Eating disorders can come in many different forms, and understanding the complexities involved is likely why events such as National Eating Disorder Week exists from Feb. 22-26.
While eating disorders don’t all look alike, there are generally three different types:
- Anorexia nervosa: People who are anorexic limit the amount of food they eat so they can be thinner.
- Bulimia nervosa: People who suffer from bulimia will often eat a regular amount of food, or even binge eat, but then will induce vomiting.
- Binge-eating disorder: People who binge-eat will consume a lot of food very quickly, and it’s normally a larger amount than people would typically eat.
Eating disorders are often seen as something from which teenage girls suffer, with the idea that it goes away after high school, but the disease is far more prevalent than most might imagine.
In fact, 28.8 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder in their life, and it doesn’t matter what the person’s age or gender is. All types of people suffer from eating disorders, and behind opioid overdoses, it’s the second deadliest mental illness, with about 10,200 deaths each year.
Recognizing that a loved one has an eating disorder can be hard, but there are signs to look for: food rituals, unusual eating habits, extreme obsession with body size and losing weight. Combine that with extreme noticeable weight loss and fatigue, and that person may be suffering from an eating disorder.
So what can you do? Be supportive, encouraging and let them know you want the best for them.
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