According to the CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association, around 30 million Americans have dealt with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. An eating disorder is characterized by severe disturbances in one’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions in regards to food, eating, and weight. Although eating disorders can occur independently, they are often accompanied by other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, and alcohol or drug abuse problems.
There are three main types of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by limited food intake, fear of being fat, and problems with body images or denial of low body weight. People affected by anorexia don’t eat enough, exercise obsessively, and are at least 15% less than the normal healthy weight expected for their height.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by frequent binge eating episodes followed by purging episodes of vomiting or using laxatives. People who have bulimia are not as underweight as those with anorexia, and can range from being slightly underweight to obsese.
Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating large quantities of food. The difference between binge eating and bulimia is that people with a binge eating disorder will not purge afterwards.
However, not all eating habits necessarily indicate an eating disorder. This is especially the case when it comes to certain types of diets. In some cases, it can be difficult to determine the difference between a diet and an eating disorder. So, just how do you tell the difference? While only a licensed mental health professional can accurately diagnose an eating disorder, you may have an eating disorder if…
You are excessively obsessed with dieting.
Most of us all diet from time to time and will go through periods where we watch what and how much we eat. However, when a preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, and fat grams becomes your primary concern above all else or if you are constantly dieting, you may have an eating disorder.
You exercise constantly.
Exercising regularly is healthy, however exercising excessively with no regard to weather, fatigue, illness, or injury can indicate a problem.
Your weight loss goals are always changing.
While some weight loss goals are beneficial, the end goal should be to be healthy. If you notice yourself becoming more obsessed with losing weight after already losing weight, this can indicate a possible eating disorder.
You have low self-esteem.
People with eating disorders often view themselves in a negative light. They may constantly look in the mirrors for flaws and/or believe that they are fat. They may also tie their sense of self-worth to their weight. If you find yourself being excessively self-critical of yourself or your weight, you may have an eating disorder.
You have strong emotions towards food.
Some people find themselves not wanting to eat at all, others will avoid eating certain food groups, and others will eat too much at one time. However, these eating habits are usually accompanied by some type of strong emotion. If you find yourself feeling disgusted, depressed, embarrassed, or guilty after eating, then this can indicate a possible eating disorder.
Dr. Miller is trained in Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is also trained in Anesthesia and Pain Management. Because of her broad experience, Dr. Miller is uniquely qualified to treat psychological trauma, depression and anxiety that can occur as a result of injury or disability. For more information, schedule a consultation at NJ Family Psychiatry & Therapy.