Disordered Eating

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Eating disorders can be very serious and can lead to death. Some people view eating disorders as types of lifestyle choices, but they are actually serious illnesses that involve disturbances in the relationships people have with food. In addition to food relationship disturbances that meet the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders under the DSM-V, disordered eating that does not quite meet the definition is also problematic.

What qualifies as an eating disorder?

When your relationship with food and eating spirals beyond your ability to control it, you may have an eating disorder. There are six primary categories of eating disorders that are recognized by the DSM-V, but disordered eating may still exist even if it does not meet the diagnostic criteria. The six main conditions include:

Anorexia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa



Avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder

Rumination disorder

People who suffer from anorexia nervosa have distorted body images and engage in severe food restriction to the point that they often have very low body weights that can lead to starvation, organ failure or death. Bulimia nervosa refers to a disorder in which sufferers binge-eat. They then feel guilty and purge by forcing themselves to vomit or overexercise to compensate. Bulimia is cyclical in nature. By contrast, binge-eating is a disorder that is characterized by binging on excessive amounts of food, but the sufferers do not purge. They do feel guilt or remorse, however.

Relatively rare, pica is an eating disorder that involves sufferers eating non-foods, such as soil, clay, paper or chalk. Pica usually affects specific groups, including children, pregnant women and people with iron deficiencies. Avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder involves chronically failing to get adequate nutrition. People with the disorder may rely on nutrition supplements and may show serious weight losses or difficulties with gaining weight. Rumination disorder occurs when a person compulsively regurgitates food after swallowing it and then rechews or re-ingests it.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

The most common eating disorder in the U.S., binge eating disorder involves people consuming large amounts of food very quickly. They commonly eat to the point that they feel uncomfortable and experience guilt about consuming the large quantities of food. People who suffer from binge eating disorders binge eat in recurring cycles. In order to meet the diagnostic criteria, the episodes must happen at least twice per week for a period of six months or longer. Unlike bulimia, people who have binge eating disorder do not take compensatory measures afterward, such as purging. They may suffer from obesity and other health side effects as a result.

Why do people develop food and eating issues?

People of all ages and of both genders develop food and eating disorders. They may result from a number of different pressures, including social, biological, psychological and external factors. When these pressures are combined with unrealistic cultural attitudes about body sizes and weights, you may develop disordered eating.

How psychotherapy can help

You should expect psychotherapy for an eating disorder to last for a fairly lengthy period. Unlike other addictions, you will always need to eat food. Recovering from an eating disorder involves changing your perception of food, your body image and your self-esteem. Over time, we will work to help you learn about good nutrition. We will also address the underlying issues that triggered the development of your eating disorder. An important part of the process is helping you to develop a sense of your true identity while you learn to accept and embrace the person who you are.

At Personal Evolution, we are dedicated to helping you on your path to recovery. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and to begin on your journey of renewal.

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