About Food, Weight and

Body Image Disturbances

Eating disorders are painful in many different ways. These disorders are present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating and/or exercise or compensatory behaviors. It may involve a significant reduction in food intake or overeating behavior, or feelings of distress or concern about body weight, size or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, and then at some point the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are complex and may involve several underlying psychological, social and emotional factors along with obsessional thinking about food, weight or exercise.

The following are a list of eating disorders and some of the marked symptoms and complications found:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
  • Medical complications such as weakening of the bones, brittle hair/skin, anemia, weakness, GI issues, Low blood pressure.

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone.
  • Rapid eating behavior.
  • Feelings of disgust, shame or depression.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Medical complications may include swollen glands, dental complications, GI issues, kidney issues, and dehydration.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

(Described as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in DSM-IV)

  • A feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.
  • Examples include:
    • Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
    • Bulimia nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)
    • Binge-eating disorder (with less frequent occurrences)
    • Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
    • Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)
    • Other known eating disorders may include Pica, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) and Rumination Disorder.

Psychological and medicinal treatments are effective for treatment of most eating disorders and are encouraged to begin at the sign of any problematic behavior. Other areas of clinical concern commonly found are substance abuse, trauma, obsessional thinking and family conflict.

Treatment is often are tailored to the patient’s individual needs that may include medical care and monitoring; medications; nutritional counseling; and individual, group and/or family psychotherapy. Some patients may also need to be hospitalized to treat malnutrition or to gain weight, or for other reasons including medical complications.