Eating Disorders

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What are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are complex psychological and medical conditions that affect approximately 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States (National Association of Eating Disorders, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org).  The path of thought that leads one to appear consumed with body image, calories, exercise, and other seemingly compulsive behaviors is generally mystifying to those who do not suffer from eating disorders.  Even more confusing is the fact that there is not a simple to answer to the question of "why" someone would engage in these behaviors.  The "why" is unique to the individual sufferer. 

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Psychological Signs of Eating Disorders

 *While the following signs are not all-inclusive and do not constitute a diagnosis of an eating disorder, they are characteristics common among eating disorders.  This list should not be a substitute for treatment of eating disorders. 

  • becoming preoccupied with calorie counting, weight, calories, food or food groups, and/or exercise
  • intense fear of becoming fat
  • perfectionistic attitude (can be in relation to being thin, school or work, appearance, etc.)
  • feeling depressed and/or anxious
  • defensiveness or hostility when the person's eating habits or exercise habits are brought up
  • feelings of guilt or disgust after eating

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Signs of Eating Disorders

 

  • vomiting after eating large quantities (or vomiting after eating in general)
  • laxative abuse
  • skin becoming dry
  • hair and nails may become brittle
  • loss of menstrual cycle
  • weight loss or weight gain not associated with a medical illness
  • weakness, fainting, or blackouts
  • makes excuses to avoid eating meals with others (family or friends)
  • may really enjoy cooking for others, but does not eat what he or she cooks
  • increase in physical activity -  may appear "addicted" to exercise
  • withdrawing socially (from friends, family, significant other, etc.)
  • developing a pattern of eating rituals (i.e., eating all of one food on a plate at a time before moving on to the next, cutting food into small pieces,  or re-arranging food on a plate to make it look as if it were eaten, etc.)
  • irritability