Eating disorders are serious illnesses that can lead to long-term health problems and even death. They involve an extreme focus on food and weight and can make it hard to concentrate on other things in life. People with eating disorders often try to hide their unhealthy behaviors, which makes it difficult for family and friends to know what’s going on. But if you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek help.
Binge eating disorder: People with this condition eat large amounts of food that are out of control. They may feel unable to stop eating and feel numb as if their emotions are blocked. They may have episodes of binge eating and then try to get rid of the food they ate by throwing up, using laxatives or exercising excessively. People with this disorder are usually close to a normal weight, but their weight can go up and down.
Anorexia nervosa: People with anorexia restrict calories, leading to weight loss that’s below the recommended amount for their age, sex and stage of development. They often feel they can’t get enough nutrients and think they’ll be fat if they eat more. They also have a strong desire to be thin and believe they’ll be happier and more successful if they are thin. People with this disorder are often good students and are involved in a lot of school or community activities. They tend to blame themselves if they don’t get perfect grades or are not doing well in other areas of their lives.
Bulimia nervosa: People with bulimia alternate between dieting and binge eating. They consume a small amount of low-calorie, “safe” foods and large amounts of high-calorie, “forbidden” foods. They may have a feeling of losing control while eating and feel guilty afterwards. They may also use laxatives or diet pills to try to control their weight.
Other types of eating disorders:
Rumination disorder: People with this condition regurgitate or bring up food they have already swallowed. They may do this after each meal or at other times as well. They may feel they need to chew their food more thoroughly before they swallow it. They may also be irritable or agitated after meals.
People who eat more than their body needs to maintain a healthy weight often feel bloated, tired or sluggish. Overeating causes the stomach to expand beyond its normal capacity, which can cause a person to feel uncomfortable as the contents of the expanded stomach are pushed against other organs. It can also take longer for the stomach to digest large meals, which may lead to a slowed digestive process and the accumulation of excess fat.
Eating too much can also affect a person’s heart health, increase their risk of osteoporosis and cause other serious medical conditions. It is important to eat regular meals and snacks, avoid distractions while eating and eat in a calm environment. Eating disorders can develop from any type of trauma or stress, but they are most commonly caused by a person trying to cope with overwhelming feelings or painful emotions. They can also be caused by changes in brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite, mood and impulse control.