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There's More to Eating Disorders Than Just Food

Author: Ivelisse Ginorio student of Master in Clinical Social Work at the University Ana G. Mendez Online Campus

Eating disorders: what are they?

A significant medical condition with a biological component known as an eating disorder causes substantial disruptions in one's eating habits. Although many people may occasionally worry about their health, weight, or looks, some people develop a fixation or obsession with food restriction, weight reduction, and body image. This might indicate an eating disorder. You cannot choose to have an eating disorder. The physical and emotional health of a person may be impacted by these illnesses. Sometimes they might even pose a threat to life. Yet, eating problems are fully reversible with treatment.

Who is susceptible to eating disorders?

People of various ages, racial/ethnic origins, body weights, and genders can develop eating problems. Although eating disorders frequently arise throughout adolescence or early adulthood, they can also present earlier in life or later in life (40 years and older).

Remember: Although appearing healthy, people with eating problems may be quite unwell. Although the specific origin of eating disorders is not entirely known, research indicates that a person's risk may be increased by a variety of genetic, biochemical, behavioral,

psychological, and social variables.

What frequent forms of eating problems are there?

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoidant restricted food intake disorder are examples of common eating disorders. Each of these conditions is linked to a unique set of symptoms, some of which may occasionally coexist. Someone displaying several of these signs may have an eating issue, thus they should be checked by a medical professional.

What is nervosa anorexia?

People with anorexia nervosa forgo food, severely restrict food intake, or consume very little of a select few items. They could also keep weighing themselves. They may perceive themselves as overweight even when they are dangerously underweight. Anorexia nervosa has two subtypes: a restrictive subtype and a binge-purge subtype.

  • Restrictive: Individuals with the anorexia nervosa subtype known as restrictive severely restrict the quantity and variety of food they eat.

  • Binge-Purge: Individuals with the anorexia nervosa subtype of binge purge also severely restrict their food intake. Moreover, individuals might experience bouts of binge eating and purging, where they consume a lot of food quickly and then use laxatives or diuretics to get rid of it.

Anorexia nervosa signs and symptoms include:

  • Severely limiting one's diet and/or engaging in vigorous exercise.

  • excessive thinness (emaciation)

  • an obsession with thinness and a reluctance to keep a healthy weight

  • acute dread of putting on weight

  • impressions of one's body's weight and form have a distorting effect on one's appearance or sense of self.

  • Neglecting the seriousness of being underweight

Nervosa can be lethal due to anorexia. Compared to other mental diseases, it has a very high death (mortality) rate. Anorexics run the danger of passing away from starvation-related medical problems. The second most common cause of mortality for those with anorexia nervosa is suicide.

Bulimia nervosa: What is it?

People with bulimia nervosa have frequent episodes of eating excessive amounts of food and feeling out of control when they eat. Binge eating is followed by compensatory behaviors, such as forced vomiting, excessive laxative or diuretic usage, fasting, excessive exercise, or a mix of these behaviors, to offset the overeating and avoid weight gain. Those with bulimia nervosa, as opposed to individuals with anorexia nervosa, may maintain a normal weight or even be overweight.

Bulimia nervosa signs and health effects include:

  • Often irritated and painful throat.

  • salivary glands that are engorged in the neck and jaw.

  • dental decay and increased sensitivity due to exposure to stomach acid after vomiting, together with worn-down tooth enamel.

  • gastrointestinal issues, including acid reflux disease.

  • Abuse of laxatives causes intestinal discomfort and irritability.

  • severe dehydration as a result of dumping.

  • A stroke or heart attack can result from an electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high amounts of sodium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals).

Binge eating disorder: What is it?

When someone has a binge-eating problem, they frequently have bouts of eating disproportionately huge amounts of food and lose control over their eating. Periods of binge eating are not followed by purging, strenuous exercise, or fasting, unlike bulimia nervosa.

What is the disorder known as avoidant restricted eating?

Limiting the quantity or kind of food consumed is a symptom of avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), formerly known as a selective eating disorder. Those with ARFID do not have distorted body images or a severe fear of gaining weight, in contrast to those with anorexia nervosa. Middle childhood is the most prevalent age for the development of ARFID, which often starts sooner than other eating disorders do. While many kids suffer through moments of fussy eating, an ARFID child or adult does not consume enough calories to sustain fundamental bodily functions or to grow and develop normally.

How are eating disorders treated?

Psychotherapy, medical attention, supervision, dietary counseling, pharmaceuticals, or a mix of these treatments are all included in eating disorder treatment regimens. Common treatment objectives include:

  • restoring a healthy diet

  • maintaining a healthy weight

  • reducing very vigorous exercise

  • Putting an end to binge-purge and binge-eating patterns

  • Individuals with eating disorders may also struggle with other mental illnesses (such as depression or anxiety) or drug abuse issues. All co-occurring disorders must be treated as part of the treatment strategy.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Los Trastornos de la Alimentación: Un problema que va más allá de la comida. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved March 16, 2023, from

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