Do I have an eating disorder?
Because we live in a culture obsessed with thinness and dieting, you may find it difficult to recognize when your thoughts and behaviors have become dangerous. Eating disorders are very serious and have an impact on both physical and mental health. Left untreated, they can be fatal.
Individuals may develop eating disorders as a way of dealing with the conflicts, pressures and stresses of their lives. Eating disorders are often a vehicle to express control when the rest of your life seems out of control. Some people are more prone to be at risk than others because of genetics, heredity, family dynamics or temperament.
When and Where to Seek Help
If you feel you may be exhibiting the warning signs of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, it is important to seek professional counseling as soon as possible. Contact The Renfrew Center at 1-800-RENFREW (736-3739) – we are here to help you.
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia (clinically known as anorexia nervosa) is self-imposed starvation. It is a serious, life-threatening disorder which usually stems from underlying emotional causes. Although people with anorexia are obsessed with food, they continually deny their hunger and often limit or restrict other parts of their lives in addition to food—relationships, social activities or pleasure. Anorexia can cause serious medical problems and even lead to death.
Warning Signs of Anorexia
Here are some of the common warning signs that indicate that you may be suffering from anorexia.
- Are thin and keep getting thinner, losing 15% or more of your ideal body weight
- Continue to diet or restrict foods even though you are not overweight
- Have a distorted body image—feel fat even when you are thin
- Are preoccupied with food, calories, nutrition, or cooking
- Deny that you are hungry
- Exercise obsessively
- Weigh yourself frequently
- Complain about feeling bloated or nauseated even when you eat average—or less than average—amounts of food
- Lose your hair or begin to experience thinning hair
- Feel cold even though the temperature is normal or only slightly cool
- Stop menstruating
What is Bulimia?
Bulimia (clinically known as bulimia nervosa) is the repeated cycle of out-of-control eating followed by some form of purging. Bulimia is a serious eating disorder which can be fatal. The purging associated with bulimia may be self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, or obsessive exercising. People with bulimia often feel out of control in many areas of their lives and may spend money excessively, abuse drugs or alcohol or engage in chaotic relationships.
Bulimia can have serious medical consequences including dental and esophageal problems, kidney damage, chemical imbalance, and an overall loss of energy and vitality.
Warning Signs of Bulimia
Here are some of the common warning signs that you may be suffering from bulimia.
- Engage in binge eating and cannot voluntarily stop
- Use the bathroom frequently after meals
- React to emotional stress by overeating
- Have menstrual irregularities
- Have swollen glands
- Experience frequent fluctuations in weight
- Cannot voluntarily stop eating
- Are obsessively concerned about weight
- Attempt to adhere to diets, but generally fail
- Feel guilty or ashamed about eating
- Feel out of control
- Have depressive moods or mood swings
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is more commonly referred to as compulsive overeating and can affect women or men, though it appears twice as often among women. People with binge eating disorder suffer from episodes of uncontrolled eating or bingeing followed by periods of guilt and depression. A binge is marked by the consumption of large amounts of food, sometimes accompanied by a pressured, "frenzied" feeling. Frequently, a compulsive overeater continues to eat even after she becomes uncomfortably full. Those identified as having binge eating disorder generally do not purge. Although many who meet the criteria for this category are larger than average, many are of average size and weight.
Binge eating can lead to serious medical problems including high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder
Here are some of the common warning signs that suggest you may be suffering from binge eating disorder.
- Eat large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eat much more rapidly than normal
- Eat until the point of feeling uncomfortably full
- Often eat alone because of shame or embarrassment
- Have feelings of depression, disgust or guilt after eating
- Have a history of marked weight fluctuations
ARFID is an acronym for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. It is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by an individual’s high level of sensitivity and aversion to certain foods based on the food’s appearance, smell, taste, texture, brand, presentation or past negative experience. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, ARFID’s symptoms do not reflect concerns over body size, weight or shape. However, like all eating disorders, ARFID can have serious medical consequences, affecting growth and development in children and everyday body functioning in adults. Emotional and behavioral consequences, as well as, difficulty in carrying out the tasks of everyday living may also result.
Below are common warning signs that may indicate someone is suffering from ARFID.
- Avoid eating certain foods due to their texture, color, odor, or flavor
- Avoid eating certain foods due to fear that something bad will happen if the food is eaten such as stomach discomfort, choking, gagging, or vomiting
- Experience a strong, aversive emotional or physiological reaction to eating or being asked to eat typically avoided foods
- Poor appetite or disinterest in eating
- Isolation from family, friends and social events due to anxiety related to eating