February Awareness

Hungry for Change: National Eating Disorder Awareness

Eating disorders awareness week is an international awareness event that was created to fight the myths and misunderstandings that surround anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, avoidance/restrictive food intake, and other unspecified eating disorders. Its estimated that at least 30 million Americans have an eating disorder, and only 1 in 10 received treatment. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.  A study was completed that found 35% of adults could not identify signs or symptoms of an eating disorder. In order to help a loved one, you have to know what to look for.

Signs and symptoms of eating disorders include: considerably underweight compared with people of similar age and height, very restricted eating patterns, an intense fear of gaining weight or persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight, a heavy influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem, a distorted body image, recurrent episodes of binge eating, eating large amounts of foods rapidly, feeling a lack of control, calorie restriction, frequent vomiting, excessive exercise, and avoidance or restriction of food intake that prevents the person from eating sufficient calories or nutrients

Main Types of eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa: is characterized by the refusal to eat. It can affect anyone of any gender or age but disproportionately affects young women in their late teens and early twenties.

Bulimia Nervosa: is characterized by cyclical bingeing and purging episodes. Bingeing is defined as the consumption of more food than most other people would eat in a similar circumstance over a discrete period of time accompanied by a sense of lack of control over the food consumption.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating that occur twice weekly or more for a period of at least six months. During bingeing, a larger than normal amount of food is consumed in a short time frame and the person engaging in the bingeing behavior feels a lack of control over the eating.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake: previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder”, is similar to anorexia in that both disorders involve limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.

Eating Disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS): can experience the same negative psychological, social, and physical consequences as a person diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia. The seriousness of their condition is no different than that for people diagnosed with specific disorders. The only difference is that the person may experience a spectrum of disordered eating behaviors and these behaviors may change over time.

Eating disorders are mental health conditions that usually require treatment. They can also be damaging to the body if left untreated. If you have an eating disorder or know someone that might have one, seek help from a healthcare practitioner that specializes in eating disorders.