What Are Eating Disorders?

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so our team at Defying Shadows decided that we would join the discussion and help break down any misconceptions about this disorder. Eating Disorders are one of the many “Shadows” that we want to offer encouragement and help for those who are struggling with these issues.

What are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is an illness. One that can cause serious disturbances within your everyday diet. This can mean eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. Those with eating disorders can often times start off by eating smaller or larger amounts of food until at some point, the urge to eat more or less has become spiraled out of control.Eating Disorders are real medical illness. They are also treatable. They oftentimes coexist with other illnesses including depression, substance abuse and/or anxiety disorders. Severe concern about one’s body weight or shape can be a signal of an eating disorder. Other symptoms can be life-threatening if a person does not receive proper treatment. Eating disorders can affect both genders, and often appear during the teen and young adult years, but can also develop within one’s childhood or later in life. Although there are many different types and situations, we are going to discuss the most common types today.

The first type that I would like to talk about today is Anorexia Nervosa.

Those with Anorexia Nervosa often times see themselves as overweight, even when they are clearly underweight. Things like eating, food and weight control become obsessions. Those with anorexia typically weigh themselves repeatedly, portion food carefully and eat very small quantities of only certain foods. Those with anorexia can also engage in binge eating followed by extreme dieting, excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, or the misuse of laxatives.

The second type that I would like to talk about today is Bulimia Nervosa.

Those with Bulimia Nervosa have recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feel a lack of control during these episodes. These episodes of binge eating are followed by behaviour that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, fasting, excessive exercise or a combination of these behaviours. Unlike someone with Anorexia, people with bulimia usually maintain what is considered a healthy or normal weight, while some are slightly overweight. However, like people with anorexia, they fear gaining weight and want to desperately lose weight. They are very unhappy with their body size and/or shape. Bulimic behaviour is usually done in secret because along with this behaviour comes feelings of disgust or shame.

The third type that I would like to talk about today is Binge-eating disorder.

People with binge-eating disorders lose control of their eating habits. Unlike someone with bulimia, the periods of binge eating are not followed by the compensatory behaviours of purging, excessive exercise or fasting. People with a binge eating disorder are often times obese and are at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. People with binge-eating disorders experience the same feelings of guilt, shame and distress about their binge eating, which can often times lead to binge eating.

This week we will continue the discussion of eating disorders by talking about how one develops of eating disorder, learning the truth about yourself, and how to get help if you are struggling with an eating disorder. We will also hear from Tiffany, who struggles with her own eating disorder. Stay tuned for more on this discussion in the coming days!



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