What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders includes extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors pertaining to food and weight. Eating disorders can involve the restriction of food, binging on large amounts of food in a short period of time, and destructive behaviors to prevent weigh gain such as self-induced vomiting or taking excessive laxatives. Eating disorders often have complex and devastating consequences for one’s health, productivity, and relationships.

What factors contribute to Eating Disorders?

While an eating disorder may seem to be an unhealthy obsession with food and weight, it is really a symptom of something deeper. It is common to find that the control that people try to establish within their eating disordered behaviors are really just the person’s attempt at coping with strong emotions and anxiety that exists in other areas of their life. Psychological factors that can contribute to Eating Disorders may include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, and/or depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness. Interpersonal factors can also contribute. These factors can include troubled personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotions and feelings, history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight, or even a history of physical or sexual abuse. Social pressures are very strong especially with the increase use of social media. There are cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body”. This places all of a person’s value on what they physically look like on the outside and discount the inner qualities.

What are the different types of Eating Disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa is when the person takes in an inadequate amount of food that leads to a weight that is clearly too low. The person also has an intense fear of weight gain, an obsession with weight and uses persistent behaviors as a means for preventing weight gain. Their self-esteem is overly related to their body image. Unfortunately they lack the ability to appreciate the severity of their situation. There are two types. The first is Binge-Eating/Purging Type and it involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors. The second is Restricting Type and does not involve binge eating or purging.

Binge Eating Disorder has also been called compulsive overeating. It involves frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting. The person generally indicates that there is a feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes. There are also strong feelings of shame and/or guilt in regards to the binge eating. There are certain signs that the binge eating is out of control. These include behaviors such as eating when not hungry, eating to a point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.

 

Bulimia Nervosa also involves the consumption of very large amounts of food. However, it is followed by behaviors that are being used to prevent weight gain. These behaviors can include self-induced vomiting, use of excessive amounts of laxatives, and excessive exercise. The person generally indicates that there is a feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes. Their self-esteem is overly related to their body image

Seeking Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are treated through a combination of interventions. Medication and Psychotherapy are common options, and psychotherapy (counseling) can take many forms. Finding a clinician that is a good fit with you is very important, and something that is at the forefront of your experience with The Juniper Center. If you have questions about starting treatment for an Eating Disorder, please don’t hesitate to contact us.