Eating disorders are a mental illness, no matter how you want to look at them. For those who have no idea about what an eating disorder can do, an eating disorder can and does end a person’s life if it’s not stopped or treated.
About thirty million people suffer from some form of an eating disorder. About ten percent of males and twenty percent of females in college are suffering from an eating disorder.
There are so many myths about this disorder that we want to bring you the facts to help others.
What Are Eating Disorders
An eating disorder is an eating habit that is not normal, and it usually involves physical changes.
Some people eat uncontrollably, while some almost starve themselves. Some eat and eat and then make themselves vomit while others diet and exercise to become excessive.
This disorder does not target one specific type of person or race. It can happen to anyone, male or female, young or old, and any race.
Different Eating Disorders
One disorder that almost everyone has heard of is called Anorexia. When a person mentions an eating disorder, this is usually the first one that comes to mind.
Anorexia is the limiting of food to an extreme. Some people limit themselves to only one food, like just eating celery sticks. While others limit how much food they eat. Most times, it’s to an extreme that they lose too much weight.
Anorexic people are not always skinny th9ugh, that’s just a stereotype. Some people have an eating disorder without having extreme weight loss.
Others will not eat for long periods, and then they binge eat all at one time but then make themselves vomit, purging everything they just ate.
- When someone has a distorted picture of themselves, they see themself as fat when they are skinny.
- Restricting calories
- Scared of gaining weight
- Always monitoring weight
- Linking weight to self-worth or self-esteem
- Being underweight when compared to others of the same height and age
- Most of the time, women suffer from this eating disorder, but men can too.
Bulimia is like Anorexia because it develops primarily in young adults and teenagers, and it is more known in females.
It involves purging to reduce calories in the body. A person can cleanse in several ways, such as too much exercising, enemas, vomiting, and diuretics.
Usually, bulimics will binge-eat (eating a significant amount of food in a noticeably short amount of time) to the point that it becomes painful. Then they will purge to rid themselves of that painful feeling due to overeating.
There is a difference between Anorexia and bulimia. Most anorexics are underweight, while most bulimics will maintain a healthy weight. Anorexics restrict the amount of food they eat, while bulimics don’t limit food intake daily.
- Eating a significant amount of food in a short amount of time
- Lack of control over food and the amount consumed during an episode
- Constant purging after eating too much
- Bulimics usually have a physical appearance that shows due to their behavior. Things like severe dehydration, sore throats, tooth decay, acid reflux, eroded enamel, electrolyte imbalances, intestinal problems, and ulcers
- Most but not all bulimics suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar. They may also suffer from substance abuse, mainly alcoholism.
Diabulimia is described as the underuse of insulin when you have type two diabetes, deliberately controlling weight.
It is also known as “Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type One,” which means that it’s any eating disorder with diabetes. Diabulimia has a severe risk to the person’s health, more so than if you don’t have diabetes.
- Neglecting the management of diabetes
- Secrecy about managing diabetes
- Fearing blood sugar lows
- Anxiety over the body’s image
- They don’t eat with others around
- Speaking of being afraid that insulin will cause them to be fat
- A1C levels of 9 or above
- Always over-concerned ab9ut weight, blood sugar, calories, or food
- Severe food restrictions
- Increased diabetic symptoms
- Increase in sleep/constantly tired
People with diabulimia are at risk for many health issues. Diabulimia often results in kidney disease, retinopathy, liver disease, peripheral neuropathy, coma, stroke, heart disease, and even death. A study taken has shown that the risk of death is three times higher with this eating disorder.
Those with BED (binge eating disorder) have pretty much completely lost control over their eating habits. They will consume huge amounts of food during a single meal. But they usually do not purge, which leads to weight gain and them being overweight.
Almost three percent of people in America suffer from BED during their life. It is one of the more well-known eating disorders here in the U.S.A.
- Eating in secret or alone
- Eating even when you aren’t hungry
- Feeling guilty after you eat
- Eating a lot faster than normal
- Feeling like you aren’t in control of how much you eat
- Eating until you are miserably full
- Eating a significant amount of food in a short amount of time
Usually, a person with a binge eating disorder is obese. Obesity increases someone’s chance of stroke, type two diabetes, and heart issues. At least half of the people with binge eating disorders also suffer from mood or anxiety disorders.
Also known as Orthorexia Nervosa is labeled under EDNOS heading, which means “eating disorder not otherwise specified). Even th9ugh this disorder is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it indeed is becoming more well-known.
The focus on this particular disorder is not on weight. This eating disorder is being obsessed with eating healthy. Those who suffer from this disorder fixate on eating only the foods they believe are healthy or clean.
It usually starts with someone just trying to eat a healthier diet, but this disorder can lead to severe malnutrition.
- They are entirely cutting out several food groups such as meat, sugar, dairy, animal products, or all carbs.
- They are constantly worrying or obsessing about which foods they will eat at their next meal
- Constant concern on whether what they are eating is healthy enough
- Refusing to eat anything except what they have decided is healthy
- Obsessed with checking food labels for to make sure it has healthy ingredients
Orthorexia usually starts innocent enough with just wanting to eat healthier. But when a person begins obsessing with it, that’s a sign of this disorder.
With this eating disorder, where a food already eaten is regurgitated and either spit out or re-swallowed. It usually happens within the first half-hour of the food being consumed.
If this happens in an adult or child, it’s usually severe and needs treatment, but it will often go away on its own when it occurs with an infant. When happening in children, it can steal away the nutrients they need to develop the way they should.
- Voluntary regurgitation not due to a medical reason
- Constant regurgitation
- Bad breath and tooth decay
- Weight loss
- Often having stomach aches
You often find this disorder in adults and children with intellectual disabilities, anxiety, developmental disorders, or stress.
Since there isn’t any accurate information about rumination disorder, it is not known whether it is uncommon or not.
Eating Disorder Causes
Most if not all of these eating disorders will usually occur in young adults or teenagers, but it is not limited to th0se age groups. They can occur at any age. Many people think that eating disorders are caused by dieting or simply vanity. Although in some cases this may be true, it’s not the only reason. Other contributing factors are usually present.
Type One Diabetes: This is a critical factor for eating disorders considering that sixteen percent of males and thirty-eight percent of females having type one diabetes also suffering from an eating disorder of some kind.
Genetics: Yes, eating disorders can and do run in the family. It is estimated that fifty- to eighty percent risk for bulimia or Anorexia is indeed genetic.
Dieting History: Dieting can indeed lead to bulimia binge-eating.
Loss of Control: Food intake may feel to some as if it is the only thing in their life that they can control. Having that need to be able to manage things can lead to eating disorders.
Perfectionism: When someone needs to eat only the foods they consider perfect, this can and usually does lead to each of the disorders we have discussed in this article.
Anxiety or Depression: It is a known fact that several people who suffer from depression develop eating disorders. Around fifty percent of people who have a type of eating disorder also suffer from a mood and/or anxiety disorder.
Body Image: If a person feels like they are overweight, born to the wrong gender, or disproportionate, then this can lead to strict control of food consumption.