What You Should Know About Your Partner And Their Eating Disorder
If you are romantically involved with someone struggling with an eating disorder, there are some things you should know about your partner. The following list, compiled from articles in Thought Catalog and Recovery Warriors written by those who have struggled from eating disorders, will help you begin to understand your partner better.
Its Not About Having The Perfect Body Though
Its not about looking like a model or being attractive to guys. For me, its a need to feel clean and empty.; Its a need to feel like there is nothing in me, or on me, thats harmful or dirty or gross. Its about being thin in a way that will reassure others that I am clean and non-toxic.
Yes, it is largely about weight and the number on the scale, but its more about the control and the restraint. Its not some game or weight-loss challenge Im simply choosing to engage in.;
At their root, eating disorders are a desperate need for, and form of control. No matter how out of control everything feels, food is something I CAN control. Weight is something I can control. ;
Thats how it always starts, at least with me having control. Then, the eating disorder takes on a life of its own and the tables turn, as it strips you of all control you thought you had. And now, it controls me.; All Im left with is this constant, relentless, and desperate need to get rid of all the fat on me, convinced my happiness and peace is buried somewhere underneath it.
Its as if my fat is a heavy coat and I know that, once I take that coat off, Ill be me again and everything will be okay. Ill be able to breathe again. Ill be happy. Ill be free.
What Does Binge Eating Disorder Look Like
There’s a popular conception in society about what eating disorders are and how they function. At best, these ideas are a piece of the puzzle, at worse, they’re totally inaccurate. So what does binge eating disorder look like and how do we treat people in society that have it? There is no one right answer to what binge eating disorder looks like and realising this will help with the second.
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How Are Eating Disorders Treated
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.;
What Are Eating Disorders When You Look At Popular Culture
If you ask a random person what they think of when they hear the phrase “eating disorder” it will probably conjure up images emaciated white women with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Society has cultivated a ideal where thinness is seen as a problem and being overweight is caused by a lack of self-control. Also that women, caucasian women, in particular, are the victims of these disorders. In the larger narrative of mental health problems when it comes to food, it always seems to be dangerously-thin, white females that get to do all of the talking.
But eating disorders are not that simple. The victims don’t fall into one archetype and the kinds of illnesses that there are, are not limited to two options. When society decides that one person has this kind of illness and all others are encroaching on someone else’s identity, it harms everyone that has this problem and is seeking treatment for an eating disorder.
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Is Bingeing In My Genes
Back at my apartment, I come across a recent study that says overeating may be genetic: Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that people with genetically fewer receptors for the feel-good chemical dopamine find food more rewarding than do people without that genotype. Two of my aunts had weight issuesthey both underwent gastric bypass surgery. I wonder if I’m feeling the effects of my family tree. I’d prefer, however, to believe that binge eating is ultimately my own decision, albeit a very bad one and therefore within my grasp to control.
I don’t like feeling guilty or fat. I don’t like moving my boyfriend’s hand off my stomach after a big meal because I’m embarrassed for him to touch it. As with most problems, bingeing can’t be fixed overnight. “I tell my patients that this is more about persistence in their effort than quitting cold turkey,” Binks says. “It takes time to analyze your eating pattern and figure out how to overcome it.”
A week later, during dinner with my boyfriend, I get up from the table for an extra helping of potatoes from the stove. Channeling Matz, I stop and ask myself if I’m hungry. The answer is no, so I sit back down and finish telling him about my day, proud of not eating simply to eat. One small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.
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.
I Always Thought Only Women Could Have Eating Disorders And Then It Happened To Me
Editor’s Note: The following story discusses weight loss and an eating disorder. Please read no further if this is triggering for you.
It was the beginning of my senior year of college and not only had I found myself morbidly obese but also madly in love with one of my friends. I was afraid the feelings weren’t reciprocal because of my weight, so I decided for the very first time in my life that I would go on a diet. I was convinced that if I was a respectable weight, my friend would truly see the beauty that hid underneath for years.
