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Types and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

 
Eating disorders -- such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder – include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males.

The following symptoms and behaviors are common in people with anorexia:
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Wearing loose, bulky clothes to hide weight loss
  • Preoccupation with food, dieting, counting calories, etc.
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, such as carbs or fats
  • Avoiding mealtimes or eating in front of others
  • Preparing elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat them
  • Exercising excessively
  • Making comments about being “fat”
  • Stopping menstruating
  • Complaining about constipation or stomach pain
  • Denying that extreme thinness is a problem
The following are common signs of bulimia:
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Evidence of purging, including trips to the bathroom after meals, sounds or smells of vomiting, or packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others, or eating very small portions
  • Exercising excessively
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Complaining about being “fat”
  • Using gum, mouthwash, or mints excessively
  • Constantly dieting
  • Scarred knuckles from repeatedly inducing vomiting
Common signs of binge eating disorder include:
  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in a short time, or finding lots of empty food wrappers or containers
  • Hoarding food, or hiding large quantities of food in strange places
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others
  • Constantly dieting, but rarely losing weight
How Psychotherapy Can Help

Typically, recovery from disordered eating is a long and arduous process. Some therapies are relatively short term, requiring approximately four months, but when the process lasts for years, many people struggle with the motivation and energy required to commit to the work involved. It is important to recognize that recovery involves not just the absence of disordered thoughts and behaviors about food and body, but recovering one’s self—developing a sense of authentic identity, and cultivating self-acceptance and reverence for one’s self.