Eating Disorders: Signs and Causes
Although the reasons for eating disorders are diverse, the symptoms are quite common. Some of the symptoms of an eating disorder are obsessive exercise, calorie counting, fat gram counting, starvation or restriction, a compulsive interest in health and food issues, self-induced vomiting, and the use of diet pills, laxatives or diuretics. Another symptom is a persistently negative body image expressed constantly with statements like “I am so fat,” “I hate my body,” and “If I was thin everything would be better.” People with eating disorders may express some of the above listed symptoms in patterns, fluctuating between what seems like healthy eating patterns and harmful ones.
Eating disorders are in fact distinguished more by the emotions that underlie them than by the eating habits that accompany them. A person who suffers from anorexia or bulimia may not even be abnormally thin; they may simply express an obsession with their weight rather than starve themselves or vomit after eating. Eating disorders also do not all have the same emotional source. For some women eating disorders are the result of an extreme need for control or a constant need for acceptance. For others it may be the result of sexual abuse and/or a sense that they do not deserve pleasure and so must deny themselves. For some anorexic women starving themselves serves as a test of their limits, a measure of how much control they have over themselves and their emotions. For others still it may be a combination of all the above with low self esteem.
Many of the symptoms of an eating disorder are also associated with a number of other psychiatric problems. Eating disorders are very frequently associated with many other psychiatric illnesses. We don't know exactly what causes eating disorders. Many of the things that are theorized to cause them are also thought to cause other psychological problems.
Are You at Risk?
Being female is the biggest risk factor in developing an eating disorder, as women suffer from either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa with a frequency nine or ten times greater than men. Beyond that, the answer is more complicated. Eating disorders are a result of social, genetic, and environmental factors.
Social pressures are the reason women are afflicted with eating disorder more than men are. Data from studies that have tracked obese women against their healthier counterparts have shown that fat carries a definite stigma with it in our culture. The larger women in these studies were found to be more impoverished, to be less successful academically, and to have a lower chance of marriage than other women did. Thus, media and culture can create incredible pressure for a woman to be thin.
A woman's personal background may increase her chances of developing an eating disorder. In many cases, teenagers who feel that their families do not provide them with enough attention, or if the family is abusive, may turn to food as an aid to their problems. This establishes a complex relationship with food, where it can become both a source of stress alleviation as well as the source of anxiety. Presumably, if a young woman is raised in an environment where she feels nourished, she may be less likely to develop either anorexia or bulimia, since her family is supplying her with the emotional support she requires.
Recent research has indicated that some women are biologically predisposed to develop eating disorders, either through a chemical imbalance or through genetics. For example, it has been shown that low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter used in the brain, can disrupt normal eating patterns. As for the genetic factor, a few studies with twins indicate that at least a few cases of eating disorders may be attributed to inheritance. It is important to note, however, that neither one of these biological bases may be the sole determining factor in whether a woman develops an eating disorder. Instead, they can increase the likelihood that she may become sick, especially though the influences of either social or personal history.
a listing of scientific articles and texts used.
Like drug and alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to determine how do you know if you have an eating disorder. The lines can be gray, but there are certainly some telltale signs that an issue is going on. It’s important to stop it and ask for help before it spirals out of control. Eating disorders of any kind – anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders – don’t need to be dealt with alone. Help exists.
Telltale Signs: How Do You Know If You Have an Eating Disorder?
Learn how to identify eating disorders in yourself before it goes too far and you create irreversible damage to your body. All eating disorders can wreak havoc on your entire system. Some negative side effects of disordered eating include:
- Hair loss. The lack of nutrients can make your hair fall out.
- Skin problems. This includes the growth of a downy “fur” all over your body and face from your body’s attempt to keep itself warm.
- Gastrointestinal issues. This includes stomach ulcers, problems with the esophagus from frequent vomiting, and bowel problems.
- Heart arrhythmias. Not giving your body the strength and nutrition it needs can make your heart skip beats. In extreme cases, it can cause heart failure of death.
- Osteoporosis. Your bones can slowly begin to prematurely deteriorate.
- Fainting and weakness.
- In the case of binge eating, your stomach can rupture after a binge.
