Its important to take a closer look at eating disorders and learn the difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, because they are two different things.
As a society, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to look, act, and feel a certain way. With the infiltration of, and our obsession with, social media, we are subconsciously (and even sometimes knowingly) comparing ourselves to a perceived image of perfection.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), many individuals struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. And, the best-known contributor to the development of anorexia and bulimia is body dissatisfaction.
Psychology Today reports that up to 50 percent of the U.S. population has experienced some sort of disordered relationship with food, body and exercise. Given that nearly half of Americans are struggling with food issues, makes it even more important to talk about the differences between eating disorders and disordered eating.
Do You Know the Difference?
Eating Disorders include psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits, including extreme emotions and attitudes as well as behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.
Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
Disordered Eating includes behavior commonly associated with eating disorders, such as, food restriction, binge eating, feelings of guilt when unable to maintain healthy eating/exercise habits, and yo-yo dieting.
It’s important to note that while individuals with eating disorders may show signs of disordered eating, not all disordered eaters are diagnosed with or have an eating disorder.
When is it time to call a doctor?
While nearly 30 million people in the U.S. battle an eating disorder and 50 percent suffer from disordered eating, the numbers are suspected to be far greater because so few seek treatment. Following are some warning signs that it’s time to seek help:
- Showing signs of anorexia, including rapid weight loss, eating very little, and being overly concerned about weight and appearance
- Fearful of gaining even a small amount of weight
- Being secretive or lying about eating habits
- Feeling the need to exercise excessively, especially after meals
- Abusing laxatives/diuretics, or vomiting voluntarily
- Excessive and uncontrollable eating
- Family Matters
Positive communication is critical for making a change. One thing we know about families dealing with mental health disorders is that somewhere along the way, communication collapses. When one person in a family behaves in a way that harms others despite their hopes, expectations and previously understood norms, it can cause an entire family to crumble.
At Sierra Tucson, we believe that family involvement is a fundamental part of the recovery process. Because we know that friends and family members are considerably affected by a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder or any other mental health challenge, their participation is an essential component of our comprehensive treatment programs. Our Sierra Tucson Family Program is available for all family members age 18 and older. The goal of this program is to create a shift in attitudes and behaviors among family members, and provide them with the tools needed to become healthy, supportive figures.