Almost four million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, due to a variety of different causes and reasons.
Eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, are illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors, thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become obsessed with food and their body weight.
There is no single cause of an eating disorder, as genetics and environment both play a large role. Onset often occurs in adolescence when pressure to diet or lose weight can be a trigger.
Some signs of an eating disorder can include:
. Talking excessively about being fat, weight and calories.
. Changes in eating patterns, such as limiting choices to low-calorie foods or occasional binge eating of calorie-dense foods.
. Excessively exercising.
. Inducing vomiting after meals, or abusing laxatives, diuretics and diet pills.
. Being self-conscious about eating behaviors.
. Eating alone.
Identifying signs can be challenging, and those affected may sometimes deny they have a problem or feel ashamed. Treatment and recovery takes the combined efforts of family and friends, as well as medical and mental health professionals. Treatment helps the affected individuals to change what they do, normalize their eating and reframe the thoughts that sustain eating disordered behaviors.
Support your friend or relative by accompanying them to their appointment with a provider can be helpful. Food is central to many social activities and the practice of eating meals with supportive friends and family is an important step in recovery.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.