Here are some signs that you have an eating disorder and need to speak out and get help.
- You have any of the physical symptoms above and have no other medical reason for having them. This is a huge red flag that you need to get help immediately, because once physical symptoms set in they will only continue to get worse.
- Thoughts about what you have eaten dictate your mood. This works either way – if you feel happy when you’re hungry, or mad or upset when you perceieve that you ate too much. Food intake shouldn’t influence your mood in any sort of extreme way.
- You are hyperfocused on your body. If your self esteem depends on whether or not you think you have a bloated stomach that day, that is a problem. If you spend hours in front of the mirror analyzing yourself and critisizing flaws, also a problem.
- Eating way too few calories for your needs and obsessively counting them. If you are strictly restricting the number of calories you eat even if you don’t need to lose weight, this indicates you are overly focused on what that food is doing to you in terms of weight, when you should really be focused on nutrients and health.
- Binge eating and purging episodes. Feeling out of control when eating usually means you are eating for a reason unrelated to actually being hungry. And, if you purge or get sick afterwards on purpose, this is a clear sign of bulimia.
This all being said, there are many other signs of eating disorders, and some that are very individual to the person. Another clear sign is being in denial that you need help. Being in denial will only make your problem worse. Getting help doesn’t mean that you’ll get larger than you want to be or that you are giving up. It means that you want to make a significant healthy change in your life for a happier future.
Request a Call Back
If you or someone you love is battling a severe chemical dependency, mental health, or eating disorders, please feel free to contact one of our trained cognitive behavioral therapy admissions specialist today. All calls are free and completely confidential. While we know that suffering from a severe and life-threatening substance dependency can, at times, seem insurmountable, we sincerely believe that every woman is capable and deserving of the opportunity to recover. Reaching out is the first step – give us a call today and we will gladly walk you through the process of beginning your beautiful, fulfilling journey of recovery.
Recovery from an eating disorder can be challenging. Treatment providers will often tell you many things you "should" do. While your provider may have your best interests at heart, they may not always emphasize the things you should avoid doing as you continue to get better. The following are several tips to consider as you work to recover from your eating disorder.
Don't Beat Yourself Up
Being self-critical often goes along with many other symptoms of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, exacerbating an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.
Don't Blame Your Family
Although it used to be more commonly believed that parents were a leading cause of disordered eating, the latest research shows that eating disorders have complex causes that include genetic and societal factors. No family is perfect. If your family has been unsupportive, they likely don’t know how to be supportive. Talk with your treatment provider about how to process your relationships to be able to move on as you recover. Many providers will also encourage family sessions and sometimes use teletherapy or online counseling to include family members who live out of town.
Don't Insist That You Can Recover on Your Own
Research shows that people with eating disorders are more likely to recover with a specialized treatment team in place. In most cases, willpower, self-help books, and independent work cannot replace the professional guidance of a therapist, dietitian, and physician. These professionals have years of experience and training to help you on the road to recovery. (Exception: In some cases, especially when there are no available specialists, or you may not be able to afford care, self-help and guided self-help for bulimia and binge eating disorder may be helpful.)
Don't Put the Needs of Others Above Your Own
Many people prioritize caring for other people above making sure that their own needs are met, sometimes hurting themselves in the process. This can be especially true when you are friends with someone who also has an eating disorder. While you want to help, their stories can be triggering and/or emotionally draining. Make sure that you take care of yourself first and determine how much of yourself you can truly give to others by setting appropriate boundaries.
Don't Believe You Aren't Worth the Cost
Treatment and recovery from an eating disorder can be expensive and time-consuming. Try not to get caught up in thinking that you are not worth the financial commitment that treatment may require. If money is an issue, talk openly with your treatment providers about it. There are often ways to get treatment that is less expensive.
Don't Lose Hope
Eating disorders are serious and sometimes fatal diseases. But they are treatable, and full recovery is possible. When you begin to lose hope, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Work to stay positive and talk to your therapist anytime you find you are struggling emotionally.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Hopefully, you have a wonderful treatment team in place that you can call for help and support, no questions asked. But are you also including your family and friends and giving them a chance to support you in recovery? Asking for help can be a daily process and may require you to ask for specific things (such as support during meals) that they can help you with.
