There is more to eating disorders than just food, even though the term “eating” is in the name. They’re complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course. This article will explore the various eating disorders and their symptoms.
People suffering from eating disorders may exhibit a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include severe dietary restriction, eating binges, and purging behaviours such as vomiting or excessive exercise.
What is Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are a group of psychological illnesses that lead to the development of poor eating patterns. They may begin with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.
If left untreated, eating disorders can have substantial health repercussions and could result in death in severe circumstances. In fact, eating disorders are among the most lethal mental conditions, coming in second only to heroin addiction.
Types of Eating Disoorders
Anorexia Nervosa: extreme weight loss due to restriction of intake, often accompanied by a fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
Bulimia Nervosa: recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food (binging), followed by attempts to compensate for the behaviour by purging (such as through self-induced vomiting or use of laxatives)
Binge Eating Disorder: recurrent episodes of substantial overeating (at least once a week for 6 months) without any compensatory behaviour like purging or excessive exercise
Diabulimia: the practice among people with diabetes who are concerned about their weight of restricting insulin intake in order to reduce calories and lose weight; this can lead to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), which can cause serious health problems if left untreated
Psychogenic Polyphagia: a condition characterized by an excessive appetite and inability to control one’s food intake, despite having no physiological need for additional calories; this may be caused by emotional factors such as stress or depression
Pica: eating non-nutritive substances like dirt or clay.
Pica patients may be more prone to poisoning, infections, stomach injuries, and nutritional deficits.
However, in order for the disease to be classified as pica, ingesting non-food items must not be a common practise in someone’s culture or religion.
Furthermore, it must not be seen as a socially acceptable conduct by a person’s peers.
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What are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders?
Anorexia nervosa causes people to restrict their intake of food and beverages to the point where it becomes unhealthy.
People who have anorexia often view themselves as being overweight even when they’re not. It also causes them to have a distorted view of what a healthy body looks like.
Bulimia nervosa causes people to go through periods of binging on large amounts of food followed by purging through vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics.
People who have bulimia often feel ashamed about their behaviour but feel unable to control their eating habits. It also causes them to be preoccupied with weight and body image.
Binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of uncontrolled overeating along with feelings of shame and guilt afterwards.
People who have BED often struggle with feeling out of control when it comes to food intake but aren’t necessarily concerned about weight or body shape like someone with anorexia or bulimia would be.
The biggest myth about eating disorders is that they’re just about weight and calories. They’re not—they’re about so much more than that.
Signs of Eating Disorders
- dramatic weight loss
- concern about eating in public
- preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, or dieting
- complaints of constipation, cold intolerance, abdominal pain, lethargy, or excess energy
- excuses to avoid mealtime
- intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
- dressing in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
- severely limiting and restricting the amount and types of food consumed
- refusing to eat certain foods
- denying feeling hungry
People with eating disorders suffer from low self-esteem and often feel like they’re not good enough or don’t measure up to other people’s standards.
They often have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though they’re usually extremely thin or underweight.
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People with eating disorders also tend to be very rigid and restrictive when it comes to what they eat—they might limit their intake to just a few foods or have specific rules about how those foods should be prepared (for example, no butter).
It’s important to know that these behaviours are signs that something might be wrong—not necessarily that someone has an eating disorder.
But if these behaviours seem related to your loved one, then it might be time for you both to get help from a professional who can help determine what’s going on and how best to deal with it.