Sunday, October 10, 2010

Eating disorders

I thought I would write a post about the different forms of eating disorders and the signs of each.  Just so you know I am in noway a medical professional and all the following information I have gathered is from the following site .  At the end of this post you can read about my own struggle with eating disorders.

The most common element surrounding ALL Eating Disorders is the inherent presence of a low self esteem.  Having an Eating Disorder is much more than just being on a diet. An Eating Disorder is an illness that permeates all aspects of each sufferer's life, it is caused by a variety of emotional factors and influences, and has profound effects on the people suffering and their loved ones.
Anorexia Nervosa
Those who are suffering with this illness have a low self-esteem and often a tremendous need to control their surroundings and emotions. The Eating Disorder, Anorexia, is a unique reaction to a variety of external and internal conflicts, such as stress, anxiety, unhappiness and feeling like life is out of control. Anorexia is a negative way to cope with these emotions. New research indicates that for a percentage of sufferers, a genetic predisposition may play a role in a sensitivity to develop Anorexia, with environmental factors being the trigger.

The person suffering with Anorexia may be abnormally sensitive about being perceived as fat, or have a massive fear of becoming fat -- though not all people living with Anorexia have this fear. They may be afraid of losing control over the amount of food they eat, accompanied by the desire to control their emotions and reactions to their emotions. With a low self-esteem and need for acceptance they will turn to obsessive dieting and starvation as a way to control not only their weight, but their feelings and actions regarding the emotions attached. Some also feel that they do not deserve pleasure out of life, and will deprive themselves of situations offering pleasure (including eating).

Some of the behavioral signs can be: obsessive exercise, calorie and fat gram counting, starvation and restriction of food, self-induced vomiting, the use of diet pills, laxatives or diuretics to attempt controlling weight, and a persistent concern with body image.

It is important to point out that there can be a number of ways a person suffering from Anorexia can portray their disorder. The inherent trait of a person suffering Anorexia is to attempt to maintain strict control over food intake. In a number of cases a man or woman suffering will seem to eat normal meals with only periods of restriction. Anorexics are sometimes known to eat junk food, particularly candy, to drink a lot of coffee or tea, and/or to smoke. They may deny hunger, make excuses to avoid eating, will often hide food they claim to have eaten, use diet pills to control appetite, or attempt to purge the food away with self-induced vomiting, or by taking laxatives.

Bulimia Nervosa
Men and women who live with Bulimia seek out binge and purge episodes -- they will eat a large quantity of food in a relatively short period of time and then use behaviors such as taking laxatives or self-induced vomiting -- because they feel overwhelmed in coping with their emotions, or in order to punish themselves for something they feel they should unrealistically blame themselves for. This can be in direct relation to how they feel about themselves, or how they feel over a particular event or series of events in their lives. Those suffering with Bulimia may seek episodes of binging and purging to avoid and let out feelings of anger, depression, stress or anxiety. New research indicates that for a percentage of sufferers, a genetic predisposition may play a role in a sensitivity to develop Bulimia, with environmental factors being the trigger.
Men and women suffering Bulimia are usually aware they have an eating disorder. Fascinated by food they sometimes buy magazines and cook-books to read recipes, and enjoy discussing dieting issues.

Some of the behavioral signs can be: Recurring episodes of rapid food consumption followed by tremendous guilt and purging (laxatives or self-induced vomiting), a feeling of lacking control over his or her eating behaviors, regularly engaging in stringent diet plans and exercise, the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, and/or diet pills and a persistent concern with body image can all be warning signs someone is suffering with Bulimia.

It is important to realize that what makes a person Bulimic -- as opposed to Anorexic -- is not the purging, but the cycle of binging and purging. Purging may be using laxatives or self-induced vomiting, but there are Bulimics who use other inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as compulsive exercise (ie., excessive jogging or aerobics), to attempt to burn off the calories of a binge, or fasting the day following a binge. It is not uncommon for a man or woman suffering with Bulimia to take diet pills in an attempt to keep from binging, or to use diuretics to try to lose weight. A sufferer will often hide or "store" food for later binges, will often eat secretly and can have large fluctuations in their weight.

Both Anorexia and Bulimia...
There are many similarities in both illnesses, the most common being the cause. There seems to be a common occurrence of sexual and/or physical and emotional abuse in direct relation to eating disorders (though not all people living with Eating Disorders are survivors of abuse). There also seems to be a direct connection in some people to clinical Depression. The eating disorder sometimes causes the depression or the depression can lead to the eating disorder. All in all, eating disorders are very complex emotional issues -- Though they may seem to be nothing more than a dangerously obsessive weight concern on the surface, for most men and women suffering with an eating disorder there are deeper emotional conflicts to be resolved.

Compulsive Overeating
People suffering with Compulsive Overeating have what is characterized as an "addiction" to food, using food and eating as a way to hide from their emotions, to fill a void they feel inside, and to cope with daily stresses and problems in their lives.

People suffering with this Eating Disorder tend to be overweight, are usually aware that their eating habits are abnormal, but find little comfort because of society's tendency to stereotype the "overweight" individual. Words like, "just go on a diet" are as emotionally devastating to a person suffering Compulsive Overeating as "just eat" can be to a person suffering Anorexia. A person suffering as a Compulsive Overeater is at health risk for a heart attack, high blood-pressure and cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis and bone deterioration, and stroke.

