Eating Disorder Info

Lyn Scott, Registered Dietitian

Here you will find more advanced information on various eating disorders, signs, recommendations, and more about the following:

What is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a condition commonly defined as self-induced starvation. This definition can be misleading because a person with anorexia is often hungry but will refuse to eat by denying their own hunger and need for food as a result of an intense and distorted fear of becoming fat. Other symptoms include excessive weight loss, restrictive control of caloric and fat intake, as well as obsessive thoughts of food/preparation, and extreme worry about body shape and size.

What causes Anorexia?

Anorexia is a complex condition that has many contributing factors. Although research on the exact cause is ongoing, various studies have linked genetic predispositions to the development of Anorexia. The known contributors include biological factors, psychological factors, and environmental factors. We firmly hold that families are not responsible for causing Eating Disorders. No evidence exists to prove that families cause Eating Disorders. (Treatment of Patients with Eating Disorders, Third Edition, APA Practice Guidelines, May 2006)

At LynWeigh Nutrition Counseling, we understand the Eating Disorder to be a “symptom” of a deeper underlying issue. We assist clients in identifying and resolving the underlying causes of the eating disorder as well as developing a more balanced relationship with self and food.

Early Warning Signs of Anorexia:

-Dieting
-Avoiding a widening range of foods
-Avoiding situations like family gatherings or holidays in fear of weight gain
-New interest in “healthy”, “low fat”, “low-carb” or “vegetarian” diets
-Inflexibility on what or when or how much to eat
-Unnatural focus on what others are eating
-A need to know the calorie count of foods
-Never available for family meals
-New interest in cooking and recipes while avoiding eating the food
-Secretive or ritualistic eating
-Avoiding food until certain hours
-Anger at others if pressed to eat
-Fear of overeating or gaining weight
-Obsessively exercising for hours a day

 

Physical Complications of Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Heart damage (murmur, rhythm disturbance, heart failure)

  • Kidney problems (stones, kidney failure)

  • Bone density problems

  • Low blood sugar, low pulse, low respiratory rate, elevated cholesterol

  • Electrolytic imbalances

  • Dehydration and malnutrition

  • Constipation or slower emptying of food from the stomach

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle

  • Low body temperature, slowed circulation

  • Deteriorating hair and nail quality

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Skin rash, lanugo hair (soft hair that appears on the body for warmth)

  • Water retention, bloating, abdominal pain

  • Depression and mood swings

  • Reduced energy

What is Bulimia?

 

 

Bulimia is characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by engaging in compensatory behaviors such as purging or using laxatives to prevent weight gain. A binge consists of eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances usually within a 2 hour period.

Compensatory behaviors are divided into categories: Purging and Non-purging. The purging behaviors include induced vomiting, the use of laxatives and diuretics while the non-purging behaviors involve excessive exercise and alternating periods of strict dieting or fasting.

Physical Complications of Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Esophageal problems (tears, bleeding, rupture)

  • Stomach injuries (inflammation of the lining, rupture)

  • Intestinal injuries (ulcers, bloody stools)

  • Lung complications

  • Kidney and heart complications (kidney stones, kidney failure, uneven heart rate, heart failure)

  • Skin problems

  • Erosion of tooth enamel

  • Swollen salivary glands

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Dehydration

  • Depression and mood swings

Who gets Bulimia?

Bulimia can develop at any time or basically at any age. However, it tends to develop during the teenage years for most. Many people who have struggled with Anorexia often go on to develop Bulimia.

After a prolonged period of restriction, the body may respond to the starvation of Anorexia by being triggered to overeating or binging in an out of control manner, to preserve itself. Feelings of guilt and disgust are feelings that frequently follow this act.

Many times these feelings are so extreme that some kind of relief is sought through engaging in eating disorder behaviors. These behaviors could include a form of extreme exercise that may last for hours even though there is an existing injury, throwing up, taking laxatives far beyond the recommended dose, or taking other medications such as diet pills or water pills to help reduce weight.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

 

Those struggling with an out-of-control Binge Eating Disorder (BED) on an ongoing basis often feel remorse, guilt, and shame afterward – but until May 2013, they had no official diagnoses for their condition.

Like those with anorexia or bulimia, those struggling with a binge eating disorder also suffer from the consequences of a serious eating disorder, but until recently, that was not always recognized to be the case. Please recognize, this is not to imply that everyone’s suffering is the same or to equalize all eating disorders; Instead, it is to clarify that those who have a Binge Eating disorder really do have an eating disorder!

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is more than just making choices that are unhealthy. Similarities exist between Bulimia and BED such as eating more than most people would eat in a similar amount of time and feeling unable to interrupt the process, also known as “binging”.

Another similarity includes the way the binging occurs, sometimes being planned, while other binges are triggered after eating just a bite of a “forbidden” food. Later feeling disgusted and helpless, these individuals will make promises to themselves that this is the last time. However, they usually know that it will happen again. Guilt often follows with thoughts of worthlessness sometimes exacerbated because of the lack of a compensatory behavior that attempts to offset the food just eaten.

Is there hope for recovery?

Moving past the shame and secrecy to seek help is the first critical step. Competent treatment and commitment to recovery paves the way to healing for those who struggle with all eating disorders including Binge Eating.

At LynWeigh Nutrition Counseling, we believe that every person has the ability to separate and recover from a Binge Eating Disorder, in spite of the fear that is felt as they begin to think about life without it. Everyone has the capacity to feel their feelings and survive them. We strongly encourage and support our clients as they work through their war.