National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Feb. 23 to March 1
Our society holds women to a beauty standard that is unattainable. Magazines and social media portray how a beautiful woman “should” look using retouched images of extremely thin women. When young women compare themselves to these images, they may start to develop unhealthy eating habits to reach this ideal.
Many people think that individuals with eating disorders choose to be that way. In actuality, eating disorders are serious illnesses. According to the Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED) website, more than 8 million people have an eating disorder. It’s important to know if someone around you is suffering from an eating disorder and when it’s time to seek help.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are identified by irregular eating habits accompanied by extreme behaviors, attitudes and emotions toward weight and food issues. These behaviors can include too little or too much food intake as well as obsessions with food and weight.
Eating disorders can develop at any point in life, and the highest risk is during teenage years. They affect both men and women; however, women are more than twice as likely to develop an eating disorder than men. Additionally, it’s very common for eating disorders to coexist with other psychiatric conditions, like anxiety or depression.
Types of eating disorders
The most common types of eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa.
Most often characterized as self-starvation and excessive weight loss.
- Bulimia nervosa.
Includes binge eating followed by behaviors to compensate for eating too much using techniques such as purging. Individuals with bulimia typically maintain a healthy weight.
- Binge-eating disorder.
Individuals experience episodes of binging on large quantities of food, often until a point where the person is uncomfortably full. Someone with binge-eating disorder may be overweight.
Less common eating disorders include:
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.
Food avoidance based on a bad experience with food.
Eating substances that are not actually food, like hair or paint chips.
- Rumination disorder.
Repeated regurgitation and re-swallowing of food.
- Unspecified feeding or eating disorder.
Eating disorders that disrupt functioning, but don’t fit the criteria of other disorders.
Understanding the signs and symptoms and raising awareness for the different eating disorders can help keep those around you safe. Keep in mind that a physician can treat these conditions. It’s important to know that if the disorder isn’t addressed, it can become extremely dangerous and even fatal.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a nationally recognized annual event. This year’s theme is, “It’s time to talk about it,” and the focus is for society to start seeing and treating eating disorders as public health concerns, rejecting stigmas and encouraging people to get screened and seek help.
If you believe that you or someone around you could be suffering from an eating disorder, it’s important to get professional help immediately. Asking for help can be the hardest part of starting the recovery process, but it’s necessary in order to get better. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides information and resources to help you further understand eating disorders. Let those close to you know that they don’t have to suffer alone. Learn more, get screened or get involved in raising awareness for eating disorders.
Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center has physicians who are trained to help individuals cope with eating disorders. Visit any of our walk-in clinics today to get immediate help.
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