There are many different types of eating disorders. There are even more reasons people suffer from them. Treatment must be personalized, this is not a one treatment fits all condition. Please keep an eye on your loved ones this holiday season. Armed with knowledge you just might spot some signs and symptoms you haven’t seen before. Here’s your chance to save someones life. Many people think the main cause of these eating disorders is self-esteem. While that is one reason, control is a contender for a cause of them. Not control over other people.They feel the need to feel they have control over themselves or their lives. Many sufferers feel they have no control over their life and the one thing no one or nothing else can control is what they put into their body. Imagine your whole world being what you do and do not put into your mouth? Or perhaps stepping on the scale in upwards of fifty times a day? Pretty rough existence. Now imagine its the holidays, a time where tradition is surrounded by food and meals and drinks.
Different Types of Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa-People with Anorexia Nervosa as with other EDs, are obsessed with weight and what food they allow themselves to ingest. They will even keep their intake on liquids low at times. Another way they try to control their weight is by exercising obsessively. This is a very dangerous combination for every organ, but the heart in particular. The weight they strive to attain is always far below a normal healthy weight. Even when they achieve that weight it is typically not good enough to them. They could weigh as little as 70 pounds and still “see” themselves as “fat”.
Bulimia Nervosa-People who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa typically binge eat and then either force themselves to vomit or go through a period of starvation to make up for the binges. They sometimes have the habit of hoarding food. As with most eating disorders, many people with Bulimia Nervosa do not like to eat in front of others.
EDNOS-Is one of the hardest to spot in a loved one or even a patient. Even if and when these sufferers seek out help they are thought to be making things up or that it is in their head. The reason for this is because they bounce back and forth from traits of one eating disorder to another. They typically are not under or overweight. Because of this they don’t appear to be in crises, so are not immediately admitted for care. Many have died from heart failure and other complications simply because they did not appear to be in crisis. You can read more about this disorder in my article “EDNOS, Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified”
Obesity and Overweight-This is not universally accepted as an eating disorder and it is not typically. There are however, cases where the reason for obesity is because of an obsession with eating and food. More like an addiction I suppose. I’ve seen it first hand. I even have someone very close to me that is actually killing themselves with food. If they were not obsessed/addicted, they would be able to control their eating at least to a degree. They can’t. This person can no longer walk because her small frame cannot carry the weight. She had to be put on oxygen because she can no longer breathe easy on her own due to her weight. She has also had blood sugars in excess of 600 in the past. If this is not an eating disorder, I don’t know what is. Keep in mind, I am not saying all people who are obese have an eating disorder. However, I am saying that when food controls your life to the point that you will die due to it, there is an eating disorder. This is not only my opinion as it is also listed on the
National Eating Disorders website.
Where Help Can be Found For Eating Disorders
On Something Fishy’s website there is a comprehensive listing of where to seek out help during the holidays. People with eating disorders don’t need a holiday to need and receive support. However, the holiday season is a particularly stressful time for those suffering from eating disorders. Here are some links provided by the site:
Mirror Mirror/Holidays-A first person account of what holidays are like when you have an eating disorder. Contains a list of triggers to which I have to add the endless comments about ones weight. Along with this, there is a good list of coping skills that can be used anytime. Also an acrostic poem of coping during the holidays.
Something-Fishy/Holidays-Grounding methods for those whose control is the main issue. There are some things on the list that seem pretty obvious, but remember when ones in a crisis, nothing is obvious. Then there are things on the list I would have never even thought of. Very good list of grounding methods.
Center For Change/Holidays The beginning of this article has true first person stories of what the holidays are like when suffering from an eating disorder. A very important part of this article is about halfway down the page. It is suggestions for family members of people with eating disorders.
Help Guide – An excellent resource with information from A-Z on eating disorders and where to seek help and treatment.
Remember, holidays aren’t the only times people with eating disorders need help, however, it is a very stressful time for them. Holidays may be an easier time to figure out a loved ones secret of having an eating disorder and you can then move on to helping them find the right treatment and find their way to recovery. I think it is very important to seek family counseling when there is a person in the family with an ED. Many families don’t participate because of their fear of getting “blamed” for their loved ones illness. While there are some triggers that may need to be changed within the family structure, there is much more to family council. Any good parent suffers when their child suffers. By seeking out family counseling they can get the help they need to cope with the eating disorder as well. When one person in the family suffers, the whole family suffers. Remember, in this day and age family can be defined in many ways, not just Mom, Dad, child and siblings.