Looking beyond the food only?
Has your urge to eat less or more food, spiraled out of control?
Are you overly concerned about your outward appearance?

If so, you may have an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. They are biologically-influenced medical illnesses. Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life (40 years and older).

Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.

It is important that we learn more about them to help you spot the warning signs and seek assistance early.

Obsessions with food, body weight, and shape may be signs of an eating disorder. These disorders can affect a person’s physical and mental health; in some cases, they can be life-threatening. But eating disorders can be treated.

What are the common types of eating disorders?

Anorexia nervosa.

People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly.

There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and binge-purge subtype.

Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume.

Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge eating and purging behaviors (such as vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics, etc.).

Anorexia nervosa.

People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may see themselves as overweight. They may also weigh themselves repeatedly.

There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: a restrictive subtype and binge-purge subtype.

Restrictive: People with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume.

Binge-Purge: People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa also place severe restrictions on the amount and type of food they consume. In addition, they may have binge eating and purging behaviors (such as vomiting, use of laxatives and diuretics, etc.).

Symptoms include:

  • Extremely restricted eating and/or intensive and excessive exercise.
  • Extreme thinness (emaciation).
  • A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight.
  • Distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight.

Over time, these symptoms may also develop:

  • Thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis).
  • Mild anemia and muscle wasting and weakness.
  • Brittle hair and nails.
  • Dry and yellowish skin.
  • Growth of fine hair all over the body (lanugo).
  • Severe constipation.
  • Low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse.
  • Damage to the structure and function of the heart.
  • Drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time.
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, or feeling tired all the time.
  • Brain damage.
  • Multiorgan failure.

Anorexia can be fatal. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality (death) rate of any mental disorder. People with anorexia may die from medical conditions and complications associated with starvation; by comparison, people with others eating disorders die of suicide.

Binge-eating disorder.

People with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, periods of binge-eating are not followed by purging, excessive exercise, or fasting. As a result, people with binge-eating disorder are often overweight or obese.

Symptoms include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period.
  • Eating fast during binge episodes.
  • Eating even when full or not hungry.
  • Eating until uncomfortably full.
  • Eating alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment.
  • Feeling distressed, ashamed, or guilty about eating.
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss.

Bigorexia.

 

Muscle dysmorphia is a subtype of the obsessive mental disorder body dysmorphic disorder, but is often also grouped with eating disorders. In muscle dysmorpha, which is sometimes called “bigorexia“, “megarexia“, or “reverse anorexia“, the delusional or exaggerated belief is that one’s own body is too small, too skinny, insufficiently muscular, or insufficiently lean, although in most cases, the individual’s build is normal or even exceptionally large and muscular already.Muscle dysmorphia affects mostly males, particularly those involved in sports where body size or weight are competitive factors, becoming rationales to gain muscle or become leaner.

The quest to seemingly fix one’s body consumes inordinate time, attention, and resources, as on exercise routines, dietary regimens, and nutritional supplementation, while use of anabolic steroids is also common. Other body-dysmorphic preoccupations that are not muscle-dysmorphic are usually present as well.

Although likened to anorexia nervosa, muscle dysmorphia is especially difficult to recognize, since awareness of it is scarce and persons experiencing muscle dysmorphia typically remain healthy looking. The distress and distraction of muscle dysmorphia provoke absences from school, work, and social settings. Compared to other body dysmorphic disorders, rates of suicide attempts are especially high with muscle dysmorphia. Researchers believe that muscle dysmorphia’s incidence is rising, partly due to the recent cultural emphasis on muscular male bodies.

Battling to even think of exercise ?