Don't Keep Your Condition a Secret
Keeping secrets about difficult things in your life can lead to feelings of shame and prevent you from asking for support when you need it. Choose people who have earned your trust when it comes to sharing your experience. If they know what's going on, they're more likely to be able to be there for you in ways that will help.
Don't Be Impatient With Recovery
Full recovery can take years and for many, it’s not easy. Many people struggle with slips and relapses as well. Have faith in the recovery process and check in with your treatment team if you aren’t making the progress that you had hoped for.
Do Listen to Your Treatment Team
Your treatment team should be comprised of professionals who have years of training and experience with eating disorders. Listen to them when they recommend specific changes, even when it might seem scary to you. Changes such as adding a medication, adopting a meal plan, or considering a higher level of care can be important and necessary changes to your treatment plan.
Don't Avoid All Situations That Make You Anxious
Recovery from an eating disorder requires facing situations that you may have been avoiding, such as eating certain foods, tolerating feelings of fullness, and tolerating feelings of anxiety when you do not exercise. Work with your treatment team to develop a plan to gradually face these situations.
A Word From Verywell
An eating disorder is a complex mental illness that requires professional care. While there is certainly helpful reading material out there, it can't replace the care of a qualified treatment team. Always consult with your providers before making any changes to your treatment plan.
Eating disorders are very isolative illnesses and they feed off the time and energy put into them. When someone living with an eating disorder trying to keep it to themselves all of their willpower, strength, focus, and overall energy will be dedicated to keeping the illness from others. This is often due to shame or the fear that their “special” thing will be taken from them, at least, that is my personal experience.
The only way to break this negative cycle of self-destructing behaviors and thoughts is to allow yourself to ask for help. Even if it is the last thing you want to do, even when you are terrified of what could happen, even if you are ashamed and don’t want people to know; you must find someone you can trust and let them know you are struggling. It is the first step to breaking free from your eating disorder.
Keeping your eating disorder a secret will keep you in a constant state of worry and distress which will affect not only yourself, but also the people around you.
Your eating disorder isn’t the real you, it’s not even a part of you. It is an illness that saps the energy out of you and keeps you from living. Just imagine if you were hanging from a rooftop everyday where nobody could see you and without having a support system to help and/or catch you. Eventually you’d get tired and lose your grip.
Revealing you have a problem is difficult and oftentimes it causes feelings of shame and fear to arise, but it’s important to remember that these feelings are temporary.
It is brave and courageous to admit and reveal you are struggling to someone you trust. Don’t let yourself hit rock bottom or grind away at trying to get better all by yourself, but allow yourself to reach out for (professional) help, because being vulnerable is one of the keys to setting you free.
Courtesy while you’re thinking what to say. It saves time.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Clever Ways To Hide Your Eating Disorder
First, wear white because everyone knows black is slimming and white, especially in pant and skinny cut skirt form, makes you look fatter. Score one for the Reverse Psychology team.
Second, make sure your dress has a tube attached for hiding the food you don’t eat. This is a perfect example. You can now take a roll, slather it with butter, pretend to bring it up to your mouth, laugh a little too hard at someone’s joke, turn to share your chuckle with your neighbor to fully distract, and slip that roll over your right shoulder and into your dress tube. Repeat. Then, when you have to go to the ladies’ room, simply stand up and all those rolls just brush past your leg and onto the floor where you can just kick them under the table. It’s perfect. It’s like a cornucopia dumptruck.
Third, just keep telling everyone you’re skinny because you just can’t gain weight. It worked for Nicole, right?
(alternate concept: the tube is really just a fart vacuum.)
Other than the FDA approved weight loss pills, herbs and medicines prepared from herbal products also adequately assist you in triggering off weight loss. As you scan the herbal weight loss related pages of the website http://www.weight-loss-truths.com , you would come to known that herbal weight loss is possible through herbal products such as Hoodia, Dandelion, Pyruvate, Aloe Vera et al. However, before opting for herbal weight loss products, it is necessary for you to consult with a herbal practitioner.
