Understanding Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating are all classified as eating disorders. Eating disorders affect men, women, boys, and girls. Having an eating disorder is serious. It can cause severe physical and psychological problems. These three types of eating disorders are different, but yet all of them have a common thread – being preoccupied with weight and food.

Anorexia nervosa is an obsession with being thin. This obsession will lead the individual to literally starve. It doesn’t matter how thin a person with anorexia is, when they look in the mirror they see someone that is overweight. Because of this unhealthy body image, they refuse to eat much for fear it could make them fat. A person with anorexia is usually dangerously thin.

Bulimia is when an individual begins a pattern for eating large amounts of food (binging) and then purging after eating. Purging could be vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting, or exercise to an extreme degree to rid the extra calories.

Binge eating is eating excessive quantities of food on a regular basis without some sort of purging. A binge eater will eat even if they are not hungry. Binge eating is usually accompanied with guilt which usually spirals them into another session of eating. Many binge eaters are overweight or obese.

There are several reasons why someone may develop an eating disorder. For one thing, there is an incredible amount of pressure in our society to look a certain way. Many young girls are convinced that being thin equals true beauty. Many get entangled in this snare. Biological factors are another reason. Eating disorders sometimes run in families leading to the possibility that in some cases it could have to do with genes. The last reason is psychological. If someone is a perfectionist, has anxiety, or low self esteem, they could easily fall into an eating disorder. It becomes something that they feel they have control over. Eating disorders are accompanied with other issues such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.

Overcoming an eating disorder is very difficult, but it can be done with the help of psychotherapy. In addition to intense therapy, nutritional education is also recommended. If not treated, eating disorders can lead to death. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, seek out help immediately. Contact my office if you live in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area.

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