Author, Personality Type & Behavioral Change Expert
ANNE DRANITSARIS, PH.D.
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Eating disorders are a collection of symptoms with varying degrees of severity. Ignorance and confusion about what an eating disorder is often gets in the way of seeking treatment or getting support.
Eating disorders involve extreme disturbances in eating behaviors—following rigid diets, bingeing on food in secret, throwing up after meals, obsessively counting calories. But eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, eating disorders involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors.
People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing. Over time, people with eating disorders lose the ability to see themselves objectively and obsessions over food and weight come to dominate everything else in life.
The greatest challenge of those who suffer with an eating disorder is they suffer alone, rarely letting on that they have a problem. People with eating disorders can go undetected for years because of the veil of secrecy that surrounds the person’s relationship with food and their body. They are unlikely to speak to anyone about it for fear of judgement or intervention.
Eating disorders are a biological, brain-based form of mental illness and are fully treatable.
While eating disorders seem to be about a preoccupations with food and weight, they are about so much more than food. People with eating disorders use food, and the control of food, in an attempt to compensate for feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. Eating disorders are a type of mental illness and therapy is critical for treating this devastating, life threatening disorder.
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