Eating Disorders

Common Questions About Eating Disorders

  • I am constantly thinking about food, but why do I feel guilty when I eat?
  • I know I’m overweight. Why doesn’t anyone agree with me?
  • I need to exercise a lot to feel good, but people say I’m compulsive. Am I?

What the experts say: Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are characterized by severe disturbances in eating behavior. These disorders may be called: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and more.

Anorexia Nervosa is present when an individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant disturbance in the perception of the shape or size of his or her body. In addition, females with this disorder cease to menstruate. There are two subgroups: “restricting type” through dieting, fasting and/or excessive exercise, and “binge-eating/purging type.”

Bulimia Nervosa is binge eating followed by inappropriate compensatory methods to prevent weight gain. A binge is defined as eating an unusually large amount of food within a specific period of time. There are two subtypes. One is the “purging type,” in which the person regularly engages in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas. The second is the “non-purging type,” in which the person uses other inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as fasting or excessive exercise, but does not regularly engage in self-induced vomiting or misuse laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT EATING DISORDERS

The issues that are at the core of an eating disorder usually have very little to do with food. Eating disorders stem from a variety of emotional issues such as an unhealthy body image, depression, low self-esteem, and others.

We live in a world that places great significance on appearance and body weight. Since we are constantly surrounded by this message, it becomes easy to believe that if we looked better, we would feel better about ourselves and more people would like us. When someone’s feelings about himself or herself are tied directly to how they believe they look, then unhealthy or unreasonable body image problems can emerge. Even when that person starts to look “good,” they still see themselves as looking fat or unattractive.

It is usually very hard for those with an eating disorder to accept that they actually do have a psychological disorder. And, the stronger their unhealthy and unrealistic beliefs about their body are, the more difficult it is to treat them. Unfortunately, more people die from eating disorders than any other psychological disorder.

At Birmingham Maple Clinic, we believe in a team approach to treatment that includes psychotherapy, medical monitoring, and nutritional counseling. We find this to be the most successful method because it addresses all of the key elements at the same time.

For more information visit National Eating Disorders.org.