I was surprised to learn that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. In fact, it is estimated that 8 to 10 million Americans have an eating disorder. The problem is that many times an eating disorder can be hidden. You can’t just look at the weight of a person, to diagnose the problem. In general, an eating disorder is characterized by abnormal eating patters. In other words, eating is for psychological instead of physical needs.
- Anorexia Nervosa – Self-starvation, rapid weight loss, and a distorted body image.
- Bulimia Nervosa, – Compulsive eating followed by purging. This does not have to be throwing up. Purging can also be done by abusing laxatives.
ENDOS Types (eating disorder not otherwise specified)
- Binge Eating – Characterized by frequent periods of compulsive, or excessive eating. There is no purging involved.
- Orthorexia – An obsession with food quality rather than quantity. A thin body is not the goal here, it’s a drive for personal purity.
- Night Eating Syndrome – An individual wakes up during the night and is unable to go back to sleep without eating food. This can happen several times, during the night.
- Pica – Compulsion to eat non-food items. It can include things like paper, cigarettes butts, and even sharp objects.
- Bigorexia – Compulsive work outs to increase muscle size.
- Body Dysmorphic – Seeing something different in the mirror, than those around you.
How to Spot an Eating Disorder (the noticeable signs)
- Secretive Behavior, like hiding food or never eating around other people
- A sudden drop in weight
- Only eating a few foods and eating them in small amounts
- Leaving the table immediately after meal
- Exercising Excessively
- Skipping meals, usually including an excuse like “I already ate”
- Use of laxative, diet pill and diuretics
You might also notice things, bad breath, thinning hair, watery eyes and or swelling in the cheeks.
In the late 1990’s a movement called pro-ana or sometimes just “ana” started. It stands for pro-anorexia. There is also one called pro-mia for pro-bulimia. The advocates say that being super thin is not a disease, it is a lifestyle choice. Similarly, the pro-mia members feel that vomiting is not a disease, just a weight controlling activity. These sub-culture movements can easily be seen on websites like Pinterest and Tumbler. Featured, are photos of crazy thin people called “thinspiration”. Tips are shared on things like “how to deal with hunger pains” or “how to vomit discreetly”. It is a place to find support. One tag line is “I love you to the bones”.
Eating disorders are common in certain professions like modeling, gymnastics and dancing. There many celebrities that have battled eating disorders including:
Billy Bob Thornton
and so many more ……
What is Normal Eating
Taken from “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family” 1999 Kelcy Press
Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it — not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but NOT being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at time: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also under-eating at time and wishing you had more.
People who seek help for an eating disorder can recover and go on to live a healthy normal life. Early diagnosis and intervention provide for a better chance at recovery. Treatment is normally in the form of counseling coupled with medical attention. If you are your loved one needs help, please find the courage to make a change.
The disease affects men too!. However, The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about the illness at women’s health.gov
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