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Do you or someone you Love Suffer from an Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorders are serious illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors, related thoughts, social situations, self-image, and emotion, becoming an unhealthy preoccupation.  A dangerous preoccupation with food and body weight.  These disorders can be difficult for family and friends to spot as the individual may go to great lengths to hide it.  Many people whom suffer from this disorder are actually unaware themselves that they have a problem. Eating disorders interfere with a persons day to day life, in no way is it a cry for attention or simply falling off the diet wagon.

If you or someone you know is experiencing some of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek help immediately.  Since shame and guilt are associated with having an eating disorder, it may be very difficult to detect.  A professional evaluation is keen in these scenarios as it is possible for a person to demonstrate some of these signs and not have an eating disorder and please keep in mind that eating disorders don’t have to be exactly the same as another one. Seek a professional opinion in your specific case.

Symptoms:

  • Constant or repetitive dieting
  • Disappearance of large amounts of food from the kitchen
  • Vomiting or laxative abuse
  • Excessive or compulsive exercise patterns
  • Making lists of “good” or “bad” foods
  • Frequently making excuses to not eat meals
  • Patterns or obsessive rituals around food preparation or eating
  • Changes in food preferences (refusing to eat previously enjoyed foods)
  • Avoidance of all social situations
  • Strong behaviors around planning to eat
  • Preoccupation with body image and appearances; shape and weight
  • Repetitive or obsessive body checking behaviors
  • Eating very slowly
  • Continuous denial of hunger
  • Deceptive behavior such as throwing away food or eating in secret
  • Change in clothes; wearing baggier clothing
  • Rapid and sudden weight loss
  • Fainting, dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen cheeks, jaws, calluses on knuckles, damaged teeth (signs of frequent vomiting)
  • Loss or disturbance of menstrual periods in a woman
  • Abnormal sensitivity to cold
  • Distorted body image
  • Heightened sensitivity to critics or comments about their body weight, shape, habits
  • Heightened anxiety around mealtime
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Irritability or Moodiness
  • Low Self-Esteban
  • Feeling out of control over their own life and around food

The following are the main types of Eating Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa – Low body weight, food restriction, unhealthy fear of gaining weight or strong desire to be thin.  Individuals may weigh themselves frequently because they may see themselves as overweight. Because of this they only eat small amounts of food and/or only certain kinds of foods.  Some will use vomiting and abuse laxatives to reach their “normal weight”. Anorexia can result in unhealthy, often dangerous weight loss and a distorted body image.

Bulimia – Binge and Purging. Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder where a person develops an obsessive and harmful attitude with food and their body weight. People with Bulimia trap themselves in a cycle of binge eating and then purging. More than often individuals will go to great lengths to hide their condition from family and friends. Not only can bulimia cause serious complications to a person’s mental health but also their physical health. Because of the purging of stomach acid, this can damage the thorax and teeth. Purging can come in different forms from self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives, or exercising obsessively as a way to counteract “weight gain”.

Binge Eating – Eating compulsively. Binge eating varies from Bulimia as the individuals do not purge. This disorder involves eating a lot of food in a short amount of time, eating until they are uncomfortably full, eating when not physically hungry, and feeling depressed afterward. More food is eaten than normal and the individual may feel out of control about how much they eat. The individual may have a history of weight gains and losses. Binge Eating can also cause serious complications to a person’s mental health. The physical dangers include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, etc..

Therapy can help the sufferer change unhealthy eating habits for healthy ones and normalize their eating patterns to achieve a healthy weight and most importantly, a healthy self-image. It’s very important to get the right support and tools to work on healthy ways to cope with stressful situations and avoiding negative thoughts of self-worth. There are many different approaches and the best treatment depends on the particular eating disorder and the individual.

Our team of Licensed Therapists here at MindShift Psychological Services are here to help! Get in touch and schedule an appointment at 714-584-9700.