Causes, Warning Signs, and How to Get Help - Forbes Health

Causes, Warning Signs, and How to Get Help – Forbes Health

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This article contains content related to eating disorder and eating behavior.

If a friend of yours opens up and shows that she’s been severely restricting her food intake in an effort to lose weight, is this behavior a sign of an eating disorder or an eating disorder? How about a family member who seems obsessed with clean eating and refers to anything with sugar as “toxic”? Eating disorder and eating disorder are two very similar terms, and although they have some commonalities, there are important differences that differentiate them.

Collectively, eating disorders are one of the deadliest mental health conditions, second only to opioid overdose. Furthermore, 9% of the US population will develop an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). Meanwhile, statistics on how many people have an eating disorder are scarcer because behaviors are often undiagnosed or as obvious as those associated with an eating disorder. However, a 2008 survey sponsored by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that up to 6% of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 exhibit disordered eating behaviors.

Eating disorders and an eating disorder can have serious consequences, which is why it is important to know the signs of both, as well as to know who is most at risk. If you or someone you know is engaged in harmful eating habits, help will be available.

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What is an eating disorder?

Melissa Geraghty, Psy.D. explains. A clinical health psychologist who specializes in eating disorders. While these behaviors may be dangerous, they may not meet the diagnostic criteria set for an eating disorder.

An eating disorder is often fueled by focused attention to body shape and weight, says Jamie Long, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders. It may also appear as a way to deal with emotional distress, she adds.

Additionally, these types of behaviors can (but are not always) a precursor to an eating disorder, a diagnosable condition.

Eating Disorders vs. Eating Disorders: What’s the Difference?

Dr. Geraghty and Dr. Long say the main difference between an eating disorder and an eating disorder is that an eating disorder is a mental health condition that can be diagnosed with specific criteria and is more extreme in nature. On the other hand, there are no definitive criteria for diagnosis in disordered eating, and symptoms are often not as extreme. With that said, disordered eating should be taken seriously.

“The severity, degree, number of symptoms, and frequency of symptoms is what distinguishes an eating disorder from an eating disorder,” adds Dr. Geraghty. “Also, in my experience, people who engage in disordered eating typically do not engage in behaviors such as purging, excessive use of laxatives, and exercise excessively even when sick or injured,” she says.

Another hallmark of disordered eating specifically is that often, it can start from a desire to be “healthier” which slowly becomes more solid in nature, explains Dr. Long. An individual who engages in disordered eating behaviors may become obsessed with “clean eating” and use extreme language to describe certain foods, such as “toxic” or “toxic.”

8 types of eating disorders

For some individuals, an eating disorder can eventually turn into a diagnosable eating disorder. according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)There are eight types of eating disorders.

  • Anorexia nervosa: Symptoms include an intense fear of gaining weight, severe food restrictions and/or bingeing and purging.
  • bulimia nervosa: Symptoms include eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, followed by forced vomiting or laxative use.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms include eating quickly and not realizing how much a person is eating or eating when they are not hungry. Unlike bulimia nervosa, this behavior does not follow purging.
  • Food avoidance or restriction disorder: This disorder occurs in the first seven years of life and describes a loss of interest in eating or a strong dislike of certain tastes, smells, colors and textures of food.
  • Becca: A person with this disorder craves non-food items.
  • rumination: A person with this disorder regurgitates food he has previously swallowed, then chews it again and then swallows or spits it out.
  • Other specified feeding and eating disorders They include vomiting disorder, nocturnal eating syndrome, atypical anorexia nervosa, and osteoporosis.
  • Unspecified feeding and eating disorders Includes eating disorder symptoms that do not meet full criteria but cause clinically significant distress.

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Who is most at risk of disordered eating?

An eating disorder can affect anyone of any age and on any body. Dieters, girls and women, boys and men, people of color, LGBTQ people and veterans are all at risk of engaging in disordered eating behavior, according to Dr. Long.

However, the diagnosis and treatment may not seem the same for all people affected by an eating disorder. For example, a 2020 report by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health notes that people of color are half as likely to be diagnosed with or receive treatment for an eating disorder than white people.

Meanwhile, a 2019 study was conducted in Adolescent Health Magazine He found 60% of college students who identified as members of the LGBTQ community reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors.

Dr. Long continues that chronic dieters, regardless of their body size, can be at risk for an eating disorder due to the cultural pressure they may feel to lose weight. “Dieting is detrimental to our health, and as a culture, we need to shift our focus from weight-loss behaviors to health-promoting behaviors,” she says.

Warning signs of an eating disorder

In order to find out if you or someone you care about is engaging in disordered eating behavior, it is important to understand what it looks like. Some common signs of an eating disorder include:

  • Chronic dieting. Dr. Geraghty explains that cliched diets, purging and restricting eating are all forms of chronic dieting.
  • Avoid meals. Similar to the chronic diet, experts say this behavior can be carried out under the guise of being “healthy” when actually done as a way to restrict calories.
  • Body image fixation. Experts say worryingly talking about weight loss or constantly pointing out what you don’t like about your body often goes hand in hand with an eating disorder.
  • Establish strict rules about eating. One example of establishing strict rules is having to exercise for a certain amount of time before or after meals.

Health risks of an eating disorder

An eating disorder can have serious consequences and may put a person at risk for a range of health problems. Some of these health risks include:

  • Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. Long-term food restriction can prevent the body from getting the nutrients it needs to function properly, says Dr. Long.
  • Bone density loss. If a person does not get adequate amounts of essential nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, their bones may become weak and brittle.
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle. An eating disorder can cause some women to have irregular periods.
  • heart problems; Dr. Long points to a 2019 study that linked fluctuations in weight to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (although more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made).
  • Changes in bowel habits. Because the digestive system needs enough fiber to function properly, not getting enough due to restrictive eating practices may lead to changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, says Dr. Geraghty.
  • social isolation. Dr. Geraghty notes that individuals living with disordered eating habits may isolate themselves, particularly around mealtime. pointing to.

Where to seek help with disordered eating

If you have an eating disorder, it is important to seek help. “Look for a therapist who specializes in eating disorders or eating disorders,” advises Dr. Long. For help finding a professional in your area (or someone you can meet virtually), consider contacting the National Eating Disorders Association. By phone, text, or online chat.

Dr. Long adds that it may also be helpful to work with a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders. The role of the dietitian is to ensure that the individual is getting the appropriate nutrients while making changes in behavior. Registered Dietitians and Eating Disorder Specialists EDRDPRO is one useful resource for finding a dietitian with this particular expertise.

The good news is that help with disordered eating is readily available if asked, and you won’t be alone on your journey toward mental and physical wellness.

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