An eating disorder is a serious mental illness, characterized by eating, exercise and body weight or shape becoming an unhealthy preoccupation of someone’s life.
Eating disorders are a group of problems related to what the person eats. How she values her body and relates to herself, her food and her environment.
Within eating disorders we can find several. For example:
- Rumination Disorder – In this eating disorder, a person voluntarily regurgitates food that he/she has already eaten. The person may re-chew the food, re-swallow the food, or spit the food out. This takes place within the first 30 minutes of eating.
- Diabulimia – is the deliberate underuse of insulin in people with type 1 diabetes for the purpose of weight control.
- Binge eating disorder – they tend to eat large quantities of food in a single sitting, more than an ordinary person would eat in that same situation. Unlike bulimia, however, there is no compensatory behaviors.
- Pica – Pica means regularly eating nonfood substances (except among children under 2 years old, for whom this behavior is common). Clay, paper, paint chips and dirt are examples of what people with pica consume.
- Orthorexia – is an obsession with healthy eating. While it may start out as a person just trying to become healthier, the obsession can lead to some serious negative consequences including malnutrition.
- Anorexia – Is characterized by restricting food intake. This could be limiting oneself to only a particular food, for example carrot sticks, or limiting the amount of food and/or calories that are consumed.
- Bulimia – involves purging food from the body to reduce the number of calories consumed. This purging can take place through compensatory behaviors like vomiting, excessive exercise, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.
The most well-known disorders and those associated with the most problems due to their severity and consequences are anorexia and bulimia.
In eating disorders, weight, body inches, calories, and the balance between what is spent and what is ingested assume a central role in the life of the person. When you have an eating disorder, absolutely everything in life revolves around it.
Everyday situations like getting dressed in the morning, taking a shower, looking in the mirror, preparing food. Or going shopping, taking a walk, exercising or meeting friends become challenges that are often difficult to overcome.
In these disorders, happiness depends on how much you have lost weight, on the calories burned, or on whether you have managed to control yourself by eating. Although this happiness is very fleeting and fragile since they never feel satisfied with what they have achieved and seek more.
An aspect that may go unnoticed but that is very important, is the experience of these people about control in their lives. It is not uncommon to find vital stories where they have felt that chaos has reigned around them.
All of us have the need to control our own life in one way or another. In eating disorders, this control is usually done through food and the body itself. This exaggerated way of trying to maintain control often has the opposite effect. So we find episodes of lack of control in the form of anxiety attacks, binges or self-harm.
To overcome a disorder of this type, the help of a professional is necessary. Let’s not forget that they are characterized by having associated behaviors that occur in almost every moment of our daily lives. Therefore, if they are not controlled, they can be very harmful to our physical health as well as our mental health.
- Eating disorders and substance use disorders such as alcohol and drug abuse are many times intertwined. Learn more about La Jolla Recovery’s dedication to alcohol treatment in San Diego.