It is important to understand that eating disorders are not “a lifestyle choice”. Eating disorders — extreme emotional responses and physical actions related to food, weight, and body image — are serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. They can result from a complex mix of genetic, biological, psychological, and social influences.
The most common types of eating disorders are:
- binge-eating disorder: compulsive eating; consuming large amounts of food quickly and secretly
- bulimia: regularly forcing the body to reject food by vomiting or the use of laxatives
- anorexia: obsessive dieting and self-starvation
Each of these types of eating disorders causes severe physical consequences to the sufferer’s body. They also damage your emotional and mental state — straining relationships, affecting school and jobs, even leading to thoughts of helplessness and suicide.
Signs of an eating disorder
Eating disorders go way beyond a desire to lose weight. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, look for two or more of these signs of eating disorders:
- extreme weight loss or weight gain
- obsessing about food, calories, diet, and weight
- unusual food rituals, such as excessive chewing, rearranging food on the plate, etc.
- avoidance of eating around other people
- large quantities of food disappearing
- finding evidence (e.g. wrappers) of large quantities of food being consumed in secret
- frequent trips to the bathroom, evidence of vomiting, or laxative use
- withdrawing from friends, family, and regular activities
Symptoms of eating disorders
Eating disorders are dangerous and life-threatening if not treated. Symptoms of eating disorders include:
- brittle hair and nails
- hair loss
- irregular heart beat, even heart damage
- osteoporosis and muscle loss
- brain damage
- organ failure
Eating disorder treatment
There is hope. Eating disorders can be successfully treated and the sufferers go on to live healthy, happy, well-adjusted lives. At A Friend’s House in Bluffton, IN, our inpatient eating disorder treatment center offers help for women seeking from anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment, binge eating disorder treatment and eating disorder help through individual and group talk therapy, nutritional counseling, lifestyle counseling, and monitoring any medications prescribed by your doctor.
E is one of our many success stories. She is a young woman who appeared to be happy and positive and people liked to be around her; but inside she was full of doubt and turmoil that she tried to escape using unhealthy coping mechanisms.
“I started binging and purging when I was 10… and abusing diet pills when I was 13. [But] I learned here to change the way I think. One of the groups we do here focuses almost exclusively on acknowledging our distorted thoughts and changing them. I really hadn’t ever realized how much of an effect my own thoughts had on me—I hadn’t even taken the time to acknowledge what my thoughts were. They were playing like a record on repeat in the back of my mind for so long that I was actually surprised when I discovered just how much negative self-talk I was engaged in at any given moment.”
She stopped trying to cope by obsessively controlling her eating and weight, and other unhealthy behaviors. E learned,
““It’s about coming to terms with my past. It’s about learning to treat everyone with love and mercy, myself included.”