I enjoyed this. It’s quite funny. I actually do suffer from an ED, however, and I hope you know that is is a disease! and it hurts me every day. I always wear black though- it’s slimming! even though people tell me I am too skinny. Maybe I will start wearing more white. =) thank you for bringing some humor to the Internet!
this is not funny i suffer from an ED and i find it rude . heres a funny joke. what does my ED and your face have in common? They both remind me of throwing up .
I recently shared deeper my personal story and I received a text from my dad saying, “I am sorry I didn’t see it, I guess I didn’t know how to look.” But the truth is: even if he had wanted to, he couldn’t have seen since I was hiding it so well. We often assume that eating disorder = super skinny girl. And that it is something we can see. Eating disorders go undetected often when the person suffering is too afraid to speak up.
But the truth is that eating disorder can take any form, any gender, body type, skin color, age.
And they are way more common than we often realize.
When I was in my darkest years, people couldn’t know or notice anything. I ate pretty ’normal’ in front of everyone and wasn’t saying anything. It always happened when I was alone at home and could hide it.
I remember going to at least 3 different grocery stores to buy the things I would binge on. So that the cashier wouldn’t judge me for buying so much s***. And I remember this deep feeling of being crazy after every binge. I never felt so lonely in my entire life.
Sometimes speaking up about your eating disorder backfires
Once I tried to share it with a friend, who answered, “you are crazy,” with a judgmental look on his face. I didn’t say anything to anyone after this for years.
But one day I took my courage back and shared it within a safe space. To someone I knew had so much love, kindness and compassion for me that I could say it out loud. That someone was: myself. I said the entire truth to myself, and made the decision to share my story.
I chose to go online to do this. There was something that felt safe somehow online. I knew I could find people going through the same as me, and that they would welcome it and understand me. I felt I could hide behind my screen. And that made it easier for me.
This was the best decision I made in my entire life. I found people who resonated with my story. It took my shame away; it gave me strength to say the full story and to help people to do the same. So that eating disorder is no longer taboo.
Looking to find people who understand? The Courage Club is a safe place to connect as you make solid progress on your recovery. Join the waitlist now!
Speaking up about your eating disorder helps:
- people who are directly experiencing the same things as us
- others around us understand and support us in this process
- us acknowledge that we need help, love, and support, and that it is OK to ask for it
- you take a step further towards recovery
Speaking up can be scary because it makes the eating disorder feel real.
But speaking up also proves to ourselves we do have the strength and courage within ourselves to recover.
I personally will keep sharing over and over, speaking my truth. With to hopes to inspire people who feel the same and to encourage them to share theirs as well. Because together we are stronger. And because people around want to help. Most of all, because love, kindness and compassion were keys for me to recover.
This is a general question about how you managed to get back into a normal way of eating after having fought an eating disorder.
I suffered from anorexia from when I was a preteen of maybe 12 years up to when I was 16, but I started therapy and (after a break inbetween) still have weekly therapy sessions today (I am 20 now). Now I have a healthy weight and there are even phases when I don’t care that much about my weight anymore, but eating has never really stopped being a struggle for me.
What I always did was kind of restricting me in ways other than just eating smaller and smaller portions of food. For example, I submitted myself to „rules“ like „you are only allowed to spend 20€ per week on food“ or „You cannot buy anything that is wrapped in plastic“ and stuff like that. Then I told myself that I only do this to not spend an unnecessary amount of money or to protect the environment but sometimes I also restricted myself on things where there was absolutely no reason for it other than restriction itself.
During the last half year or so I have also become extremely conscious about my own weight again and started a diet to lose a total of 5kg, which is really not much (and would not make me underweight) but the diet has been going on forever now (circa six months) and I have lost between three and four kilogramms (my weight always varies a bit). I tried cooking diet recipies and counting calories and except from one „cheat day“ in the week where I normally visit relatives and am therefore unable to track the calories, I always eat a little less tham I would need to keep my ideal weight and yet I am still not losing any weight or if I do only painfully slowly (like 200 gramms or so per week, so added to the „normal“ ups and downs on the scale it is barely measurable.).
I also bother way too much about food in general and I have also noticed that this puts a strain on the relationship between me and my boyfriend because I talkt o him about all my issues and it’s always a struggle when we want to eat out or after I have eaten a bit more one day.
