Many people struggle with their weight, but for most of us it is not a big deal. We admire those who are very thin or very overweight, but we do not look at them as much as we might think.
For example, when you go to the beach there will be lots of people that look through expensive surf boards or tanning equipment to show off how sun-kissed they are. Others will admire their beautiful shapely figure.
However, some people take this desire to be admired more than normal limits. Some will even spend money to reach their goal state. This can become excessive and annoying to watch around you.
There are different types of eating disorders. Some only worry about how little food they eat while trying to lose weight, which is called Anorexia Nervosa. Others may feel uncomfortable in your average sized clothing store so they buy size small clothes or large ones depending on what body type they want to have.
This is called Body Dysmorphic Syndrome. And finally someone may just try to achieve perfection by being lean and toned all the time which is referred to as Overweight Obsession.
All of these conditions are serious mental health issues that need professional help. Having dieting or fitness habits is okay, but if you know something isn’t right then talk to someone.
Many people feel that it is wrong to describe yourself as having an eating disorder when you eat more than normal during specific times of the day or for longer periods of time, but this perception can be confusing.
Some experts believe that there are actually two separate disorders called “binge eating” and “eating disorder.” People who suffer from binge eating don’t necessarily have the same symptoms as someone with eating disorder, which includes fear/distress about weight loss, feelings of self-loathing due to body image issues, and sometimes harmful behaviors like laxative abuse or excessive exercise.
However, both conditions share common features such as anxiety or worry about food, problems limiting intake to certain foods, and emotional eating (eating in response to emotions). It’s important to recognize that while most people do not have an eating disorder, almost everyone experiences some level of hunger and eating is influenced by psychological factors as well as physical reasons.
Another term for eating disorder is “overeating-related condition” or OREC, which can sometimes be difficult to tell apart from someone with regular weight issues.
This term was made in reference to people who eat too much of certain foods – not because they like them, but due to their perceived health benefits. People with this type of eating pattern are typically very conscious of how many calories they consume, and thus may use food as a way to feel happier or more confident.
However, there are some slight differences between those with OREC and individuals with full-on diagnoses of binge eating disorder (BED) or compulsive dieting.
First, people with OREC usually eat less variety of foods than individuals with BED, since they seem to enjoy most foods equally. Also, while someone with BED will often purge by taking laxatives or using vomiting or diuretic drugs, people with OREC don’t necessarily go through any kind of purging.
Overall, however, both types of patients suffer from excessive concern about food and weight — which makes it hard to connect with other people, take breaks from nutrition, and lead a normal life. This can have long-term effects on your mental health and overall happiness.
Mood disorders and eating disorders
Having an eating disorder is more than just thinking about food too much or feeling hungry all the time, it is also having an obsession or desire to spend lots of time doing exercise, dieting, or both to try and achieve what we refer to as “normal” body weight.
This might seem normal to you but could actually be hurting yourself longer term. You see, when people with eating disorders engage in excessive dieting and/or exercise they are moving away from their healthy body weight which can have negative health effects for them.
Research shows that those who suffer from eating disorders are at least twice as likely to die within five years as individuals without such conditions. This risk rises even higher if the individual has attempted suicide.
Furthermore, research indicates that someone suffering from anorexia nervosa is around eight times likelier to attempt suicide than individuals without this condition.
Recognize the symptoms of an eating disorder
Although there is no formal diagnosis for people with diet or weight issues, you may be experiencing symptoms that could indicate an eating disorder. You are not suffering from an eating disorder if you feel hungry sometimes, try to eat as many foods as possible, and enjoy cooking and baking.
Having diet restrictions and worries about body shape are common signs of an eating disorder. But it goes beyond that. Some individuals develop very specific diets that they believe will help them lose weight, which can often look like an eating disorder symptom.
Certain behaviors such as purging (self-induced vomiting or laxatives) or excessive exercise are also symptomatic of disordered eating. Purging is when someone engages in self-harming practices to lose weight. For example, someone who has trouble accepting their body might starve themselves, but more likely than not would use vomiting or other means to get rid of all of the food they have consumed.
Treatment for eating disorders
Finding help for your eating disorder is important, but only you can determine if this is needed and wanted. You do not have to suffer alone with this disease!
Many health professionals agree that professional help is necessary when someone experiences symptoms of an eating disorder. This may be general doctor or mental health practitioner, or both depending on what kind of eating disorder is being experienced.
This could include a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, dietician, nutritionist or other trained professionals that can help you learn about your eating habits and how to change them.
Treatment will vary person to person, but usually includes nutritional counseling, weight loss programs (dietary supplements and/or physical activities), and psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy can be individual, group or both for example: cognitive behavioral therapy (for binge eating or purging) or dialectical behavior therapy (to treat underlying personality traits like anxiety or depression).
There are also self-help groups available where people with similar issues can meet and discuss their coping strategies and treatments they used.
What to do if you are an ally to an eating disorder
Sometimes, people become allies to eating disorders by doing things like making excuses for or even helping prevent self-starvation or excessive exercise.
People may help promote unhealthy diets by suggesting low calorie foods or food groups that are not healthy to include. They may suggest limiting your intake of certain nutrients or calories to keep you within your budget.
Alternatively, they may encourage frequent exercises or workouts which can then be hard to stop once you have started moving regularly.
Some individuals who suffer from eating disorders feel obligated towards you because they perceive you as friendly or supportive. This can make it harder to get help for yourself or others.
Tips for eating healthy
Changing your diet is always a good start to improving your overall health, but it can be hard when you’re not sure what foods are allowed or forbidden.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear picture of what makes a smart choice of food.
It is also important to know about nutritional value so that you understand how much nutrition different foods contain.
By having enough nutrients in your body, you give your organs, muscles, and skin the necessary materials they need to function properly.
This helps keep you feeling strong and energetic. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue, dry hair, and dark under-eye circles.
Exercise is important
While it’s not necessary to be overweight or eat too much food to have an eating disorder, exercise can sometimes play a role in your disease. If you feel hungry before meals, then avoiding the practice of exercising right before meal times could contribute to feeling even more hunger.
If you find yourself wanting to diet while you are trying to lose weight, limiting daily activity may make that effort harder. On the other hand, if you’re normally a very active person, you might need to ease off for a bit to allow your body to relax and let go.
Weighing out whether or not this applies to you is really up to you. It may help to recognize that having an eating disorder isn’t necessarily a “healthier” thing to do, and that there’s no way to know what feelings of deprivation and desire you should expect to encounter until you actively work towards changing them.