About Eating Disorders
There are many different types of eating disorders and, within each one, there is a scale of severity. Whatever the type of eating disorder though, and wherever you are on the scale, you deserve the help you seek (whether you are diagnosed or not).
Anorexics struggle with obsessions over weight and body shape. Weight loss becomes of primary importance, to the exclusion of everything else. Some weight and shape concerns may include: frequent weight checking; body checking behaviors such as looking in mirrors; having slight fluctuations in weight result in a dramatic impact on mood; and/or excessive exercise. Characteristics may include persistent restriction of energy intake leading to significantly low body weight; intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat; or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain. We typically experienced disturbances in the way we related to our bodies and shapes, and we persisted in not recognizing the seriousness and risks associated with low body weight.
Bulimia usually starts as a weight control technique and quickly becomes a stress management tool, a way to suppress unwelcome emotions. Once a rigid pattern of bulimia is developed, it is incredibly difficult to stop. Common characteristics include: recurrent episodes of binge eating with a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode; inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to prevent weight gain, such as self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics or other medications, fasting or excessive exercise. Self evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight; rigid dieting followed by binge eating; hiding/stealing food; frequent over-eating, especially when stressed; disappearing after eating to purge; use of laxatives, vomiting or over-exercising to control weight; swelling of the glands in throat, face, and neck.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
BED is characterized by compulsive overeating, in which the sufferer consumes a large amount of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. Binge eaters often feel very distressed about their inability to control food intake; however, they do not usually over-exercise or purge as a person with bulimia might do. Warning signs included: eating large amounts of food without purging; a sense of lack of control over eating; eating until uncomfortably or painfully full; feelings of guilt or shame; self medicating with food; and hiding food.
Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)
OSFED may be a catch-all category but don’t be fooled; it’s just as serious as any other eating disorder and the ambiguity can be misleading. Those who do not clinically meet all the criteria for one of the above diagnoses may be suffering just as badly, and deserve as much help, as someone with any other diagnosis. Examples include:
● All the criteria for Anorexia are met except that weight remains within or about normal range, despite significant weight loss.
● All criteria for Bulimia are met except the frequency of binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors occur less frequently.
● All the criteria for BED are met except the frequency of binges.
● In Purging Disorder, purging behavior aimed to influence weight or shape is present but binge eating is absent
● Those with Night Eating Syndrome have recurrent episodes of eating at night (i.e. eating after awakening from sleep or excess caloric intake after the evening meal).