Frequently asked questions about eating disorders

Eating disorders are much more serious than having breakfast for dinner, though many people seem to take it very lightly – particularly those who do not suffer from such a condition. For the benefit of those people, Discount Medical Supplies presents these frequently asked questions about eating disorders.


Frequently asked questions about eating disorders

1.       What are eating disorders?

They are serious psychological conditions associated with unhealthy eating patterns, most of which revolve around body image (weight and shape) and obsessions with food.

2.       What causes eating disorders?

There is no single known cause of eating disorders, but a few factors seem play a role, such as:

·         Genetic factors.

·         Family history.

·         Mental and emotional health.

·         Social and cultural standards of success and beauty.

·         Peer pressure.

·         Personality traits.

3.       What are the risk factors for eating disorders?

·         Gender (females are 2½ times more likely to develop and eating disorder than males).

·         Age (teens and young adults have a higher risk, though people of all ages may be affected).

·         Depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental illnesses.

·         Dieting.

·         Stress.

·         Sports, work, or artistic activities (athletes, actors, dancers and models may be at higher risk of eating disorders, especially if pushed by parents and/or coaches).

4.       What complications are associated with eating disorders?

  • Medical problems.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Suicidal ideas or attempts.
  • Problems with growth and development.
  • Social and relationship problems.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Work and school issues.
  • Death.

5.       What are the warning signs of eating disorders?

  • A person with an eating disorder may start out eating smaller/larger portions, and eventually lose control of their urge to eat less or more.
  • Skipping meals or making excuses for not eating.
  • Following an overly restrictive vegetarian diet.
  • Excessive focus on healthy eating.
  • Making own meals rather than eating what the family eats.
  • Withdrawal from normal social activities.
  • Persistent worry or complaining about being fat and talk of losing weight.
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws.
  • Repeatedly eating large amounts of sweets or high-fat foods.
  • Use of weight loss dietary supplements, laxatives or herbal products.
  • Excessive exercise
  • Calluses on the knuckles from induced vomit.
  • Loss of tooth enamel may be a sign of repeated vomiting
  • Leaving during meals to use the bathroom.
  • Eating much more food in a meal or snack than considered normal.
  • Expressing depression, disgust, shame or guilt about eating habits.
  • Eating in secret

6.       Which eating disorders are there?

·         Anorexia nervosa.

·         Bulimia nervosa.

·         Binge-eating disorder.

7.       What is anorexia nervosa?

People with this eating disorder often view themselves as overweight even though they are clearly the opposite. They may portion food carefully, eating only very small servings of certain foods, and avoid dairy, meat, or wheat. They may also weight themselves over and over again.

8.       What are the symptoms of anorexia nervosa?

  • Extremely low body weight.
  • Extreme thinness.
  • Emaciation.
  • Severe food restriction.
  • Playing with food.
  • Relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to keep a normal or healthy weight.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight.
  • Distorted body image and self-esteem heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape.
  • A denial of the dangers of low body weight.
  • Lack of menstruation in girls and women.
  • Excessive exercise.
  • Avoiding social activities that involve food.

9.       What are the complications of anorexia?

  • Thinning of the bones.
  • Brittle bones, hair and nails.
  • Swollen joints.
  • Dry, yellowish, easily bruised skin.
  • Growth of fine hair all over the body.
  • Mild anemia, muscle wasting, and weakness.
  • Severe constipation.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Slowed breathing and pulse.
  • Damage to the structure and function of the heart.
  • Brain damage.
  • Multi-organ failure.
  • Kidney stones.
  • Trouble getting pregnant.
  • High risk of miscarriage.
  • Post-partum depression.
  • Low potassium, magnesium, and sodium.
  • Decreased internal body temperature.
  • Lethargy, sluggishness, or fatigue.
  • Infertility.
  • Death from starvation or suicide (anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder).

10.   What is bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge-eating (uncontrollably eating large amounts of food) followed by forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or any combination thereof to make up overeating. While the body weight of people with bulimia can usually be considered normal or healthy, they too dread gaining weight, desperately seek to lose weight, and are wholly unsatisfied with their size and shape. Bulimic behavior is often done in secret amid feelings of disgust and shame.

11.   What are the symptoms of bulimia?

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat.
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw.
  • Broken eye blood vessels.
  • Worn tooth enamel.
  • Increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth from exposure to stomach acid.
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems.
  • Intestinal distress and irritation resulting from laxative abuse.
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids.
  • Electrolyte imbalance that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Avoiding social activities that involve food.

12.   What are the complications of bulimia?

  • Constant stomachache.
  • Damage to the stomach and kidneys.
  • Swollen cheeks or jaw when the salivary glands permanently expand from vomiting so often.
  • Tooth enamel erosion, gum disease.
  • Loss of menstrual periods.
  • Miscarriage.
  • Stillbirth.
  • Gestational diabetes.
  • Loss of potassium (which can contribute to heart problems and even death).

13.   What is binge-eating disorder?

People with this most common of eating disorders in the U.S. lose control of their eating but do not make up for it by engaging in bulimic behavior. Instead, their feelings of guilt, shame, or distress may lead them to more binge-eating. Therefore, they are usually overweight or obese.

14.   What are the symptoms of binge eating disorder?

·         Continuing eating after the person is full or satisfied.

·         Eating inordinately large amounts of food in a specific period of time.

·         Eating fast during binge episodes

·         Eating alone or in secret.

·         Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss.

15.   What are the complications of binge-eating?

·         Diabetes.

·         Heart disease.

16.   How are eating disorders diagnosed?

They are diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria. Additionally, a doctor may perform these tests:

·         Physical exam.

·         Lab tests.

·         Psychological assessment.

17.   How are eating disorders treated?

·         Psychotherapy

-        Individual, group, and/or family therapy.

-        Cognitive behavioral therapy.

·         Medications

-        Antidepressants.

-        Antipsychotics.

-        Mood stabilizers.

·         Weight normalization and nutritional counseling.

·         Reduce stress and anxiety

-         Acupuncture.

-         Massage.

-         Yoga.

-         Meditation.

18.   What is the prognosis for eating disorders?

A person with an eating disorder can get better with the help of doctors, nutritionists, therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.

19.   How can one manage eating disorders?

·         Adhering to a treatment plan.

·         Talking to a doctor about proper vitamin and mineral supplements.

·         Not withdrawing from concerned relatives and friends.

·         Resisting the urge to weigh oneself.

20.   What should you do if you suspect that a friend or relative has an eating disorder?

·         Find a proper time and place to talk with them.

·         Let them know that you’re concerned.

·         Encourage them to see a healthcare professional.

·         Avoid confrontations.

·         Do not blame, shame, or guilt-trip the person.

·         Refrain from offering simple solutions.

·         Show the person your support.

21.   How can parents try to prevent eating disorders in their children?

·         Promoting healthy eating.

·         Avoiding diets.

·         Talking about the risks of unhealthy eating behaviors.

·         Encouraging a healthy and realistic body image.

·         Asking their doctor to talk to the children.


Related: Early symptoms of anorexia nervosa