Food should be meant for nutrition, pleasure, and celebration. Unfortunately, food can also be used as a destructive tool or coping mechanism. Within a list of eating disorders, there are approximately 10 million women and one million men that suffer from a negative relationship with food—and this is just in the United States alone.
While we might think an eating disorder is limited to either being too fat or too skinny, there are some eating disorders that are not easily notable in an individual’s appearance. If you or someone you know is looking for help for an eating disorder, check out some of these helpful online courses on emotional eating on how to overcome some common issues with food that millions of others suffer from as well. Let’s also take a moment to look in a list of eating disorders to see what types of eating disorders there are that plague so many individuals today.
People with anorexia nervosa will typically appear underweight. Anorexics severely restrict the number of calories they consume each day. Here are some facts about this slimming disease:
- In 76% of its cases, anorexia occurs between the ages of 11 to 20.
- 10 times more women develop anorexia than men.
- Anorexia can be irreversible without treatment if it has gone unnoticed for a long time.
- Anorexia can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medical attention. However, only about 1/3rd of people with the disease seek treatment.
- Anorexia has the highest recorded death rate of any mental illness, with 50% of its deaths being suicides.
Some signs of anorexia:
- Extreme or rapid weight loss.
- Brittle nails, hair, and bones.
- Irregular or complete cessation of menstruation.
- Denial of appetite or individual’s inability to eat with others.
- Symptoms similar to depression.
Individuals who are bulimic will commit to compulsory binge eating and indulging in food in spurts. Although their habits are the opposite of anorexic individuals, the effects of this disease are just as dangerous.
- Bulimics will purge their food through self-induced vomiting.
- Bulimics will use laxatives or diuretics to flush food from their bodies.
- Bulimics are generally caught in a cycle of binging-and-purging in an attempt to not gain weight from their binges.
- Bulimia is especially dangerous in that it can cause an imbalance of electrolytes from frequent vomiting. This can lead to heart problems and premature death in its sufferers.
- Bulimia can occur with other psychological problems, drug and alcohol abuse, or sexual abuse.
- Bulimia occurs mostly in late adolescence and early adulthood.
- The recovery rate for bulimia is an impressive 70%; much higher than anorexia.
Some signs of bulimia nervosa:
- Discolored teeth as a result of excessive vomiting.
- Swollen jaws or cheeks.
- Calluses on hands as a result of vomiting.
- Compulsive exercise to rid of excessive calories or to override binges.
Being healthy is one thing, but being obsessively healthy to the point where you are only eating health foods is another issue entirely. Individuals who suffer from orthorexia nervosa are manic and obsessive about achieving a state of body purity by only eating certain “health” foods.
- Orthorexics monitor their food consumption and stick to a rigid schedule.
- Orthorexics develop compulsive behaviors such as strict meal planning.
- Effects of orthorexia are usually not life threatening unless calorie intake is limited. However, the disease is mentally destructive.
- Like other eating disorders, orthorexia will affect a person’s social life based on its restrictiveness and rigid schedule.
Like bulimia, binge eaters consume an excessive amount of food in one sitting. However, binge eaters do not purge their calories. Instead, they deal with feelings of extreme shame or guilt from the binge-eating habits.
- Binge eaters withdraw from social situations because of their shame and guilt associated with food.
- Binge eating can lead to medical problems such as: heart disease, type II diabetes, or high cholesterol or blood pressure.
- Binge eating can be treated with different types of therapy or anti depressant or anxiety medications.
Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
In addition to the above mentioned eating disorders, there are also other eating disorders that do not fit in those categories. These are described as EDNOS, or eating disorders not otherwise specified. They are disorders involving food that causes significant distress or impairment on an individual, but does not meet the criteria for the specific eating disorders. Some examples of these include:
- Anorexia nervosa where an individual’s weight is not below normal.
- Bulimia nervosa with less frequent purging behavior,
- Binge-eating with less frequent binging occurrences.
- Purging without binge eating.
- Night eating syndrome in which excessive food is consumed after hours.
How to Help Someone With An Eating Disorder
If you suspect that someone you know has an eating disorder, here are some things that you can do to help them out:
- Understand what eating disorders are, their causes, and what can be done.
- If your friend shows no signs of seeking help, they probably have not reached a point where their eating disorder costs outweigh the “benefits”. Try to understand what benefits your friend sees in having an eating disorder.
- Ask your friend how they feel about recovery. Listen to them talk without being judgmental.
- Know that change does not happen right away, and hopefully, overtime, they can come to trust that you want the best for them.
If You Have an Eating Disorder
If you have an eating disorder yourself and are exhibiting some of the physical or emotion signs mentioned above, here is what you can do:
- Find a friend or someone you trust to speak with and ask for help.
- Understand that overcoming an eating disorder is a journey, and it will take time. Be patient with yourself and trust others who you know what to help.
Find or Give Help
Having an unhealthy relationship with food can result in a list of eating disorders that are not just limited to one. There are plenty of causes of eating disorders, and each individual person will have a different story. The main thing to remember about eating disorders is that they can be treated with help from professionals. There are courses that will help address these eating issues in a private and confident manner. Get the help you need, or help someone you love today!