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Everything You Need to Know About Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is defined as a disturbance in eating behavior patterns that endanger a person's physical or psycho-social health. The combined mortality rate from anorexia and bulimia is estimated at 20% of the victims over a period of years.  This is the highest rate mortality for any psychiatric disturbance.

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Anorexia Nervosa - is defined as a person who struggles with body image distortion.  Anorexics pursue thinness without regards to possible emaciation (wasting away) or malnourishment. Anorexia is common among middle to upper class white female adolescents.  Anorexia affects about 1% of the adolescent population which means about 1 in every 200 women.  Men also suffer anorexia; the estimation is 19:1 female to male ratio.  5-10% of diagnosed eating disorders cases are men.

Bulimia - a disorder where sufferers binge or consume large amounts of food in a small amount of time then purge to rid the body of the food.  Bulimia is a disease characterized by compulsive cycles of binging and purging (several times per day) usually accompanied by depression and other psychological disorder. Bulimia is similar to anorexia as they both center around the intense preoccupation with weight and body size as well as dieting and food.  Bulimia is a condition marked by frequent relapses.  Many statistics say while recovery within 4 years is high (approximately 69%), more than half will relapse

Orthorexia Nervosa - an eating disorder described as an unhealthy obsession with healthful eating.  As people become more and more aware of the effects of making healthy choices, some people take it to the extreme and become obsessed.  With orthorexia, the quality of the foods consumed is more important than personal values, personal and social relationships and career plans. Orthorexic individuals adhere to strict dietary philosophies.  Unfortunately, these have the potential to leave out major food components leaving an individual with an unbalanced diet.

Binge eating - often associated with bulimia because of the compulsive overeating.  The overwhelming desire is to consume large amounts of food in short periods of time. Differences in the two stem from the food choices.  Individuals who suffer from bulimia usually choose high fat, caloric dense foods.  Individuals that suffer from binge eating will make healthier food choices, however; they will choose to overeat.  

Fortunately, eating disorders can be managed; however, the individual must realize there is a problem and seek help.  Care plans for individuals with eating disorders include:
  • Close relations with medical doctor (blood work, anthropometrics)
  • Nutritionist or Dietitian (monitor food intake and diet)
  • Behavioral Therapy (dietary counseling and rehabilitation)
  • Therapist (confidential discussion)
  • Group Therapy (camaraderie)
  • Pharmaceutical (medications)
  • Possible inpatient stays (long term health effects)
  • Outpatient follow ups (on the road to recovery)
There are many complications linked to the side effects of the above mentioned eating disorders.  With proper care and follow up these complications can be minimized. If a person refuses help or continues to engage in such activities, the results may lead to death.

Angela Hattaway is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with over 15 years experience. She got her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University and she also has a Master's Degree in Business with an emphasis on Healthcare. Angela is experienced in working with both children and adults and loves working with clients to help them set realistic goals and expectations. She is passionate about nutrition and fitness and feels this comes through when she works with people. Angela loves giving clients the tools, motivation and encouragement they need to be successful throughout their lives. Visit her blog at blog.ultimatenutritionnfitness.com. She can be reached via email at at foodjunkie@nutritionnfitenss.com.


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