What are Eating Disorders? • Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. • They are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.
Anorexia Nervosa • Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. • Symptoms include: • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level. • Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”. • Feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss. • Loss of menstrual periods. • Extreme concern with body weight and shape. • In addition to restricting calories, people with anorexia may also control their weight with exercise, diet pills, or purging.
Bulimia Nervosa • Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. • Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food--more than most people would eat in one meal--in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse, or over-exercising. • Symptoms include: • Repeated episodes of bingeing and purging. • Feeling out of control during a binge and eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness . • Purging after a binge, (typically by self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diet pills and/or diuretics, excessive exercise, or fasting). • Frequent dieting. • Extreme concern with body weight and shape.
Binge Eating Disorder • Also referred to as Compulsive Overeating. • Binge Eating Disorder is characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. • While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge. • People who overeat compulsively may struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, which can contribute to their unhealthy episodes of binge eating. • Body weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate, or severe obesity. • Despite feelings of guilt and shame over these secret binges, they feel unable to control their behavior or stop eating even when uncomfortably full.
Common Warning Signs • Preoccupation with body or weight • Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition • Constant dieting, even when thin • Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain • Taking laxatives or diet pills • Compulsive exercising • Making excuses to get out of eating • Avoiding social situations that involve food • Going to the bathroom right after meals • Eating alone, at night, or in secret • Hoarding high-calorie food
Myth # 1 You have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.
False People with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Many individuals with eating disorders are of average weight or are overweight.
Myth # 2 Only teenage girls and young women are affected by eating disorders.
False While eating disorders are most common in young women in their teens and early twenties, they are found in men and women of all ages.
Myth # 3 People with eating disorders are vain.
False It’s not vanity that drives people with eating disorders to follow extreme diets and obsess over their bodies, but rather an attempt to deal with feelings of shame, anxiety, and powerlessness.
Myth # 4 Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.
False All eating disorders can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.
Tips for Talking about an Eating Disorder • Communicate your concerns. Share your memories of specific times when you felt concerned about the person’s eating or exercise behaviors. Explain that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention. • Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills. If the person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned, restate your feelings and the reasons for them and leave yourself open and available as a supportive listener. • Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on the person regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.” • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, "If you'd just stop, then everything would be fine!"
Don’t give up if the person shuts you out at first or reacts in anger or denial. The eating disorder is your loved one’s way of dealing with emotions that are too painful to face directly. It may take some time before your friend or family member is even willing to admit to having a problem. Lecturing, getting upset, or issuing ultimatums won’t help the situation. Instead, make it clear that you care about the person’s health and happiness and you’ll continue to be there for him or her.
Treatments for eating disorders • There are many treatment options for eating disorders. The right approach for each individual depends on his or her specific symptoms, issues, and strengths, as well as the severity of the disorder. To be most effective, treatment for an eating disorder must address both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem. The goal is to treat any medical or nutritional needs, promote a healthy relationship with food, and teach constructive ways to cope with life and its challenges. • Often, a combination of therapy, nutritional counseling, and group support works best. In some cases, residential treatment or hospitalization may be necessary.
Specific Treatments • Psychotherapy – Individual and group therapy can help your loved one explore the issues underlying the eating disorder, improve self-esteem, and learn healthy ways of responding to stress and emotional pain. Family therapy is also effective for dealing with the impact the eating disorder has on the entire family unit. • Nutritional counseling – Dieticians or nutritionists are often involved in the treatment of eating disorders. They can help your loved one design meal plans, set dietary goals, and achieve a healthy weight. Nutritional counseling may also involve education about basic nutrition and the health consequences of eating disorders. • Support groups – Attending an eating disorder support group can help your loved one feel less alone and ashamed. Run by peers rather than professionals, support groups provide a safe environment to share experiences, advice, encouragement, and coping strategies. • Residential treatment –- Residential or hospital-based care may be required when there are severe physical or behavioral problems, such as a resistance to treatment, medical issues that require a doctor’s supervision, or continuing weight loss.
Need Help? • Don’t be afraid to mention anything you notice to your Collegiate Fellow or Head Resident. They are the best people to help you find the resources you need. • Visit http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org for more information. • Call or email the Counseling Center on campus. They are more than able to help and all their services are FREE. • For more information, please contact: The Counseling and Advising Center Location: Johnson Student Union, room 204Open: 8:00 AM - 4:45 PM(507) 933-7027