So with all the determined willpower I could muster, I decided to choose one of the very popular fad diets at the time. I immediately became obsessed with not only the diet but my body image as well. In the subsequent months, I was able to stick religiously to my newfound regimen and lost a ton of weight very quickly. I felt fantastic, bought a new, shinier wardrobe, and got a ton of congratulatory pats on the back from my friends and family. There was only one thing left to conquer, which was my main goal all along: to win over my crush with a body that I finally deemed respectable and presentable.
And so here lies the beginning of one of life’s most difficult lessons for me: IT DIDN’T WORK. Just like that makeover movie from the 1980s in which Patrick Dempsey’s character goes from geek to chic and ultimately discovers that it’s not enough to buy him love.
Who Does It Affect
Globally, anorexia affects 0.4 % to 4% of all people and bulimia affects about 1% of all people. Binge-eating disorder affects up to about 2% of all people. These illnesses are more likely to affect the following groups of people:
WomenUp to 90% of people diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia are women. However, more boys and men are being diagnosed with eating disorders, and it’s likely that experiences of boys and men aren’t caught in current statistics. Binge-eating disorder is diagnosed in men and women more equally.
Young peopleAnorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder often start in the teenage and young adult years, though they can also start earlier or later in life, too.
Family membersEating disorders tend to run in families, so you have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder if a close family member also has an eating disorder.
People with other mental illnessesPeople who experience an eating disorder are more likely to be diagnosed with mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder, an anxiety disorder, a substance use disorder, or a personality disorder.
People from certain cultures or careersAnorexia and bulimia are more common among people who have jobs that depend on the way their body looks. This may include some dancers, models and athletes. Eating disorders may also be more common in cultures with strong gender stereotypesfor example, ones that idealize thin women and lean, muscular men.
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Substance Abuse And Anorexia
People who abuse alcohol or drugs are diagnosed with eating disorders at a rate 11 times higher than that of the general population. They may abuse substances to self-medicate their body image anxiety. As much as 18 percent of patients with anorexia display symptoms of a co-occurring substance use disorder. Substance use disorders encompass the abuse of alcohol, prescription, and illicit drugs, as well as addictions to things like gambling and gaming. Recently, the colloquial term drunkorexia has emerged to describe fasting or restricting eating habits to compensate for binge drinking, but according to the current criteria, a person cannot be formally diagnosed with drunkorexia.
Imagine This Analogy On What It Is Like To Have An Eating Disorder
You are driving a car. Excuse the cliché; but youre driving down the road of life. The music is blasting and the top is down. Its a beautiful day, the sun is shining and theres a gentle breeze. The road is yours and the possibilities are endless.
Youre driving a car. The road is long and you are lonely. The weather isnt as perfect as it used to be. You pass a hitchhiker. Not just any hitchhiker, but the coolest looking guy around. Hes super fashionable and friendly with effortless confidence. You could use a friend. So you pick him up.
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How Eating Disorders Affect Romantic Relationships
Romantic relationships require honesty, vulnerability and intimacy from both partners in order to be healthy and successful, and the very nature of eating disorders erodes these crucial relationship elements.
In an article in Psychology Today, Carrie Gottlieb, PhD, talks about the effects eating disorders often have on relationships. A person with an eating disorder is intensely preoccupied with food, weight and shape, making it difficult at times for them to think of anything else. In fact, eating disorders can become so preoccupying that they virtually take the place of other interpersonal relationships.1
As your loved one slips deeper into symptoms, there is increased distance in what should be a close, intimate relationship. Shame and secrecy replace vulnerability and honesty as the eating disorder tightens its grip on its victim. Its not surprising, then, that romantic partners of people with eating disorders often report feeling decreased emotional intimacy in their relationships.1
Signs And Symptoms Of Anorexia
The symptoms of anorexia are not always immediately clear. A dramatic weight loss could be caused by a different health condition. There are other behavioral signs that signal anorexia.
