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
In addition, there are several other eating disorders that are
less common, such as hyperphagia, rumination, pica and a set
disorders not otherwise specified” that are still being researched
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,
eating disorders form up during periods of emotional problems
and in turn they can cause depression, a distorted body image
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
tends to depression, disgust or guilt of having eaten and this
feeling can often drive people to bulimia, hence the close relation
A person suffering from the binge
eating disorder will not be able to exercise control over what,
when and how much he eats
will eat until feeling physically uncomfortable, far beyond
stomach” step. This discomfort, combined with the guilt
of having eaten that much is often a preset for intentional
(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
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
is that it can easily develop into bulimia, especially if
the person suffering from it is in a period of emotional
sure you stop this eating disorder from its roots, as it
can become extremely
dangerous and even life threatening.
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.
methods, used on their own or combined, are extremely damaging
for our health if constantly applied. Intentional purging through
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.
society and urban culture produced a standardized image for
our bodies, which we all tend to work up for, but some take
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
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
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,
3. The patient is psychologically
fixed on attaining a “perfect” body
image and has a constant preoccupation to remaining
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
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
- 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