You’ve likely heard about anorexia and bulimia. But there are other types of eating disorders that may affect you or those you love. It’s important to address an eating disorder as soon as possible, to reduce the long-term effects on your health. Christian counseling can help you recover from the effects of your eating disorder, so you can be restored to health.
Types of Eating Disorders
Disruptive or abnormal eating habits are key factors in diagnosing an eating disorder. People with these disorders tend to have distorted body images and related emotional problems, often deeply rooted in their past. Left unaddressed, these disorders can lead to serious health problems or even death.
We will address these common types of eating disorders today:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Compulsive Eating Disorder
By looking at these main categories, you may see signs that you are suffering from one or more of these disorders. Treatment is essential for overcoming these problems, and a compassionate Christian counselor can help you choose hope and freedom again.
People with this eating disorder make a drastic reduction in their food intake in proportion to their body weight. For example, a 100-pound woman may eat only one small meal per day, not even enough to sustain a toddler.
Those who suffer from anorexia often have extremely low body weight along with an intense fear of getting fat or gaining any weight. They have a severely distorted mental image of their bodies. Though they may be very underweight for their build and height, they might still see themselves as grossly overweight.Anorexia causes people to practice behavior that interferes with gaining proper weight. They may monitor their weight obsessively, severely restrict calories or completely avoid entire categories of food. Their focused goal is to be thin, and they resist maintaining a healthy weight according to medical standards.
Anorexia sufferers are caught in a trap of denial about being underweight to the point of danger. Their self-esteem is wrapped up in their obsession with being thin, and it’s often thinner than most people would consider healthy.
Another disorder that can cross over with anorexia is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Anorexia suffers are often preoccupied with thoughts on food, which drives them to hoard certain foods or obsessively collect recipes.
Eating in public can be a huge struggle because they often seek excessive control over their environment, particularly when it comes to eating. Fasting and dieting are not the only techniques anorexics use to control their weight. They may also sometimes practice bingeing then purging through vomiting, excessive use of diuretics, or intense exercise.
Many anorexics suffer from malnutrition due to their excessive food restrictions. This malnutrition can be very damaging to internal organs, tissues, bones, and the reproductive system. Anorexic sufferers may notice physical symptoms like brittle hair and nails, a layer of fine hair growth on their bodies, bone breakage and thinness that can lead to osteoporosis, and missed periods or infertility.
Left untreated, anorexia can lead to organ failure or death. However, treatment programs can pave the pathway back to life and health.
People who suffer from bulimia nervosa eat large amounts of food in short periods of time. During binge episodes, they may not feel in control of the amount of food they eat and may not stop until they are uncomfortably full. Most of the time, the food eaten during a binge is food the person would not normally eat.
Bulimia sufferers employ recurrent and self-destructive techniques to offset the binges and avoid gaining weight. They may use self-induced vomiting, abuse of diuretics or laxatives, inappropriate fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of methods. A diagnosis of bulimia is made when someone has a three-month cycle of using binges and compensatory behaviors at least once per week.People who are bulimic suffer from an intense fear of gaining weight and a heavily distorted body image. This disorder often develops during adolescence due to internal and external pressures. In contrast with those who suffer from anorexia, bulimics often maintain normal body weight.
There are several negative side effects from frequent vomiting. These include inflammation in the throat and gastrointestinal tract, acid reflux, swelling of salivary glands, disrupted hormones, severe dehydration, and serious tooth decay. In some cases, bulimics may experience an imbalance in electrolytes, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. With such risks, it’s important to get help as soon as possible.
Binge Eating Disorder
This is one of the most common eating disorders in the U.S., yet often goes unacknowledged by those who suffer from it. People with this disorder tend to eat significant amounts of food in brief periods and often feel out of control regarding how much they eat during binges.
It’s common for this disorder to develop during adolescence, as with anorexia and bulimia. However, people with Binge Eating Disorder do not normally restrict calories, nor do they use purging techniques. They often eat in secret, and when they are not hungry. When they binge, they eat to the point of being painfully full. After bingeing, people with this disorder often feel ashamed, guilty, or disgusted, which can lead them to binge again to relieve those feelings.
People with Binge Eating Disorder are often overweight or obese. Their excessive weight can lead to many health problems, including shortness of breath, joint pain, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, strokes, heart attacks, or death.
Compulsive Eating Disorder
This categorization covers many different types of eating disorders, including hiding food, stress eating, emotional eating, night eating, eating on impulse, or eating from the garbage. There are many contributing factors to these behaviors, but the common thread is a lack of control during the episode.
A diagnosis of Compulsive Eating Disorder depends on a pattern of behavior with at least one episode per week over three months. People with these disorders often eat alone due to guilt and shame, and they also may eat rapidly until they are uncomfortably full.
Other emotional issues often come into play, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression. People often use food to cope with these problems. Another reason people may engage in these behaviors is boredom or a mindless habit. A caring counselor can help you discover the reasons behind your Compulsive Eating Disorder, and work to overcome it.
Eating Disorder Treatments
Depending on the type of eating disorder you have and the severity of the disease, there are specific treatments for the problems you are facing. We start with a diagnosis to determine the route of treatment, and restoration of your physical health is the priority. We will work with medical doctors to get your health where it needs to be while addressing mental, emotional, and spiritual issues.
Cognitive therapies will help you establish a healthy body image, respond in new ways to triggers, and gain control over your behaviors. We can help you break the cycle of compensatory behaviors and gain the freedom available to you in Christ.
Talk therapy will help you manage stress, regulate your emotions and practice mindfulness when eating. We will also help you deal with any unhealed issues in your past that are contributing to the problems you face today. Over time, you will learn to engage with life in a new, healthy, and authentic way that flows from a fresh set of core values, redeemed by God.
It can be difficult to overcome these different types of eating disorders on your own. Our team of Christian counselors is ready to help you today.
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