Eating disorders – Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating, Bulimia Nervosa – all are thought to be strictly in the domain of teenage girls who want to look like the models on the covers of the glossy magazines, but you might be surprised to hear that eating disorders affect women, men and boys too.
Eating disorders aren’t really about eating! Well, eating (or not eating) is the symptom of the illness, but that really isn’t the cause.
Anorexia Nervosa – or “slimmers disease” as it is also known, is probably the most recognized eating disorder, with sufferers having an intense fear of gaining weight, often thinking of themselves as fat, even when they are so emaciated that you can count their ribs. This is a serious mental condition. As well as severely limiting their food intake, they will often couple that with an intense exercise regime to make doubly sure that they lose weight. Very often the symptoms of anorexia nervosa will start gradually, with a diet for example, but then spiral out of control. Sufferers of anorexia nervosa will often become completely obsessed with food and calorie counting, even though they have no intention of eating it.
Binge Eating – if you are obese or heavily overweight it doesn’t necessarily follow that you have a binge eating disorder, but if you have a binge eating disorder, the chances are that you will be overweight. To be honest, lots of us overdo things from time to time, you know the sort of thing, when you just feel like you could eat and eat and eat, so you do, and then you feel so full that you can’t move for hours. Well, that doesn’t mean that you have a binge eating disorder, but if you do any of the following then you might have a real problem:
- eat much quicker than you usually do, while you are binging
- eat and eat until you are uncomfortably full
- eat piles of food, even if you’re not hungry
- only eat alone, so that no-one else can see how much food you eat because you’re embarrassed about it
- end up feeling guilty and disgusted with yourself at what you’ve just done
Binge eating is actually the most common eating disorder, which most commonly affects men and women aged between 46 and 55. Binge eating is often associated with depression, but whether the depression causes the binging, or the binging causes the depression is often unclear. Many people who suffer from binge eating also say that they feel sad, bored, lonely, stressed or worried.
Bulimia Nervosa – this eating disorder is kind of like binge eating with a difference, because once they’ve eaten all of the food they embark on such a guilt trip that they’ll do anything they can to get rid of the food from their bodies – inducing vomiting or using laxatives, followed by fasting and doing extremely strenuous exercise after a binge. A repeated cycle of binge eating, purging, fasting and over exercise is a very dangerous method of weight control.