Also, my calorie deficiency during the diet has been pretty little (maybe 200 calories) because it seems virtually impossible for me to really eat a lot less than what is recommended for my size and weight. Could this be one oft he reasons why I am not really losing any weight? Maybe that my body has just adapted to this small deficiency over the months and now somehow copes with it?
I also spend way more time cooking and in the kitchen than I would actually like to because I always have food on my mind somehow and I really feel like I could do better with my time so if you have any ideas on what I could change, help would be very appreciated :D.
During adolescence, teens are going through a lot both physically and emotionally. Faced with peer pressure, unrealistic beauty standards, and constant exposure to media, eating disorders in teens have become sadly common. In an effort to attain a “perfect” body or some idealized image of themselves, teens may overexercise, stop eating, or develop an unhealthy habit of binge eating. Any of these problematic relationships with food can be considered eating disorders, a prevalent mental health disorder for individuals of any age.
But what do you do if you suspect your teen has an eating disorder? What is the most effective way to help them? Luckily, doctors have developed various treatment plans that can prove effective in treating eating disorders in teens. Here, we’re looking into teen eating disorders to better understand these complex mental health disorders. We review the different types of teen eating disorders and look at the most common (and effective) treatment options.
WHAT IS AN EATING DISORDER?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), eating disorders are defined as behavioral conditions characterized by severe and frequent disturbances to your eating behaviors and the associated thoughts and emotions. Eating disorders transform your relationship with food and can result in unhealthy behaviors such as lack of eating, binge eating, avoidance of certain foods, anxiety with food, compulsive exercise, or purging. Over time, these behaviors can have serious impacts on both your physical and mental health.
3 COMMON EATING DISORDERS
In any instance, an eating disorder is a very personal and unique condition. However, doctors have been able to create three primary categories for eating disorders, which include anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. To see how each eating disorder is unique, here’s a brief description of each one.
Also known as anorexia nervosa, this eating disorder is related to a fear of gaining weight and an intense emphasis on remaining thin. To achieve this, teens may stop eating or only eat very little, leading to a litany of health issues.
Bulimia is characterized by periods of food bingeing. During an episode, a teen will eat a large amount of food (more than they would normally consume) and then throw up, or purge, the food to prevent them from gaining weight. Purging is damaging to the body and also prevents the body from receiving the proper nutrition from the food.
3. Binge-eating disorder.
Related to bulimia, the binge-eating disorder is expressed by episodes of bingeing; however, the key difference here is that they do not then purge the food. This creates an unhealthy relationship with food as the teen may not be able to control themselves while eating. Like other eating disorders, this lack of control may eventually develop into anxiety, social isolation, or even depression.
SYMPTOMS OF EATING DISORDERS IN TEENS
As with anyone, it’s not uncommon for a teen’s appetite or eating patterns to change over time. However, an eating disorder goes beyond a simple change in taste or the occasional lack of appetite. Eating disorders often become chronic and dramatically affect the health (both physical and mental) of your teen by warping their relationship with food.
To help you better understand what to look out for, here are some of the most common symptoms of eating disorders in teens.
· Irregular eating habits (eating too much or too little).
· Dramatic changes in weight and appearance.
· Distorted body image.
· Degradation of hair and nails.
· Excessive energy (especially when related to exercise).
Not every teen will exhibit all of these symptoms. This is why it’s important that you’re able to have an open and honest discussion with them. If you suspect that your teen has an unhealthy relationship with food, speaking to them about it from a place of love and support is an important first step.
HOW TO TREAT TEEN EATING DISORDERS
If you’ve spoken with your teen and you both agree that outside support would be beneficial, there are treatment options for addressing teen eating disorders.
1. Psychological treatment.
Perhaps the most common method of treatment for eating disorders is psychological treatment, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy. This specific type of psychotherapy focuses on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with the eating disorder. This therapy helps teens recognize their unhealthy behaviors and then develop new, healthier behaviors to help them cope.
