About Eating Disorders

An eating disorder generally refers to an unhealthy relationship with food and weight that affects and interferes with many areas of a person’s life. The individual becomes preoccupied and obsessed with food, their body and their weight. This obsession includes self-critical thoughts and a negative self-image. 

One’s thoughts become preoccupied with food, weight or exercise. A person who struggles with an eating disorder can have unrealistic self-critical thoughts about body image, and his or her eating habits may begin to disrupt normal body functions and affect daily activities. Eating disorders are not just about food and weight. People begin to use food as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions or to help them feel more in control when feelings or situations seem over-whelming. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) recognizes Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder).

Anorexia Nervosa

A person with anorexia may have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. Someone with anorexia may practice unhealthy behaviors such as: restricting calories, only eating specific foods or skipping meals frequently.

Bulimia Nervosa

A person with bulimia may also be intensely afraid of becoming fat or gaining weight. Someone with bulimia may eat large amounts of food in a short period of time (binge) and then eliminate the food and calories (purge). One may induce vomiting, exercise excessively, or use laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills to purge weight or calories.

Binge Eating Disorder

This disorder involves eating very large amounts of food rapidly (to the point of feeling sick or uncomfortable). These episodes of bingeing occur frequently. When binge eating, a person feels like they cannot stop eating or control what or how much is eaten.

EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)  

This refers to an unhealthy relationship with food/weight that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.