Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders

Post  Kunoichi on Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:43 pm

What is anorexia nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an irrational dread of becoming fat coupled with a relentless pursuit of thinness. People with anorexia go to extremes­ to reach and maintain a dangerously low body weight. But no matter how much weight is lost, no matter how emaciated they become, it’s never enough. The more the scale dips, the more obsessed they become with food, dieting, and weight loss.

The key features of anorexia nervosa are:

* Refusal to sustain a minimally normal body weight
* Intense fear of gaining weight, despite being underweight
* Distorted view of one’s body or weight, or denial of the dangers of one’s low weight

There are two types of anorexia. In the restricting type, weight loss is achieved by restricting calories. Restricting anorexics follow drastic diets, go on fasts, and exercise to excess. In the purging type, people get rid of calories they’ve consumed by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics.

Anorexia is most common in adolescent girls and young women, with a typical age of onset between the ages of 13 and 20. But people of all ages­—including men and children—can suffer from anorexia.

What is bulimia?

When you suffer from bulimia, life is a constant battle between the desire to lose weight or stay thin and the overwhelming compulsion to binge eat. You do your best to keep the cravings at bay. You don’t want to binge—you know you’ll feel disgusted and ashamed afterwards—but you can’t fight the urge. All you can think of is food, and in the end, you give in.

You eat whatever you can get your hands on, binging until you’re so stuffed you feel like you’re going to explode. Then the panic over all the calories you’ve eaten sets in. Terrified of gaining weight, you turn to drastic measures to “undo” your binge, purging, fasting, or exercising to get rid of the calories. And all the while, you feel increasingly out of control.
The three key features of bulimia

* Regular episodes of out-of-control binge eating
* Inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain
* Self-worth excessively influenced by weight and physical appearance

It’s important to note that bulimia doesn’t necessarily involve purging—physically eliminating the food from your body by throwing up or using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics. If you make up for your binges by fasting, exercising to excess, or going on crash diets, this also qualifies as bulimia.
Am I Bulimic?

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely you are suffering from bulimia or another eating disorder.

* Are you obsessed with your body and your weight?
* Does food and dieting dominate your life?
* Are you afraid that when you start eating, you won’t be able to stop?
* Do you ever eat until you feel sick?
* Do you feel guilty, ashamed, or depressed after you eat?
* Do you vomit or take laxatives to control your weight?

Binge and Purge Cycle

Dieting triggers bulimia’s destructive cycle of binging and purging. The irony is that the more strict and rigid the diet, the more likely it is that you’ll become preoccupied, even obsessed, with food. When you starve yourself, your body responds with powerful cravings—its way of asking for needed nutrition.

As the tension, hunger, and feelings of deprivation build, the compulsion to eat becomes too powerful to resist: a “forbidden” food is eaten; a dietary rule is broken. With an all-or-nothing mindset, you feel any diet slip-up is a total failure. After having a bite of ice cream, you might think, “I’ve already blown It, so I might as well go all out.”

Unfortunately, the relief that binging brings is extremely short-lived. Soon after, guilt and self-loathing set in. And so you purge to make up for binging and regain control.

Unfortunately, purging only reinforces binge eating. Though you may tell yourself, as you launch into a new diet, that this is the last time, in the back of your mind there’s a voice telling you that you can always throw up or use laxatives if you lose control again. What you may not realize is that purging doesn’t come close to wiping the slate clean after a binge.
Purging does NOT prevent weight gain

Purging isn’t effective at getting rid of calories, which is why most people suffering with bulimia end up gaining weight over time. Vomiting immediately after eating will only eliminate 50% of the calories consumed at best—and usually much less. This is because calorie absorption begins the moment you put food in the mouth. Laxatives and diuretics are even less effective. Laxatives get rid of only 10% of the calories eaten, and diuretics do nothing at all. You may weigh less after taking them, but that lower number on the scale is due to water loss, not true weight loss.
Signs and symptoms of bulimia

If you’ve been living with bulimia for a while, you’ve probably “done it all” to conceal your binging and purging habits. It’s only human to feel ashamed about having a hard time controlling yourself with food, so you most likely binge alone. If you eat a box of doughnuts, then you’ll replace them so your friends or family won’t notice. When buying food for a binge, you might shop at four separate markets so the checker won’t guess. But despite your secret life, those closest to you probably have a sense that something is not right.
Binge eating signs and symptoms

* Lack of control over eating: Inability to stop eating. Eating until the point of physical discomfort and pain.
* Secrecy surrounding eating: Going to the kitchen after everyone else has gone to bed. Going out alone on unexpected food runs. Wanting to eat in privacy.
* Eating unusually large amounts of food with no obvious change in weight.
* Disappearance of food, numerous empty wrappers or food containers in the garbage, or hidden stashes of junk food.
* Alternating between overeating and fasting: Rarely eats normal meals. It’s all-or-nothing when it comes to food.

Purging signs and symptoms

* Going to the bathroom after meals: Frequently disappears after meals or takes a trip to the bathroom to throw up. May run the water to disguise sounds of vomiting.
* Using laxatives, diuretics, or enemas after eating. May also take diet pills to curb appetite or use the sauna to “sweat out” water weight.
* Smell of vomit: The bathroom or the person may smell like vomit. They may try to cover up the smell with mouthwash, perfume, air freshener, gum, or mints.
* Excessive exercising: Works out strenuously, especially after eating. Typical activities include high-intensity calorie burners such as running or aerobics.

Physical signs and symptoms of bulimia

* Calluses or scars on the knuckles or hands from sticking fingers down the throat to induce vomiting.
* Puffy “chipmunk” cheeks caused by repeated vomiting.
* Discolored teeth from exposure to stomach acid when throwing up. May look yellow, ragged, or clear.
* Not underweight: Men and women with bulimia are usually normal weight or slightly overweight. Being underweight while purging might indicate a purging type of anorexia.
* Frequent fluctuations in weight: Weight may fluctuate by 10 pounds or more due to alternating episodes of bingeing and purging.

Eating Disorder Treatment and Recovery


Help for Anorexia and Bulimia

The inner voices of anorexia and bulimia whisper that you’ll never be happy until you lose weight, that your worth is measured by how you look. But the truth is that happiness and self-esteem come from loving yourself for who you truly are–and that’s only possible with recovery.

It may seem like there’s no escape from your eating disorder, but recovery is within your reach. With treatment, support from others, and smart self-help strategies, you can overcome your eating disorder and gain true self-confidence.

Eating disorder recovery

The road to eating disorder recovery starts with admitting you have a problem. This admission can be tough, especially if you’re still clinging to the belief–even in the back of your mind–that weight loss is the key to happiness, confidence, and success. Even when you finally understand that thinness isn’t the Holy Grail you thought it was, old habits are hard to break.

The good news is that the eating disorder behaviors you’ve learned can be unlearned. That doesn’t mean the process is smooth, quick, or easy, but you can do it if you’re motivated to change and willing to ask for help. However, eating disorder recovery is about more than giving up unhealthy eating behaviors. Overcoming an eating disorder is also about rediscovering who you are beyond your eating habits, weight, and body image.

Help for Anorexia and Bulimia

True recovery from anorexia and bulimia involves:

* Learning to listen to your body
* Learning to listen to your feelings
* Learning to trust yourself
* Learning to accept yourself
* Learning to love yourself

This may seem like a lot to tackle, but just remember that you’re not alone. Help for eating disorders is out there; all you have to do is ask!
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Kunoichi
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