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What is an Eating Disorder and How Does It Impact Your Life

April 02, 20244 min read

So, what is an eating disorder? It’s a mental health condition where a person engages in abnormal eating habits that negatively impact the mind and body. This disorder involves a range of behaviors, emotions, and attitudes towards food, weight, and body image.

Types of Eating Disorders

Here are the different types of eating disorders:

1. Anorexia Nervosa

This is where food intake is severely restricted, often leading to dangerously low body weight. It is coupled with the intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image.

2. Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia overeat and then “purge” by causing themselves to vomit or use laxatives. They may also exercise excessively to burn the calories they consume.

3. Binge Eating Disorder

This involves compulsive eating, but does not include purging or compensating through excessive exercise.

4. Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

This category includes eating disorders that don't fit neatly into anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, but still significantly impact a person's life.

5. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

It was previously called selective eating disorder. It is normal for children to be picky with food when they’re young, but if this behavior persists into adulthood, then it may be ARFID.

6. Orthorexia

Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy eating, focusing on the quality over quantity of food intake in an extreme way, often to the detriment of overall health.

Causes and Risk Factors of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have many aspects and various factors contributing to their development:

  • Biological Factors: Genetic, neurobiological, and hormonal imbalances.

  • Psychological Factors: Low self-esteem, perfectionism, trauma, and body dissatisfaction.

  • Social and Environmental Factors: Peer pressure, family culture, history of dieting, and social norms regarding appearance.

  • Genetic: Individuals with a family history of eating disorders are at higher risk.

It is also important to recognize the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Here are some:

  • Physical Signs: Rapid weight loss or weight fluctuation, fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, and gastrointestinal issues.

  • Behavioral Signs: Obsessive calorie counting, eating in secret, frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, and avoiding social situations involving food.

  • Emotional and Psychological Signs: Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depression, preoccupation with food, and distorted body image.

The Impact of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders not only affect our physical health but also take a toll on us mentally, on our relationships, and our daily life. Let’s explore the impact of eating disorders together.

Medical Complications

Eating disorders don’t just mess with our relationship with food. They can also destroy our bodies. The physical toll can be huge. Examples are malnutrition and dehydration to heart problems and digestive issues, hair loss, brittle nails, and a weakened immune system.

Psychological Effects

Anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies often come with eating disorders. The constant battle between what we think we should eat and what we actually eat can lead to a never-ending cycle of guilt, shame, and despair.

Coexisting Disorders

These often come with other mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It’s often hard to unravel this mess. Seeking support from mental health professionals who understand these issues can make a big difference.

Relationships and Daily Life

Eating disorders don’t just affect us; they ripple out into our relationships and daily life. It may be difficult to open up about what we’re going through. Friends may not understand why we’re skipping meals or avoiding social gatherings. Family relationships can get rocky as tension builds and communication breaks down.

And there’s also the impact on our academic and occupational lives. It’s hard to focus on school or work when our minds are consumed by thoughts of food and body image. Concentration wanes, productivity dips, and our goals feel further and further out of reach.

Recovery is Possible

The good news is it’s not all doom and gloom. Recovery is possible, and there’s hope for you and me. It may not be an easy journey, but with the right support and guidance, healing is within reach. Therapy, support groups, and loving connections can be beacons of light, guiding us toward a bright and healthy future.

So, if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, know that you are worthy of help and healing. Reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional whom you trust. You deserve to nourish not only your body but also your mind and soul.

You are enough! You are not alone! So, take a deep breath and move forward because you’ve got this.

eating disordersbinge eatingmental health condition
Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

Jeanne Prinzivalli

Jeanne Prinzivalli is a licensed psychotherapist working with adult individuals. She supports people on their journey to self-awareness, self-care and overall wellbeing.

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Phone: (323) 879-7809

Copyright@2023 Blossom Wellness Spa, Inc.