Awareness of Common Eating Disorders: Highlight on Binge-Eating
It is important to become aware of the warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).
Some signs of an eating disorder may include:
- Changes in food intake, resulting in significant/ dramatic changes in weight loss or gain
- Purging, binging or restricting
- Abuse of laxatives or diet pills
- Medical complications such as gastrointestinal issues, irregular menstruation dizziness/ fainting, dry skin/ nails, bone or muscle loss, anemia, and heart problems
For statistics and research on eating disorders, check out https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders.
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, impacting all racial and ethnic groups. Binge eating differs from bulimia nervosa. Measures to prevent weight gain are routinely used in bulimia; whereas these are occasionally used in binge eating. Binge eating disorder is widespread and considered three times more common than anorexia and bulimia combined.
In bulimia, symptoms include preoccupation with body weight and shape and fear of gaining weight. Food is repeatedly eaten in large amounts in one sitting (often in secret). The individual feels a loss of control over overeating patterns. Compensatory behaviors including purging to get rid of extra calories (e.g., self-induced vomiting, weight loss supplements, diuretics, or enemas) are used. There may be fasting, strict dieting or excessive exercise may be present between binges.
In binge eating, food is recurringly consumed in large quantities in a short period of time until the individual is uncomfortably full. There are often fluctuations in weight and the need to control and lose weight.
Eating disorders affect bodies of every size; assuming bodies are healthy or unhealthy based on size alone can perpetuate biases and interfere with providing compassionate care. It is recommended that providers routinely ask questions to help explore patients’ relationship with food and assess for patterns of disordered eating.
- Talk to your primary care provider and seek medical attention for concerns. There are serious complications that can develop from eating disorders and some of these can be life-threatening and lead to problems such as heart or liver failure.
- Talk to a mental health specialist about your relationship with food and feelings such as guilt and shame surrounding eating. A therapist can also work with emotional and behavioral concerns such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance use. They can also assist with specialty referrals, if needed.
Early intervention is key since the sooner one can get treatment, the faster the recovery. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please reach out.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC