Looking in the Mirror
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What is an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are real, serious, complex illnesses that cause severe harm, and can be deadly. Fortunately, they are treatable. Like schizophrenia or diabetes, eating disorders are not a “choice,” “fad,” or “phase.” A person can have more than one eating disorder at the same time. These disorders are also more prevalent than many people realize.
Recovery is possible. There is help. There is hope.
Eating disorders affect a person physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically including:
- Dramatic weight gain or loss
- Verbal preoccupation with food, weight, and shape
- Rapid or persistent decline or increase in food intake
- Excessive or compulsive exercise patterns
- Purging; restricting; binge eating; compulsive eating; abuse of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or emetics
- Denial of food and eating problems, despite the concerns of others
- Eating in secret, hiding food, disrupting meals, feeling out of control with food
- Medical complications, such as menstrual irregularity, dizziness, fainting, bruising, dry skin, leg cramps, hair loss, brittle hair, osteoporosis, diarrhea, constipation, dental problems, morbid obesity, diabetes, chest pain, heart disease, heartburn, shortness of breath, organ failure, and other symptoms
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes three kinds of eating disorders:
Everyone Has a Unique Relationship With Their Body
Recognizing When You Need Help
- Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
- Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a 3 month period?
- Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
- Would you say that food dominates your life?
In this informal survey, 2 or more "yes" answers strongly indicate the presence of disordered eating. Questions take from the Scoff Questionnaire.
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