Tag Archive for: anorexia

Let’s Talk About Eating Disorders

By Maggie Hensley, RD | Registered Dietitian

The last week of February is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. This week helps raise awareness on how common eating disorders actually are. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), 28.2 million Americans experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week also helps end the stigma of getting help and treatment for them. Have questions about eating disorders, signs, and treatments? You aren’t alone.

What’s an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are mental and physical illnesses. People of all ages, genders, and ethnicity can face eating disorders. In general, an eating disorder involves a person becoming focused on food and weight issues to the point where it gets harder to focus on other parts of your life.

Eating disorders include several related conditions each with its own unique symptoms. Some of the more well-known eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa – involves weight loss and challenges having a healthy body weight for age and height.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – is when a person goes between cycles of binge eating and getting ride of the excess food they ate, either by vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise.
  • Binge Eating – involves someone losing control over their eating, usually eating large amounts of food even when they aren’t hungry.

The more we learn about eating disorders, the more we realize these illnesses can affect any type of person; people who have larger bodies, men, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and people of minority or marginalized identities can have eating disorders. Many people who don’t fit our perception of what an eating disorder looks like don’t get diagnosed because of current kinds screening tools used.

Signs & Symptoms of Eating Disorders

According to the NEDA, there are emotional and physical signs that someone might be living with an eating disorder. Some signs like weight fluctuations, extreme mood swings, uncomfortable eating with others, dizziness, sleep problems, and others listed here.

The NEDA also has a confidential online screening for those 13 years and older here. The earlier an eating disorder is detected, the sooner treatment can begin, and the better the person’s recovery. And recovery is important, because after opioid-dependency, eating disorders are the second most deadly mental illness.  

Eating Disorder Prevention

The best way to avoid an eating disorder is to have a healthy relationship with food. That usually means ditching diets that call for heavy calorie restriction or eliminating an entire food group. Anything less than 1800 calories per day is usually not advised. When thinking about any diets, remember that all food groups are important, even carbohydrates!

It is also important to practice body positivity or body neutrality. This helps us realize we are so much more than just our bodies. This can help us learn that bodies come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes and to celebrate that amazing diversity!

If you are unhappy with your current eating patterns or want to pursue a healthier relationship with food, talk to NOAH. We have on-site dietitians who are experts in nutrition and can help you with those needs.

It’s About More Than Just Food

By MaKayla Kellor, Case Manager

When you hear the phrase “eating disorders,” your mind immediately thinks about food, but what most people do not know is that eating disorders are so much more than just food. This year, during National Eating Disorder Awareness week, we hope to shed light on the deadliest mental illness, because though eating disorders are characterized by obsession with food, body weight and size, the root of an eating disorder is so much deeper.

What is an eating disorder?

  • A way to feel in control when everything else in your life feels out of control.
  • Numbing your undesirable feelings with lack of nutrition.
  • An attempt to achieve higher self-esteem and perfectionism through body image.

The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Though they all have their own signs and symptoms, they all have an equally negative impact on someone’s health, emotions, and ability to function in day-to-day life.

People with eating disorders usually do not think they have a problem. Here are some signs and symptoms to look for if you think someone in your life may have an eating disorder:

  • Skipping meals
  • Making excuses for not eating
  • Intense dieting
  • Excessively working out
  • Avoiding social activities involving food
  • Eating alone rather than with others
  • Lots of talk about body image or weight
  • Using dietary supplements or laxatives
  • Using the restroom immediately after mealtime
  • Eating much more food than a normal portion
  • Shame or guilt around eating

If you are worried that you, or someone you love, has an eating disorder, the best thing you can do to support them is show them love. Eating disorders, like any addiction, are not easy to let go of. You may feel frustration in the process with your loved one and notice that they are not always honest about their progress in recovering from their eating disorder.

Individuals recovering from an eating disorder need compassion and accountability. It may seem as simple as “just eating,” but the depth of an eating disorder and the control, safety, and comfort it provides individuals is much deeper. The unhealthy coping mechanism is still a coping mechanism that has gotten them through their pain, and it will require a lot of inner work. The goal is to get to the root issue that is being masked with disordered eating patterns. People suffering with an eating disorder can’t get better for someone else, so the best thing you can do is show patience and continuous support.

If you have questions about getting help for you or a loved one through an eating disorder, NOAH’s team can help. Call to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced providers.