Behavioral signs of anorexia include:
- Obsessive thoughts about body weight
- Fear of gaining weight or desire to be thin
- Only eating low-calorie food;
- Distorted body image
- Being deceptive about weight and eating habits
- Focusing only on food;
- Obsessive rituals around food and eating habits
Anorexia can also have physical symptoms. Those experiencing anorexia may feel:
- Exhausted or tired
- Distracted and unable to concentrate
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When To See The Doctor For Anorexia
If you’re concerned that you or a loved one has anorexia, it’s crucial to seek help as soon as possible. Treating this eating disorder early on is critical to a successful long-term recovery. Initially, you’ll consult with your doctor who can check on your overall health and refer you to specialists.;
While you can get a diagnosis from a dietician, nutritionist, or psychiatrist, it’s best to start with your primary care doctor so they can assess your health and recommend other medical professionals and treatments.
You’re Always Hyperaware Of What The People Around You Are Eating
One of the reasons you’re so concerned with what you’re eating in public is because you’re concerned about what your food intake is like compared to others peoples’. A person with an eating disorder becomes unhealthily preoccupied with what other people are choosing to eat at any given moment of the day.
For example, in any office or classroom setting I was in, I would never be the first person to whip out a snack. I closely watched what all the people around me were doing and only followed their cue if it wouldn’t bring me any unwanted attention. It was an exhausting way to live, and ignoring your own body’s needs to that extent takes a toll on you.
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What Is An Eating Problem
An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult.
Many people think that someone with an eating problem will be over or underweight. People might also think that certain weights are linked to certain eating problems. Neither of these points are true.
Anyone can experience eating problems. This is regardless of age, gender, weight or background.
Food plays a significant part in our lives. Most of us will spend time thinking about what we eat. Sometimes you might:
- have cravings
- try to eat healthier.
Changing your eating habits like this every now and again is normal.
But if you feel like food and eating is taking over your life, it may become a problem.
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms
How do you know if you have the condition? If you have it, youll probably have experienced three of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than you usually do
- Eating until youre uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when you’re not hungry
- Eating alone, and feeling embarrassed about it
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after eating
If at least once a week for three months youre eating an unusually large amount of food in a short period of time two hours, for example and feeling a loss of control, you could meet the criteria for binge eating disorder, explains Wilkins. She says some people will eat the equivalent of an entire cheesecake, or a pint of frozen yogurt, or 20 cookies in a short span of time. You might eat your food quickly, almost without tasting it, and keep eating until youre uncomfortably full.
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It Leaves Little Energy For Anything Else
When Im really struggling, its amazing how incredibly small my world suddenly gets. Everything suddenly revolves around food and weight and body image.
I wish people could understand how it feels to look in the mirror every day and feel so enormous that you dont deserve to live. Theres immense shame and self-hatred burning deep and fiercely within me. I need people to understand this isnt just a self-conscious phase, a fad, or dramatized suffering to get attention. It isnt just wanting to be thin for our societys ideal of what is beautiful.
These thoughts and obsessions come like fire and they latch on and destroy. The voice of my eating disorder tells me I need to get to amount of pounds, then lower and lower. It tells me I have to do whatever it takes to get therethat I literally dont deserve to live at the weight Im at now.
Every single day Im not losing weight is a day I hate myself and beat myself up. Deep down, theres a burning assurance and deep conviction that if I change my body, Ill change my life.
The Psychological Aspects Of Eating Disorders
When Joyce, a 23-year-old bulimic, came to our center for a treatment consultation, she explained her situation this way: “I have a nice apartment, a good job, a terrific boyfriend. Everything would be going okay if it wasn’t for the binging and vomiting. ;I’ve tried to make myself stop but I can’t. If you could just help me get rid of the bulimia, I’d be okay. I’m worried it’s going to ruin my health.”Joyce was upset and confused by her eating disorder. Why was she binging, even though it was so offensive to her? Was she lacking in willpower or strength of character? When they learned of Joyce’s eating disorder, her parents were also confused. Joyce seemed to have everything going for her. What was wrong? Joyce herself did not know. AD she knew was that she could not stop binging and did not want to be fat. She would relieve this awful fullness by vomiting. For Joyce, the reasons she was compelled to binge and vomit were as unknown to her as they were to those observing her.
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