Men and Women who are Compulsive Overeaters will sometimes hide behind their physical appearance, using it as a blockade against society (common in survivors of sexual abuse). They feel guilty for not being "good enough," shame for being overweight, and generally have a very low self-esteem... they use food and eating to cope with these feelings, which only leads into the cycle of feeling them ten-fold and trying to find a way to cope again. With a low self esteem and often constant need for love and validation he/she will turn to obsessive episodes of binging and eating as a way to forget the pain and the desire for affection.

It is important to remember that most Eating Disorders, though their signs and symptoms may be different, share a great number of common causes and emotional aspects.

Binge Eating Disorder
Men and Women living with Binge Eating Disorder suffer a combination of symptoms similar to those of Compulsive Overeaters and Bulimia. The sufferer periodically goes on large binges, consuming an unusually large quantity of food in a short period of time (less than 2 hours) uncontrollably, eating until they are uncomfortably full. The weight of each individual is usually characterized as above average or overweight, and sufferers tend to have a more difficult time losing weight and maintaining average healthy weights. Unlike with Bulimia, they do not purge following a Binge episode.

Reasons for Binge Eating can be similar to those of Compulsive Overeating; Using Binges as a way to hide from their emotions, to fill a void they feel inside, and to cope with daily stresses and problems in their lives. Binging can be used as a way to keep people away, to subconsciously maintain an overweight appearance to cater to society's sad stigma "if I'm fat, no one will like me," as each person suffering may feel undeserving of love. As with Bulimia, Binging can also be used as self-punishment for doing "bad" things, or for feeling badly about themselves.

A person suffering with Binge Eating Disorder is at health risk for a heart attack, high blood-pressure and cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis and bone deterioration, and stroke.

As some of you may know already I suffered for bulimia for over 10 years but I have been able to fight the urge for about 7 months now.  I partly give credit for this to the anti-depressant that I'm on called cymbalta.  Reading through all these different forms of eating disorders I can say with confidence that I have had some form of each one of these.  Cycling from bulimia where I would binge and purge to a point where I would feel guilty about purging so I would just purge which is known as binge eating disorder.  When I got tired of binging on foods and gaining weight I would go on a starvation diet where I would try to restrict my calories or even have days where I would fast which was my phase in the anorexic period.  When I couldn't maintain this any longer then I would end up eating compulsively only to end up binging and purging again.  It feels so good to finally be at a point in my life where I am eating healthy and exercising, I'm finally doing it the right way.

Bulimia is a very scary disease.  I use to read about it online all the time and once I found a site where you could list the names of people who had died from eating disorders and there were so many people that had been suffering from bulimia much longer than I had and they died from complication of the disease.  I worried that one day my heart was just going to give out or my esophagus was going to rupture while purging.  Its not something I had control over no matter how much I wanted to believe I was the one in control.  Just like with trying to lose weight you keeping making yourself promises, I promise this is the last time or I'll be a good girl tomorrow.  I honestly believed that bulimia would kill me and the sad thing was even though I was binging and purging it never got me to the weight I wanted to be.  There are no quick solutions to weight loss, no magic pill, just hard work and determination. 

If anyone reading this post feels like they suffer from one of these eating disorders please ask for help, from me, a friend, family, your doctor or a counselor.  I know that its hard to overcome an eating disoder but I'm LIVING prove it can be done.  I can't say its easy and I can't say there aren't still days where I am tempted to binge and purge but just like with any other addiction once you get your mind clear and your heart set on losing weight the right way you can overcome anything.

For anyone that would like to share do you feel like you suffer from any of these forms of eating disorder and how are you trying to overcome it?  I wish you the best of luck and I will offer support anyway I can.

The information contained in this post was "Used by permission from CRC Health".  To read more about this topic and many more visit .


  1. this post is very educational! A great read if I do say so myself!

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  3. Interesting post. There is more to it than meets the eye and I wish people would realize that. I hear people at work saying they wish they had Anorexia every once in a while. Little do they know the seriousness of the disease. People don't just choose to have these illnesses. I would say that I am a binge eater purely for relieving stress and anxiety and I have to tell you that there isn't much "help" for binge eaters out there. I've tried. Programs are mostly directly to Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia. Maybe because they are more serious in the short term to your help. I'm not sure.

  4. It was so brave of you to put your own personal struggles out here like this. It's not always easy to admit our vulnerabilities, for some reason. But it's nothing to be ashamed of, and I applaud you for identifying it and discussing it openly. It just might help someone else as well!

  5. Thank you Just Me and Charlotte. I've never minded talking about my eating disorder. I was ashamed of it at the time I was doing it but now I'm proud of myself for overcoming it. Just Me you are absolutely right noone should wish to have these diseases. I think alot of people believe that they can control them and stop at will but once you start there is no stopping. Bulimia and anorexia both mess with chemicals in your brain and screw your thinking up so much that you don't even know up from down anymore so how are you going to fight the disease. I think years of being bulimic may be why I have to be on depression medicine now but I don't have prove of that. I'm just happy I'm finally eating right and exercising and losing weight the right way.