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All about Eating Disorders

By: Karla Coughenour, MA, RDN, LDN, LCMHC

119 West Woodhill Drive, Unit 5 | Nags Heads, NC 27959 | 252.455.2805

We are surrounded by messages about diet and weight. You can always find some celebrity endorsing some quick weight loss plan in magazines, social media, or television. Our culture is fixated on weight which has led to many believing that their worth or value is dependent on what they weigh or how their body looks. These unrelenting messages can create a distorted mindset regarding weight and food which can lead to Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Binge Eating Disorder. Here are some things to watch for if you or someone you care about may be struggling with disordered eating.

Anorexia Nervosa

  • A persistent restriction of food intake below what is required for their body.

  • Intense fear of gaining weight.

  • Wearing warmer clothes because they are cold or to cover up parts of their body that they believe are too big.

  • Increased focus on recipes, cooking or baking for others, but refusal to eat their own food.

  • Frequent body-checking which includes looking in mirror, seeking reassurance that they aren’t fat or have gained weight from others, as well as, examination of their body for any possible changes.

  • Disturbance in how the body is viewed such as believing the body is fat when they are clearly underweight.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Recurrent episodes of binge-eating, which includes eating a large amount of food in a small window of time and a sense of loss of control during these episodes.

  • Recurrent attempts to offset calories eaten during a binge by vomiting, excessive exercise, laxative use, restriction of food intake, and diuretics.

  • Increased focus on weight, food, and body.

  • People with bulimia nervosa may appear to be of a healthy weight which can make this more difficult to recognize. Even though those who struggle with Bulimia Nervosa may not look malnourished, this is a very dangerous disorder due to the electrolyte imbalances that can result from frequent purging.

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Recurrent episodes of binge-eating, which includes eating large amounts of food in a small window of time and a sense of loss of control during these episodes.

  • These episodes may include eating more rapidly than normal and until you feel uncomfortably full, eating when not physically hungry, eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating, and feeling guilty afterwards.

  • Binge Eating disorder can lead to rapid weight gain.

All three of these disorders can be life-threatening and seeking professional help is highly recommended. A treatment team that includes a mental health counselor and dietitian who will work alongside your primary care physician has been found to be most effective in promoting recovery from an eating disorder.

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