eating disorder signs

What Qualifies as an Eating Disorder?

Many people suffer from eating disorders in America; statistics show that more than 28 million Americans will have an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Eating disorders result from persistent behavior that can negatively affect your health, emotional state, and ability to thrive. Most eating disorders stem from unhealthy attention to one’s weight, achieving a specific body type, or their relationship with food.

If eating disorders are left untreated, they can negatively affect your heart health, digestive tract, your bones, and teeth and even lead to other diseases. However, if a patient participates in treatment, these adverse health conditions can be improved, and sometimes even reversed; as they strengthen their relationship with food and their body and allow time for their body to heal.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, the best place to start is by educating yourself on how and why these conditions exist. Today we will explore a few of the most common eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

This serious eating disorder is typically associated with abnormally low body weight, fear of gaining weight, and distorted perception of weight or shape. Patients with anorexia often take extreme measures to control their weight and shape. It’s common for patients with anorexia to excessively limit their calories or use other methods to lose weight. Often these measures include unnecessary use of laxatives, extreme exercise, and continuing to try to lose weight even when they are severely underweight. This can cause various health problems and, unfortunately, can even be life-threatening.

Binge Eating

Patients suffering from binge-eating disorder regularly eat too much and often feel a lack of control over their eating. Common symptoms include eating quickly or eating more food than intended, even when they are not hungry, and they may continue eating long after they are uncomfortably full. Unfortunately, after a binge, patients often describe feeling guilty or disgusted and even ashamed of their behavior and the amount of food eaten. Most patients who suffer from binge eating alone will not try to overcompensate for their overeating by over-exercising. However, they often experience extreme embarrassment, leading to eating alone and hiding their binging. Patients with a binge eating disorder tend to have at least one binge eating episode weekly and can be an average weight or obese.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is also extremely common. Most commonly identified with binging and purging. Typically patients with Bulimia describe a feeling that they have a lack of control over their eating. Many people with Bulimia also restrict their eating, leading to more purging, resulting in hunger and of course more eating. Typically, patients with Bulimia will eat a large amount of food in a short time and then try to rid themselves of the calories in an unhealthy way.

Many patients who suffer from this disorder struggle with feelings of guilt and shame and intense fear of weight gain from overeating. Some will force vomiting, and others use laxatives or exercise too much to get rid of the calories. Patients with Bulimia often find themselves preoccupied with their body weight or shape. Unfortunately, they might have an unhealthy focus on self-perceived flaws and judge themselves harshly in a self-punishing way. Bulimia is a serious condition and should be treated as such.


This umbrella term can describe various other types of eating disorders. Including but not limited to Pica, Rumination Disorder, Avoidant/Restrictive intake disorder, or more. There are many reasons our self-image, body image, or relationship with food can become damaged. As individuals, we are all affected by many factors, from genetics to environment and even trauma. When we develop an unhealthy eating habit or relationship with food, it can seriously affect our health.

Where To Learn More

If you or someone you know is looking for eating disorder help, or is exhibiting eating disorder symptoms, speaking with your doctor or a licensed therapist or counselor that specializes in treating eating disorders can be very helpful. It can be tough to take the first step, and no one can take it for you. But it’s the most important step in your healing journey.

Eating disorders can affect our physical and mental health, and patients who seek treatment for physical and psychological health often find success with treatment. Collective Counseling Services has a wide selection of licensed therapists available to help patients get the help they need. Contact us today to learn more.

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