Disordered Eating

What Is Disordered Eating and How to Recognize It?

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that cause a troubled relationship with food and unhealthy eating habits. Disordered eating usually begins with a preoccupation with food, body weight, and body image but it can soon take its toll on your mental and physical health.

Statistics on Disordered Eating

  • According to estimates, 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

  • Eating disorders affect about 9 percent of the world’s population.

  • Eating disorders are among the most lethal mental illnesses, coming in second only to an opioid overdose—one person dies due to an eating disorder every 52 minutes.

  • Anorexia nervosa is a mental illness with the highest mortality rate among adolescents.

  • It is believed that a combination of various biological, psychological, and social factors can trigger eating disorders.

What Are the Most Common Eating Disorders?

The most common types of disordered eating involve:

  • Anorexia nervosa

  • Bulimia nervosa

  • Binge eating 

  • Compulsive exercise

Anorexia Nervosa

If you suffer from anorexia, you may see yourself as overweight even though you are dangerously underweight. As a result, you may avoid certain foods, severely restrict your calorie intake, and constantly monitor your weight.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa sufferers eat a lot and then reach for self-induced vomiting. During a binge eating phase, you may lose control and not stop eating until you are painfully full. Self-induced vomiting serves to relieve discomfort and make up for the calories you consume.

Binge Eating

Binge eating involves uncontrollably devouring large amounts of food. During a binge eating episode, you may feel out of control. However, you may not restrict calories or use self-induced vomiting to compensate for excessive eating. But you may experience shame, disgust, and guilt for overeating.

Compulsive Exercise

The compulsive exercise involves obsessive workouts to lose weight. If you suffer from compulsive exercise, you may go to the gym not to maintain good health but to punish yourself for eating.

You may prioritize exercise over other daily activities, train even when sick or injured, or feel guilty or anxious if forced to miss a workout for any reason.

Other common eating disorders involve:

  • Pica - eating non-food items.

  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder - dietary restrictions on the amount and type of food consumed, but without any distress about body size and shape.

  • Rumination Disorder - vomiting undigested food, chewing it again, and then swallowing or spitting it out.

When to Seek Help?

Eating disorders can be successfully treated. However, the sooner you recognize and address an eating disorder, the better your chances of recovery.

So, here are some of the symptoms of an eating disorder. While you most likely will not have all of these symptoms at once and eating disorder symptoms often vary between disorders, the following symptoms can provide a general overview of possible red flags.

  • Obsession with body image

  • Food restraints

  • Refusal to eat certain foods

  • Skipping meals

  • Frequent dieting

  • Weight fluctuations

  • Vomiting

  • Binge eating

  • Over-exercising

  • Irregular periods

  • Sleep issues

  • An inability to focus

  • Dizziness

  • Muscle ache

  • Dry skin and hair

  • Weakened immunity 

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Common Ground Psychiatry is here to help. Contact us today to get mental health evaluation for eating disorders, as therapy and medication can help you cope and start the healing process. We will walk beside you on your road to wellness.