Causes, Warnings Signs And How To Seek Help – Forbes Health

This article contains content related to disordered eating and dieting behaviors.

If a friend opens up to you and reveals that she severely restricted her food intake to lose weight, is this behavior a sign of an eating disorder or disorders? What about a family member who seems obsessed with eating clean and calls anything with sugar “toxic”? Eating disorders and eating disorders are two terms that sound very similar, and while they share some similarities, there are important differences that set them apart.

Eating disorders are collectively one of the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose. Additionally, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), 9% of the US population will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Meanwhile, statistics on the number of people living with eating disorders are sparser because the behaviors often go undiagnosed or are as obvious as those associated with an eating disorder. However, a 2008 survey sponsored by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that up to 6% of US women between the ages of 25 and 45 have disordered eating behaviors.

Eating disorders and eating disorders can have serious consequences, which is why it’s important to know the signs of both and who is most at risk. If you or someone you know is dealing with harmful eating habits, help is available.

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What is Eating Disorder?

“Eating disorder is when a person settles into a rigid diet or exercise routine and becomes upset when they are unable to commit to their routine,” explains Melissa Geraghty, Psy.D. a clinical health psychologist specializing in eating disorders. Although these behaviors can be dangerous, they may not meet established diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

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Disorderly eating is often fueled by a focused concern about body shape and weight, says Jamie Long, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders. It can also manifest as a way to deal with emotional stress, she adds.

Additionally, these behaviors can (but are not always) a precursor to an eating disorder, which is a diagnosable condition.

Eating Disorders vs Eating Disorders: What’s the Difference?

Both Dr. Geraghty as well as Dr. Long say that the key difference between eating disorders and an eating disorder is that an eating disorder is a diagnosable mental illness with established criteria and a more extreme nature. For eating disorders, on the other hand, there are no set diagnostic criteria and the symptoms are often not as extreme. Regardless, an eating disorder should still be taken seriously.

“Severity, grade, number of symptoms, and frequency of symptoms distinguish eating disorders from eating disorders,” adds Dr. Geraghty added. “In my experience, people who deal with eating disorders typically don’t engage in behaviors like defecation, overuse of laxatives, and overexercising, even when they’re sick and injured,” she says.

Another hallmark of eating disorders is that it often stems from a desire to be “healthier” that slowly becomes more rigid in nature, explains Dr. Long. A person who engages in disordered eating may become obsessed with “clean eating” and use extreme language to describe certain foods, such as: B. “poisonous” or “poisonous”.

8 Types of Eating Disorders

For some individuals, an eating disorder can eventually become a diagnosable eating disorder. According to that Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)There are eight types of eating disorders.

  • Anorexia: Symptoms include an intense fear of gaining weight, extreme dietary restriction, and/or binging and purging.
  • Bulimia: Symptoms include eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, followed by forced vomiting or the use of laxatives.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms include eating quickly and not knowing how much food you’ve eaten, or eating when you’re not hungry. Unlike bulimia nervosa, this behavior is not followed by detoxification.
  • Avoidant or Restrictive Feeding Disorder: This disorder occurs in the first seven years of life and describes a loss of interest in food or an intense aversion to certain tastes, smells, colors, and textures of foods.
  • Picture: A person with this disorder craves non-food items.
  • rumination: A person with this disorder will vomit up previously swallowed food, chew it again, and then either swallow it or spit it out.
  • Other specific nutritional and eating disorders These include purging disorder, night eating syndrome, atypical anorexia nervosa and orthorexia.
  • Unspecified nutritional and eating disorders include symptoms of an eating disorder that do not meet all criteria but cause clinically significant distress.

Who is Most at Risk for Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders can affect anyone of any age and in any body. Dieters, girls and women, boys and men, people of color, LGBTQ identifying people, and veterans are all at risk, according to Dr. Long puts everyone at risk of engaging in disordered eating.

However, diagnosis and treatment may not look the same for all people affected by eating disorders. For example, a 2020 report by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health suggests that people of color are half as likely to be diagnosed or treated for an eating disorder as whites.

A study from 2019 is now available in the Youth Health Journal found that 60% of college students who identify as members of the LGBTQ community reported engaging in disordered eating behaviors.

Chronic dieters, regardless of their height, may be at risk for eating disorders because of the cultural pressures they feel to lose weight, Dr. Long gone. “Dieting is detrimental to our health, and as a culture, we need to shift our focus from weight loss to behaviors that promote health,” she says.

Eating Disorder Warning Signs

In order to know if you or someone you care about is exhibiting disordered eating, it is important to understand what it looks like. Some common signs of eating disorders are:

  • Chronic Diet. Trending diets, detoxification, and restrictive eating are all forms of chronic dieting, explains Dr. Geraghty.
  • skipping meals. Similar to chronic dieting, experts say this behavior can be done under the guise of “health” when in fact it’s being done as a way of calorie restriction.
  • A fixation on body image. Experts say that obsessively talking about losing weight or constantly pointing out what you don’t like about your body often goes hand in hand with eating disorders.
  • Set firm rules about eating. An example of rigid rule-making is having to exercise for a certain amount of time before or after meals.
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Health Risks of Eating Disorders

A disrupted diet can have serious consequences and put someone at risk of developing a range of health problems. Some of these health risks are:

  • Malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies. Long-term food restriction can prevent the body from getting the nutrients it needs to function properly, says Dr. Long.
  • bone density loss. If someone doesn’t get enough of important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, their bones can become weak and brittle.
  • Changes in menstruation. A disturbed diet can lead to menstrual irregularities in some women.
  • Heart problems. dr Long points to a 2019 study that linked weight fluctuations to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (although more research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made).
  • Changes in bowel habits. Because the digestive system needs adequate fiber to function properly, insufficient intake due to restrictive eating habits can lead to changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea, says Dr. Geraghty.
  • Social isolation. Individuals living with disordered eating habits may isolate themselves, especially around mealtime, notes Dr. Geraghty. mention, that.

Where to seek help for eating disorders

When you’re struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to seek help. “Look for a therapist who specializes in eating disorders or eating disorders,” advises Dr. Long. For help locating a specialist in your area (or someone you can meet virtually), contact the National Eating Disorder Association by phone, text message, or online chat.

It can also be beneficial to work with a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, adds Dr. Long added. The nutritionist’s role is to ensure a person is getting the right nutrients while making behavioral changes. Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians & Professionals (EDRDPRO) is a helpful resource for finding a dietitian with this particular expertise.

The good news is that eating disorder help is readily available when you seek it, and you are never alone on your journey to mental and physical well-being.

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