Binge eating and eating disorder
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Do you have eating disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa, or simply anorexia as it is popularly known of, shares the psychological causes that trigger other similar eating disorders, such as bulimia, binge eating and so forth. Similarly to these eating disorders, anorexia is characterized through an extensive psychological body image distortion and excessive weight loss. The modality in which this weight is lost is different than bulimia, where intentional purging through vomiting, laxatives, enemas or other similar methods causes the weight loss. With anorexia, the individual suffering from it wants to achieve “perfect body proportions and weight” through voluntary starvation, excessive exercise, diet pills and unbalanced diets.

Anorexia is probably the most common eating disorder, even more common than bulimia. It is a relatively new condition, since it is considered the “product” of modern society, where individuals are fed a constant stream of visual information on how the “perfect body” should look like and try to attain that goal. Anorexia pops in where we lose track of a balanced way to obtain this body proportions and image and do everything excessively: excessive exercising, excessive dieting and so forth.

All these unhealthy habits leave a deep scar in one’s overall health and in severe cases, anorexia can be life threatening. The digestive system (especially the esophagus and stomach), the cardiovascular system (some functions of the heart), muscular tissues and the immune system are all affected by anorexia, each having its own subset of damaging consequences. Besides these, anorexia also affects our hormonal levels, deranging them, disturbs electrolyte balance and generally hinders the body from getting the required amounts of vitamins and minerals.

The condition comes in several levels of graveness, but a patient will be diagnosed with a complete case of anorexia if he or she displays the following patterns:

refuses to maintain a normal body weight for his or her age, height and constitution
an emotional and psychologically-driven fear of becoming fat (even though the patient may look of average weight) and gaining extra weight
denial of the gravity and seriousness of the current low body weight experienced by the patient
repeated periods of voluntary starvation, excessive exercise or any of the forms in which anorexia may appear

Even though a patient doesn’t particularly display all the above-mentioned factors at the same time, or he displays them at lower intensities, this does not mean that he has fully avoided anorexia. Studies show that almost half of today’s teenagers and young men and women ages 20-30 have experienced at least a mild form of anorexia in an emotional drop-down regarding their looks.

This eating disorder is still dominant in women, but more and more men tend to give more importance to their looks and tend to develop softer forms of anorexia. The fact that men are considered less emotional than women may also be a factor in the imbalanced proportion between sexes in this particular eating disorder’s case.

Regardless of your gender however, if you find yourself having a distorted body image, if you tend to evaluate everything revolving around you based on your body shape and weight and if you find yourself practicing one of the above-mentioned weight loss methods, you might be suffering from a hatching form of anorexia that needs to be treated at once.

Compulsive Overeating
Compulsive overeating is an eating disorder than can easily be characterized by an “addiction to food”. Just like with any other addiction, the person suffering from compulsive overeating will have a constant craving for food and he will consume a lot more than he requires because of this.

A lot of people tend to confuse compulsive overeating with binge eating, which is a similar, but graver eating disorder. Binge eating is also characterized by uncontrollable feats of overeating, but the main difference is that binge eating is much more emotionally and psychologically dependant than compulsive overeating.

For example, a person with compulsive overeating may feel joyful after a meal, satisfied of the quality of the food, although he knows he exaggerated with the amount he ate. Persons suffering from binge eating on the other hand, will eat as uncontrollably and as much as the ones suffering from compulsive overeating, but they will feel an additional sense of guild, depression and disgust towards their own persona due to the fact that they could not control themselves and of the thought that the last particular meal will have grave affects on their body image (although one meal won’t really make that much difference, but in their depressive state binge eaters tend to exaggerate on the effects).

Because it lacks these depressive periods, compulsive overeating is considered less dangerous than binge eating, since it has a reduced chance of turning into bulimia. However, compulsive eating can easily turn into the binge eating disorder if its effects on body weight and shape will have an impact on the individual’s emotional and psychological status.

The causes for compulsive overeating can be similar to those of binge eating, namely of emotional nature (most addictions are emotional or psychological in nature actually). Just like smoking, it’s oftentimes not the body that craves the cigarette, but the mind. The case of compulsive overeating is similar. Some sufferers of this eating disorder use food as a self-medication to get over their daily problems and this habit quickly turns into an addiction.

On other occasions, a person that has been emotionally abused (someone who has recently experienced a harsh breakup with his or her spouse for example) will overeat with the sole purpose of getting fatter, making them less attractive thus less likely to be abused on another occasion. The last category of compulsive overeating sufferers includes people that are extremely skinny (either because of their natural structure or because of a secondary condition they are suffering from) and are ashamed of how THIN they are. In their urge to get to an average weight, they overeat and turn it into an addiction.

The fact that compulsive overeating can hardly be separated from binge eating at times makes it even harder for medics to diagnose one of these eating disorders with 100% efficiency. Regardless, both conditions need to be treated as soon as the first signs appear, since they can lead to serious damage to one’s body and can also be the springboard for some graver eating disorders such as bulimia.

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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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