating Disorders

Top 5 Eating Disorders That People Have

While eating disorders typically appear in the teen years or young adulthood, eating disorders can develop in those younger or older than that. Eating disorders can occur in people of all genders. Eating disorders are not caused by vanity and fad diets alone. Biological, psychological, and societal influences can all contribute to an eating disorder.

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What’s It Like To Have An Eating Problem

If you have an eating problem, there are many ways that it can affect how you feel or behave. The way you eat, and how you think about food, may be one of the most noticeable effects.

Warning: the video and the examples below may be upsetting and potentially triggering. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you might want to move on to the next section.

Watch Shaista, Dave, Lilith and Olivia talk about their eating problems. They discuss their experiences of eating disorders such as anorexia, restrictive eating, bingeing and purging. This video is seven minutes and 16 seconds long.

  • restrict the amount of food you eat
  • eat more than you need, or feel out of control when you eat
  • eat regularly in secret or have a fear of eating in public
  • feel very anxious about eating or digesting food
  • eat in response to difficult emotions without feeling physically hungry
  • stick to a rigid set of diet rules or certain foods
  • feel anxious and upset if you have to eat something else
  • do things to get rid of what you eat, sometimes known as purging
  • feel disgusted at the idea of eating certain foods
  • eat things that aren’t really food, such as dirt, soap or paint
  • feel scared of certain types of food
  • think about food and eating a lot, even all the time
  • compare your body to other people’s and think a lot about its shape or size
  • check, test and weigh your body very often
  • base your self-worth on your weight, or whether you pass your checks and tests.

What Are The Treatments For Eating Disorders

Treatment plans for eating disorders are tailored to individual needs. You will likely have a team of providers helping you, including doctors, nutritionists, nurses, and therapists. The treatments may include

  • Individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy. Individual therapy may include cognitive behavioral approaches, which help you to identify and change negative and unhelpful thoughts. It also helps you build coping skills and change behavioral patterns.
  • Medical care and monitoring, including care for the complications that eating disorders can cause
  • Nutrition counseling. Doctors, nurses, and counselors will help you eat healthy to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers, may help treat some eating disorders. The medicines can also help with the depression and anxiety symptoms that often go along with eating disorders.

Some people with serious eating disorders may need to be in a hospital or in a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs combine housing and treatment services.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

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Questions To Ask Your Doctor

Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or;health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at

More information about finding a health care provider or treatment for mental disorders is available on our Finding Help for Mental Illness webpage, available at .

Genetic And Environmental Factors Related To Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders: Why Do People Develop Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders tend to run in families, and female relatives are the most often affected. That is why genetic factors are believed to play a role in the disorders.

But, other influences, both behavioral and environmental, may also play a role. Consider these facts from the American Psychiatric Association:

  • Most people with binge eating disorder;are adolescent and young adult women. Yet this disorder can also affect older women and males of any age.

  • People pursuing professions or activities that emphasize thinness, like modeling, dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, and long-distance running, are more prone to this disorder.

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Demographics Of The Disorder

There are both male and female differences with eating disorders. Men tend to suffer from alcohol and substance abuse while women are most likely to suffer from eating disorders and depression. In fact, one in five women suffer from some type of eating disorder, and of those, 90% are between the ages of 12 and 25. In men, 40% of male football players had some type of eating disorder, and one in 10 individuals with anorexia or bulimia were male.

Eating Disorders Dont Just Affect Teenage Girls

Weight is not the only misconception when identifying someone with an eating disorder. Its often assumed eating disorders only impact adolescent girls. Yet, eating disorders dont discriminate against age,;racial or;ethnic identity, or gender.;Statistics;show that 2% of men struggle with binge eating disorders.;;

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Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life .

Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.

The exact cause of eating disorders is not fully understood, but research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors can raise a persons risk.

What Are My Treatment Options

Eating disorders can kill you; what to watch out for and ...

If you think you may have an eating disorder, its important to seek help. Eating disorders can be distressing, uncomfortable, and in some cases, life threatening.

A healthcare professional can provide an accurate diagnosis, refer you to an eating disorder specialist, and suggest treatment options that are best for you.

  • medication to treat coexisting conditions
  • working with a nutritionist

In therapy, you can work your therapist to address underlying reasons for your eating disorder. A therapist can also support any feelings that come up as you recover.

While there arent specific medications prescribed for eating disorders, meds can help you manage some physical symptoms of eating disorders like constipation. Takings meds may also help with other mental health conditions or symptoms you have, such as depression or anxiety.

Meeting with a nutritionist, in addition to therapy, can help you challenge rigid thoughts around food, body, and weight. They can provide accurate nutritional information to support your recovery. Nutritionists can also create a meal plan that supports your nutritional needs.

You may want to specifically look for a nutritionist who has specializes or has experience with eating disorders.

Some people also receive outpatient treatment, meaning they live at home while working with a treatment team. Others need more intensive care, which sometimes means receiving treatment in a hospital or residential facility .

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Eating Disorders Arent About Food

Telling someone or yourself to just eat;more;or less;is;not the solution to the problem. Its not about the amount of food you are or arent eating but rather understanding the root;cause;of the eating disorder.;;

Eating disorders can evolve from an array of causes such as genetics, trauma, body image, control issues, and cultural or societal pressures.;

Realizing that eating disorders arent about food helps us to unravel the outside triggers that could be causing the eating disorder.;;

What Are The Symptoms Of Eating Disorders

The symptoms of eating disorders vary, depending on the disorder:

The symptoms of binge-eating include

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating fast during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

The symptoms of bulimia nervosa include the same symptoms as binge-eating, plus trying to get rid of the food or weight after binging by

  • Purging, making yourself throw up or using laxatives or enemas to speed up the movement of food through your body
  • Doing intensive and excessive exercise
  • Fasting
  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and . This is caused by the exposure to stomach acid every time you throw up.
  • GERD and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Severe dehydration from purging
  • Electrolyte imbalance, which could be too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals. This can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

The symptoms of anorexia nervosa include

  • Eating very little, to the point of starving yourself
  • Intensive and excessive exercise
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image – seeing yourself as overweight even when you are severely underweight

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