Types Of Eating Disorders: When a relationship with food becomes unhealthy, how do you know the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating? Where can the line be drawn between an eating disorder and disordered thinking? Is there a difference, and are they both problems when symptoms are present in an individual’s life?
Most people are familiar with eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are the two most common, but overeating is also a very real problem for millions of people.
What Is Anorexia?
Anorexia is categorized as an unhealthy relationship with food in which someone restricts the amount of food, and sometimes the types of food, he or she eats. Excessive exercise may accompany the food restriction, along with the use of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas to maintain certain body weight.
According to The Mayo Clinic, symptoms of anorexia that you can use to determine if someone is struggling with the disorder include:
- Skipping meals
- Making excuses for not eating
- Denial of hunger
- Eating only a few certain “safe” foods, usually those low in fat and calories
- Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
- Cooking elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat
- Repeated weighing of themselves
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
- Complaining about being fat
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Afraid of gaining weight
- Lying about how much food has been eaten
- Excessive exercise
- Flat mood (lack of emotion)
- Social withdrawal
- Preoccupation with food
- Reduced interest in sex
- Depressed mood
- Possible use of laxatives, diet aids or herbal products
What Is Bulimia?
Bulimia is also categorized as an unhealthy relationship with food and body image, but those suffering from this eating disorder tend to binge (eat a lot of food, more than what is necessary for their body weight) then purge (throw up all of the food that was just consumed.)
The Mayo Clinic suggests identification of bulimia with the following criteria:
- Constantly worrying or complaining about being fat
- Having a distorted, excessively negative body image
- Repeatedly eating unusually large quantities of food in one sitting, especially high-fat or sweet foods
- Not wanting to eat in public or in front of others
- Going to the bathroom right after eating or during meals
- Exercising too much
- Having sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
- Having damaged teeth and gums
- Being preoccupied with your body shape and weight
- Living in fear of gaining weight
- Feeling that you can’t control your eating behavior
- Eating until the point of discomfort or pain
- Eating much more food in a binge episode than in a normal meal or snack
- Forcing yourself to vomit or exercise too much
- Misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating
- Using dietary supplements or herbal products for weight loss
What Is Disordered Eating?
Disordered eating is defined differently. It is said to be patterns of eating that can hurt you in some way, either physically or psychologically. The drive behind unhealthy, or disordered, eating behaviors is a desire to be certain body weight, a way to be in control of your own weight, or an attempt to manage emotions.
A traumatic event or stressful time in someone’s life can cause temporary stints of disordered eating, but when disordered eating becomes regular and patterns can be identified, it can lead to an actual, diagnosable eating disorder.
The Brigham Young University Women’s Service and Resources Department lists the following as behaviors associated with disordered eating:
- A very strong fear of gaining 5 pounds
- Following strict food rules
- Dieting for more than three-quarters of your life
- Use of diet pills or laxatives
- Fasting or juice cleanses to lose weight
- Over exercising
- Cutting entire food groups from your diet, except for religious reasons
- Eating the same “safe” foods every day
- Extreme calorie restriction
- Thinking about food more than 50 percent of the time
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Intentionally skipping meals to lose weight
- Bingeing or vomiting
- Smoking for weight loss
- Lying about how much you’ve eaten
- Weighing yourself daily, if it becomes obsessive.
- Consistently overeating when you’re not hungry
- Eating a lot of no- or low-calorie foods
- Having concerns about your eating or weight that interfere with your life
- Considering foods to be good or bad
- Visiting pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia websites
- Adopting a vegetarian diet solely for weight loss
So, how do you know the difference between an eating disorder and disordered thinking? If the lists do not allow you to differentiate, consult a professional to determine where you, or someone you know, falls off the spectrum because either way, an unhealthy relationship with food requires attention and treatment.
Jared Friedman is the quality improvement manager at Sovereign Health Group, learn more about his work by reading his blog entries at http://www.sovcal.com/sovblog/. Hope you love reading “The Different Types Of Eating Disorders”. Share your view in the comment section below.