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What is an Eating Disorder?Today’s culture makes it really difficult to know what is healthy and what is not when it comes to food, relationships, our bodies, and movement. How are you supposed to know what a healthy relationship with food, your body, and movement looks like when so much of the information that you are being given is inaccurate or misleading?

Eating disorders can happen to anyone at any age, gender, or socio-economic level. Often there is a myth that eating disorders only impact women around college age or younger, but that is not true. There is help for anyone who has an eating disorder. Some of the common themes with all eating disorders are:

  • The individual’s relationship with food is strained. Some individuals with eating disorders report that everything regarding food is very restrictive and rigid, while other individuals report feeling out of control while eating.
  • The person’s perception of their body is impacted based on their relationship with food and movement. Many times, individuals are not able to accurately view and perceive their body, which results in significant body image disturbances.
  • Their relationship with food, their body and movement start to impact their relationship with people in their life. Loved ones will often feel helpless because they want to help but feel like they are unable to do so due to an individual’s own denial or resistance to change the relationship that they have with their body.

There are a variety of eating disorders which include behaviors such as restriction of food, bingeing, purging, compulsive exercise, laxative abuse, and diet pill abuse. The different types of eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia nervosa: which includes extreme weight loss through the restriction of food and/or compensatory behaviors which would also result in an attempt to manipulate the body
  • Bulimia nervosa: which includes the use of binging behaviors paired with compensatory behaviors following a binge, again in an attempt to manipulate the body
  • Binge eating: which includes the use of binging behaviors that often feels out of control for the individual
  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): which includes avoidance or restriction of food which impacts the individual’s ability to provide themselves with appropriate nourishment; often times the issues begin in early childhood and persist through adulthood
  • Other specified eating or feeding disorder (OSFED): which involves individuals that meet a combination of criteria for different eating disorders

If you’re concerned that you or someone you love may have an eating disorder, there is support out there! There are therapists, psychiatrists, physicians, and dietitians who are trained specialists for eating disorders.

At Alsana, we provide a weekly online support group (free online support group/) that is a great starting place for people who may have concerns. We also have relationships with individual outpatient providers across the nation. For help, please reach out to one of our compassionate admissions counselors. They will help you get started in the eating disorder treatment process for healing!

 

Lolly Wool, M.Ed., LPC, NCC – Lead Therapist for Residential

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