Binge eating and eating disorder
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Do you have eating disorders?

Eating Disorder FAQ
Most persons suffering from an eating disorder will hide this fact even from their closest friends and family, so there aren't a lot of informational points they can turn to. They will probably surf the Internet for information on their condition rather than talk about it with someone, especially a doctor.

The Internet however is oftentimes a big pool of content where we have a rough time extracting useful information, reason for which I have prepared this Eating Disorder FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to help out pointing the main issues regarding these conditions. Hopefully, you’ll find this set of questions and answers useful in finding out whether you, your friends or your family members might be suffering from an eating disorder.

Q: What is an eating disorder?
A: An eating disorder is a process driven by a psychiatric condition where the sufferer engages in unhealthy eating (either overeating or undereating) that can be dangerous to physical or mental health.

Q: What are the most common types of eating disorders?
A: There are four main eating disorders common in modern society, namely anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and compulsory eating. Some of these eating disorders derive from one another. For example, compulsory eating may lead to binge eating, which in turn can cause bulimia. In addition, there are several other eating disorders that are less common, such as hyperphagia, rumination, pica and a set of “eating disorders not otherwise specified” that are still being researched upon.

Q: How can I find out if I’m suffering from an eating disorder?
A: Although each condition has its specific symptoms, there are a few that are common to all of them to some extent. For example, most eating disorders form up during periods of emotional problems and in turn they can cause depression, a distorted body image or low self esteem. On a physical level, eating disorders have a radical effect on the body of the patient, some driving the body to become overweight, others to become underweight.

Q: What are the specific symptoms of Anorexia?
A: Anorexia patients are obsessed with gaining a “perfect body” and they are never satisfied with how thin they are. To achieve this goal, they will undergo severe methods such as extreme exercising or extreme (voluntary) starvation.

Q: What are the specific symptoms of Bulimia?
A: Most bulimia patients also suffer from binge eating, where they uncontrollably overeat at meals, followed by periods of guild and depression. This guilt drives them to perform intentional purging through vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretics, enemas and other similar methods that can have extremely negative effects on the digestive system and the entire body.

Q: How are eating disorders treated?
A: Most eating disorder cases need to be treated on two fronts: an emotional and a nutritional one. On an emotional level, treatment includes psychiatric support (which can be coped with anti-depressant medication) whereas on a nutritional level patients are given strict diets to balance out their condition.

Q: What should I do if I notice my friend is suffering from an eating disorder?
A: Try to convince him to visit a doctor and if this is not possible, announce his family of what you noticed so that they can convince him in turn. It’s extremely important that eating disorders are treated, since they can become lethal if left to develop.

The Binge Eating Disorder
Although the term of “binge eating” is usually referred to when talking about other eating disorders such as bulimia, it actually stands as an eating disorder of its own.

Despite this fact, it is usually considered a milder form of bulimia, or a springboard towards this more complex eating disorder. The scientific world is split in half over this subject, as many doctors and psychologists tend to consider binge eating as a separate eating disorder, whereas the other half ties it to bulimia with a tight knot. But before going any further on the subject, let’s see how binge eating manifests itself and what its causes are.

Binge eating can roughly translate to “an excessive need to overeat”, but it is much more than that. Binge eating is a psychological problem, but it is usually simply the result of a deeper, more complex psychological or emotional problem. Persons that are depressed and “drown” their problems in food may very well suffer from a form of binge eating, especially if they overeat at each meal.

Although binge eating is quite similar to compulsive eating in consequences, the two eating disorders are very much different. Whereas with compulsive eating, the patient will spend a great deal of his time fantasizing about food and overeat on the first occasion, binge eating sufferers crave for food not because they “need it”, but as a form of soothing their depressions. A person with compulsive eating may not always feel ashamed or depressed after a meal where he has overeaten, even though he knows it was not right. Even more so, he might feel satisfied of the meal and find a way to justify the fact that he ate that much. With binge eating on the other hand, overeating always tends to depression, disgust or guilt of having eaten and this feeling can often drive people to bulimia, hence the close relation between the two.

A person suffering from the binge eating disorder will not be able to exercise control over what, when and how much he eats and he will eat until feeling physically uncomfortable, far beyond the “full stomach” step. This discomfort, combined with the guilt of having eaten that much is often a preset for intentional purging (a key element in bulimia). Some of the other symptoms that a patient may display include the fact that he always eats alone, because he feels embarrassed about eating (and about how much he eats), eats quickly without chewing, hides the fact that he eats this much from the others (this includes waking up in the middle of the night for a sneak meal).

Binge eating is damaging enough on its own, because it can create severe weight problems which can lead to further cardiovascular, muscular or digestive issues. But the biggest risk of binge eating is that it can easily develop into bulimia, especially if the person suffering from it is in a period of emotional instability. Make sure you stop this eating disorder from its roots, as it can become extremely dangerous and even life threatening.

Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa, or simply bulimia as it is commonly referred to is an eating disorder caused by a combination of psychological and natural factors. It is one of the most widely spread eating disorders of today and if left untreated, after a period of time it can become extremely dangerous to one’s health, in severe cases leading to death. Let’s take a look at what bulimia nervosa is all about, how it can be treated and how we can avoid falling in its traps.

First of all, let’s explain the eating disorder in detail. Bulimia is a psychological condition that manifests itself through abrupt eating habits such as constant overeating, followed by intentional purging. At times, a person suffering from bulimia will feel a constant and uncontrollable need for excessive eating, a factor which is usually linked to another eating disorder, namely binge eating.

After these episodes of binge eating, or even after normal meals, the individual performs intentional purging through one of the following methods: vomiting, laxatives, enemas, fasting or diuretics. All these methods, used on their own or combined, are extremely damaging for our health if constantly applied. Intentional purging through vomiting for example will build up acid levels in the stomach and esophagus, causing derangements of the digestive system and also localized damage to its organs.

A lot of people suffer from milder forms of bulimia, the causes for the eating disorder being psychological and social in nature. Modern society and urban culture produced a standardized image for our bodies, which we all tend to work up for, but some take this goal to an extreme level. This psychological addiction to “get fit” is the main cause for bulimia and a lot of people tend to overlook the fact that the eating disorder’s practices are more damaging to our interior than they are beneficial to our exterior.

Usually, in order to be diagnosed with bulimia you have to meet a set of six criteria, which are the following:

1. A patient feels an uncontrollable need to eat and he consumes larger amounts of food than he would need at a meal.

2. The patient uses intentional purging methods such as the ones described above (vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas and so forth)

3. The patient is psychologically fixed on attaining a “perfect” body image and has a constant preoccupation to remaining thin

4. The patient does not suffer from anorexia nervosa (the two eating disorders can coexist however)

5. The patient is of normal weight or overweight.

6. The patient has urges to binge, overeat and intentionally purge the food at least twice per week for at least four months.

As an example on how damaging bulimia can become to our bodies, here’s a short list of the conditions and consequences it can produce:

- causes malnutrition
- causes dehydration
- hinders the body from obtaining the required amount of vitamins and minerals from food
- causes teeth erosion, increases the amount of cavities and may cause gum diseases
- may encourage the growth of peptic ulcers and cause pancreatitis
- swelling of the face (due to vomiting)
- muscle atrophy
- hypertension
- hormonal imbalance

… and many more. As you can clearly see, bulimia is not something to play with. If you think you’re suffering from this eating disorder or if you know someone that does, take into consideration that the sooner you start the treatment, the easier it will be to cure the disorder.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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