WHAT IS AN EATING DISORDER?
DISORDERED EATING involves a disconnection from our body’s physical cues. We are engaging in disordered eating patterns when our body gives us a hunger cue and we ignore its signal to eat (too busy, dieting, stressed etc). Likewise, when our body gives us a fullness cue and we ignore its signal to stop eating (enjoying the taste, eating too quickly, thanksgiving etc) we are engaging in disordered eating patterns. Some degree of disordered eating is expected as a part of normal eating patterns. It is challenging to be mindful every moment and listen to our body’s cues.
EATING DISORDERS involve regular patterns of intensely disordered eating and are accompanied by extreme behaviors, thoughts, and emotions surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.
Currently, eating disorders are categorized in the following sub-groups:
ANOREXIA NERVOSA is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Symptoms include a 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,” and loss of menstrual periods.
BULIMIA NERVOSA is characterized by a cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Binge eating 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. Body weight varies.
BINGE EATING DISORDER (also known as compulsive overeating) 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. Body weight varies.
OTHER EATING DISORDERS can include some combination of the signs and symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and/or binge eating disorder.
COMPULSIVE EXERCISE can be a component of all types of eating disorders. Over-exercising is often overlooked as a symptom of an eating disorder, but many individuals who struggle with disordered eating feel ‘addicted’ or compulsive in their exercising habits.