2. Medication for teen eating disorders.
Medication alone isn’t effective at treating eating disorders; however, in combination with psychotherapy, they may prove effective. Antidepressants are the most common drugs prescribed for treating eating disorders. Because eating disorders are a psychological issue, treating stress, anxiety, or depression may often be critical when addressing the root of the issue. In severe cases, other types of medication may be needed to treat the physical effects of an eating disorder.
3. Residential teen treatment centers.
In some cases, a more comprehensive level of treatment may be needed. Residential teen treatment centers are in-house treatment centers that offer comprehensive care for teens suffering from various mental and behavioral issues. With around-the-clock care and access to top medical professionals, these treatment centers can help your teen understand their issue and develop a healthy coping mechanism to allow them to lead a healthy and happy life.
CONCLUSION – HOW TO TREAT TEEN EATING DISORDERS
It can be frightening to confront the fact that your teen is experiencing an eating disorder. As a parent, you may not feel like you have the information or resources necessary to help your teen. However, regardless of your medical knowledge, you are the most important resource for your teen and their potential to get better. It may be difficult to identify an eating disorder, but if they exhibit one or more of the previously mentioned symptoms, it may be time to have a discussion about their eating habits.
Eating disorders are a common mental health condition for individuals of any age. As such a common disorder that affects many, doctors have developed various treatment options that can help you and your teen confront—and then recover from—this issue.
If you ever ate so much at Thanksgiving that you felt uncomfortable, you know what it feels like to overeat. It’s not unusual to overeat from time to time. Most people do.
But binge eating is different from eating too much during the holidays. People with a binge eating problem regularly eat much more food than most people. They often eat quickly, eat when they are stressed or upset (instead of just when they’re hungry), and feel like they can’t stop eating, even when they’re uncomfortably full. They also binge at least once a week for several months.
As a result, they might feel guilty, ashamed, or bad about themselves after a binge. Many people who binge eat are overweight. But those at a healthy weight can also have a binge eating disorder. Binge eating is different from bulimia, another eating disorder. People with bulimia binge eat, but try to make up for overeating by throwing up, using laxatives, or over-exercising to lose weight.
Binge eating is often a mixed-up way of dealing with or avoiding difficult emotions. Usually, people who binge eat aren’t aware of what’s driving them to overeat. They usually are unhappy about their weight, may have large weight swings, and often feel depressed.
Why Do Some People Binge Eat?
Experts don’t know the exact cause of binge eating disorder. It’s likely a combination of things, including genetics, family eating habits, emotions, and eating behavior, like skipping meals. Some people use food as a way to soothe themselves or to cope with difficult feelings.
People with binge eating disorder are more likely to have other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and ADHD.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?
Someone who’s binge eating might:
- eat a lot of food quickly
- hide food containers or wrappers in their room
- have big changes in their weight (up or down)
- skip meals, eat at unusual times (like late at night), and eat alone
- have a history of eating in response to emotional stress (like family conflict, peer rejection, or school problems)
How Can I Get Help?
It’s hard to know how many people may binge eat. Because people often feel guilty or embarrassed about out-of-control eating, many don’t talk about it or get help.
Because of these feelings, many people don’t get treatment for binge eating until they’re older. But getting help early makes it more likely that a person can get better before it causes health problems related to weight gain.
People with binge disorders are best treated by a team that includes a doctor, dietitian, and therapist. Treatment includes nutrition counseling, medical care, and talk therapy (individual, group, and family therapy). The doctor might prescribe medicine to treat binge eating, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
If you binge eat, these tips can help:
- Don’t skip meals. You are more likely to overeat if you get too hungry.
- Practice mindful eating. Pay attention to what you eat and notice when you feel full.
- Identify triggers. Make a plan for how you can avoid or manage things that trigger bingeing.
- Be active. Regular exercise can feel good and help you manage your weight.
- Find ways to cope with strong feelings. Express yourself through music, art, dance, or writing. Talk to a friend or trusted adult, or try yoga, meditation, or taking a couple of deep breaths to relax.
You may find that it helps to surround yourself with supportive family members and friends. It’s best to avoid people who make negative comments about eating or weight because they can make you feel worse.
Talk to your doctor if you think you may have a binge eating disorder or you are concerned about overeating and your weight.