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What Are Eating Disorders

02 May 2016 Written by 

Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors—following rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals, obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.

People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.

  • Anorexia – People with anorexia starve themselves out of an intense fear of becoming fat. Despite being underweight or even emaciated, they never believe they’re thin enough. In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
  • Bulimia – Bulimia involves a destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. Following an episode of out-of-control binge eating, people with bulimia take drastic steps to purge themselves of the extra calories. In order to avoid weight gain they vomit, exercise, fast, or take laxatives.

Binge Eating Disorder – People with binge eating disorder compulsively overeat, rapidly consuming thousands of calories in a short period of time. Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.

 

Common eating disorder warning signs

  • Preoccupation with body or weight
  • Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition
  • Constant dieting, even when thin
  • Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Taking laxatives or diet pills
  • Compulsive exercising
  • Making excuses to get out of eating
  • Avoiding social situations that involve food
  • Going to the bathroom right after meals
  • Eating alone, at night, or in secret
  • Hoarding high-calorie food

Helping your child with an eating disorder

Many kids with an eating disorder will react defensively and angrily when confronted for the first time. In addition to the health problems, kids who have an eating disorder are probably not having much fun. They tend to pull away from friends and keep to themselves, avoiding going out for pizza with their friends, for example, or enjoying a birthday party.

If you suspect your child has an eating disorder but he or she denies anything is wrong, book an appointment with their pediatrician or family doctor, or ask a school counselor, religious leader, or trusted friend to help. Often kids find it easier to admit that they have a problem to someone outside of their immediate family. A doctor will also be able to determine if there are any signs of the serious health problems associated with an eating disorder. Also, eating disorder specialists are used to dealing with children who refuse to admit they have a problem. They are experienced dealing with denial and making a child feel comfortable talking about the problem.

Content Originally Published By: HelpGuide.org

Read More: Signs of an Eating Disorder

Read 789 times Last modified on Wednesday, 02 November 2016 17:55
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