Health & Diet

Eating Disorders – Symptoms And Treatments

Goldilocks | Eating DisordersPhoto by [Daniela Brown Photography]

Eating disorders are serious conditions which are related to constant eating behaviours which negatively impact your emotions, your health, and your ability to properly function in important parts of your life.

Binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa are the most common eating disorders. The majority of eating disorders is focused on body shape, food and weight, which leads to dangerous eating behaviours.

These eating disorders can seriously impact the ability of your body to get enough nutrition. They can also harm the digestive system, bones, teeth and mouth, heart, and lead to many other diseases. Although eating disorders can develop at any age, they often develop in the young adults and teens.

Causes

It is still unknown what causes eating disorders. However, just like with other mental illnesses, there can be a lot of causes, such as: psychological and emotional health, society, and genetics.

Symptoms

Depending of the type of eating disorder, symptoms vary. Binge-eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are the most common types of eating disorders.

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Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening eating disorder which is characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight, abnormally low body weight, and a distorted perception of shape or weight. People who suffer from anorexia use a lot of efforts to control their shape and weight, which usually significantly interferes with their life activities and health.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is very serious and life-threatening eating disorder. People who suffer from bulimia have episodes of purging and bingeing which involve feeling a lack of control over your eating. A lot o people with bulimia restrict their intake of food during the day, and that usually leads to more binge eating and purging.

Binge-eating disorder

People with binge-eating disorder regularly feel a lack of control over their eating and they eat too much food (binge). Those people eat more food than intended and they eat quickly, even when they are not hungry, and they may continue eating even when they’re uncomfortably full.

Symptoms of an eating disorder

Be aware for eating patterns that can signal unhealthy behaviour and the pressure of peer which can trigger eating disorders. Symptoms which can indicate an eating disorder are:

– Adopting a restrictive vegetarian diet
– Making own meals rather than eating with the family
– Persistent complaining about being fat and talking about losing weight
– Repeatedly eating huge amounts of high-fat foods or sweets
– Excessive exercising
– Problems with loss of tooth which can be a sign of repeated vomiting
– Eating much more food in a meal than is considered normal
– Eating in secret
– Making excuses for not eating or skipping meals
– Focusing too much on healthy eating
– Avoiding normal social activities
– Use of laxatives, dietary supplements or herbal products for weight loss
– Going to the toilet during meals
– Expressing disgust, guilt, shame or depression about eating habits

Treatments

Generally, treatment of an eating disorder involves a team approach. Typically, the team includes mental health providers and dietitians, and medical providers. Treatment depends of the specific type of an eating disorder. However, it usually includes medication, nutrition education and psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy – Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, helps you to learn how to replace unhealthy habits with habits which are good for your health. This includes family-based therapy (FBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Nutrition education and weight normalization – People who are underweight due to an eating disorder will start getting back to a healthy weight in the first step of treatment.

Hospitalization – People who have a serious health problem, such as anorexia, which has resulted in severe malnutrition, may be hospitalized on a psychiatric or medical ward.

Medications – Although, medications cannot cure an eating disorder, they can help you control urges to purge or binge or to manage excessive preoccupations with diet and food.

Prevention

Even though there is no sure way to prevent an eating disorder, some strategies might help you to develop healthy-eating behaviours, such as:

– Encouraging healthy-eating habits and avoiding dieting
– It’s important to be aware of risks of an eating disorder
– Reinforce and cultivate a healthy body image

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