Though people often think of eating disorders as a “skinny person epidemic,” eating disorders can plague individuals of any body size, and can truly be described as an unhealthy way of relating to food. For them, food is used to deal with different overwhelming emotions they are experiencing.
Eating disorders and body image struggles are fairly common among teens, but can be a real struggle for individuals of any age.
Below are listed a few general descriptions of the most common eating disorders.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder where a person’s image of her/himself is that they are overweight, even when they are actually dangerously underweight. People with anorexia are typically obsessed with their weight, weighing themselves frequently, severely limiting their food intake, and are obsessed with exercising to work off the few calories they did intake. Anorexia not only has dangerous long term effects associated with starvation but, among women, the suicide rate is higher than those who suffer from other mental illnesses.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by frequent, recurrent episodes of over-consuming food, and then purging, whether by vomiting, laxatives, enemas, fasting, over-exercising, etc. The consumption of these massive amounts of food is often done in secret or hiding, and is characterized by a feeling of lack of control or ability to stop eating. Though the obsession with weight is similar with that of anorexia, those who are bulimic generally maintain a relatively healthy or normal weight.
Binge Eating Disorder is when a person frequently loses control of how much he or she eats, consuming far more calories than healthy. Such a person often eats when already full, or eats to the point of discomfort. The over-consumption is often done privately or secretly, so as to avoid feeling ashamed or embarrassed. The binge eating is not followed by purging, so people with binge eating disorder are often characterized by being overweight or obese. This is actually the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling to relate to food in a healthy way, please call New Horizon’s today. We have trained counselors on staff ready to join you in your journey to healing.