Disordered eating (ED) refers to a broad range of behaviors that are associated with an obsession with food and body weight. The symptoms of these behaviors can have severe effects on mental and physical health, including decreased bone density, decreased metabolic rate, and increased risk for heart failure. These illnesses can affect individuals of all ages, but their effects can be especially severe in the young.
Eating disorders can be diagnosed through a series of criteria. There are several types, ranging from binge eating disorder to avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. However, the most common disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. They can manifest as a number of different behaviors, such as compulsive exercise, fasting, and self-induced vomiting.
The symptoms of disordered eating are usually characterized by an intense preoccupation with food and body weight, with an emphasis on eating. It may also result in an anxiety about the consequences of eating. This preoccupation can be particularly extreme in people who have a tendency to overeat. Symptoms include feeling extremely deprived of the ability to eat, having an uncontrollable urge to eat, and eating excessive amounts of food in a short amount of time.
There are several causes of disordered eating, including biological factors such as a genetically-determined predisposition to eating disorders and an aversion to certain foods. In some cases, the disorder may be triggered by an event in the person’s life, such as a death in the family. Others can develop without any apparent cause. Often, symptoms of disordered eating develop in young women. People of color are also more likely to develop disordered eating than white people. Other factors that can increase the chances of developing disordered eating are an unsatisfactory family history of illness, a family history of substance abuse, and low income.
ED can be a highly distressing condition, but it is not a choice. Treatment is available and recovery can be achieved in as little as months. To learn more about treatment options for your specific disorder, speak to your physician. Your loved ones can also help you. By seeking help, you can recover from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders. Getting the right care for your disorder can improve your psychological and physical well-being.
ED can affect a person’s ability to function at work, in relationships, or in social situations. Eating disorders can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones, sex hormones, and endocrine system functions. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, and allergic reactions. An individual with an eating disorder can lose significant amounts of weight quickly. Moreover, there is a higher risk for medical complications, such as heart failure, after a person has rapidly lost large amounts of weight.
Women are more likely than men to develop anorexia nervosa, and they are more likely to suffer from bulimia nervosa. Males are more likely to develop muscle dysmorphia, a type of eating disorder that is characterized by an obsession with appearance.