Eating Disorders

Bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, EDNOS

What are eating disorders?

Definition: noun. Any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits.

"A person who is suffering from an eating disorder has an intense fear of gaining or losing weight and have a distorted body image of themselves" (University of Maryland Medical Center). Thoughts of what they are consuming, how much they are exercising, and how they look constantly consume their mind.

Myths about eating disorders

-Eating disorders are just a problem with how much food a person does or doesn't eat: Most eating disorders are more about self-esteem, control, and body image rather than the actual food.

-No one dies from an eating disorder: Too many people die from complications resulting from eating disorders. Statistics show that 20% of people who do not seek treatment die.

-You can have bulimia or anorexia, but not both: A study conducted by the American Journal of Psychiatry in April showed that 36% of patients with anorexia developed bulimia and 27% of people with bulimia developed anorexia, most within 5 years of their first illness.

-Boys don't get eating disorders: Eating disorders aren't biased. They affect boys, girls, and people of all races and backgrounds.

Symptoms and Signs of Eating Disorders

-15% or more under normal (or recommended) weight for the persons height.

-Intense fear of gaining weight

-Distorted body image: A person would see a deformed and distorted reflection in the mirror of their body. Even if the rest of the world does not see them this way.

-Unable to accept compliments.

-Mood is affected by how they think they look.

-Constantly comparing their appearance to others.

-Calling themselves disparaging names often.

-Repeatedly seeking reassurance from others that they look acceptable.

How to prevent eating disorders

-Tell others if you begin to have negative thoughts about yourself or are tempted to start unhealthy eating and exercising habits

-Educate yourself so you know the dangers

-Avoid categorizing foods as "good/safe" vs "bad/dangerous". Remember that everyone needs to eat a balanced variety of foods.

-Challenge the false idea that thinness, weight loss, etc are the only things that lead to happiness and making yourself desirable.

How to get help

If you notice symptoms in yourself, or someone you know, please take the initiative to use one or more of these methods:

-Tell a trusted adult. Parents, coaches, teachers, school counselors, etc.

-Contact the primary care doctor of the patient.

-National Eating Disorders Association's toll-free hotline at 1-800-931-2237 (Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST).

-Visit to find out more.


-University of Maryland Medical Center (

-When the Mirror Lies by Tamra B. Orr