An eating disorder is an unhealthy eating pattern that can develop primarily among women, but is seen in men as well. The combination of cultural messages, (where thin is the only acceptable body size) psychological issues, and low self esteem can set the stage for developing an eating disorder.
Refusal to maintain minimal normal body weight for age and height
Intense fear of weight gain.
Preoccupation with body size; feeling fat or seeing areas of the body as huge, even when very thin.
Absence of at least three menstrual periods (amenorrhea).
Binge eating (consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time, binging at least twice a week for at least three months.)
Feelings of being out of control when eating.
Weight control through
Same as bulimia, except person does not compensate for overeating by purging.
- Weight loss of at least 15% of normal weight, often in a short period of time.
- Loss of menstruation (amenorrhea).
- Abnormal growth of down-soft hair (called lanugo).
- Intolerance to cold - the body's natural insulator, fat, is missing.
- Dizziness and fainting spells.
- Pallor, usually from anemia; dry skin.
- Constipation, due to low calorie and low fiber intake.
- Loss of muscle and other body proteins (insufficient calories).
- Impaired concentration.
- Slowed heart rate and low blood pressure.
- Impaired immune system (lowered resistance to infection).
- Restricted food intake (i.e. dieting or fasting).
- Odd food rituals such as counting food bites, cutting food into tiny pieces, moving food around on the plate without eating it, inflexible and sometimes solitary meal times, preparing food for others but refusing to eat.
- Intense fear of becoming "fat" regardless of low weight.
- Fear of food and avoiding situations where food may be present.
- Hyperactivity and high interest in exercise (anything to burn off calories!)
- Dressing in layers (baggy clothes) to hide wieght loss and to combat sensitivity to cold. Alternatively, flaunting and taking pride in low weight is common to anorexics, who regard weight loss as a distinct achievement, a trademark of their specialness.
- Binge-eating (at least 50% of anorexics have bulimic tendencies).
- Use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, or syrup of ipecac to achieve an empty feeling after eating.
- Regular weighing.
- Severe mood changes, often determined by type and amount of foods eaten.
- Perfectionist standards resulting in insecurities about one's own capabilities.
- Need to be withdrawn and isolated.
- Viewing foods in extremes, for example, as "good" and "bad" according to nutritional descriptions.
- Vegetarianism, unrelated to ideology.
- Distorted body image (seeing skin as fat) and denial that there is an eating problem.
TAKE THIS SHORT QUIZ TO TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF
HEALTHY EATING BEHAVIORS
1. T or F Excessive exercise is an appropriate way to burn off extra calories.
2. T or F Ignoring your hunger signals is not an act of will power.
3. T or F Foods such as cheesecake and French fries should be avoided to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
4. T or F Ignoring your cravings for sweets results in a lower caloric intake.
5. T or F Assumptions about someone’s eating and exercise habits can be made based on their body shape.
6. T or F The keys to healthy eating are moderation, variety, and balance.
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