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Disordered Eating

Disordered Eating

Every 62 minutes someone in the US dies as a result of complications from an eating disorder.  Eating disorders effect all races and ethnic groups.  Men and women both experience eating disorders; however, a greater number of women are diagnosed with eating disorders.  These statistics could be influenced by a number of factors including media influence, cultural stereotypes, and willingness to report/seek help.  We do know that eating disorders are a persistent and growing concern in our community, and symptoms are often present starting in adolescents.

There are several types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa (or restrictive eating patterns), bulimia nervosa (purging patterns), and binge eating disorder (patterns of overeating).  It is important to note that there are many other disordered eating patterns.  These patterns become disorders that need clinical treatment when the patterns impede daily functioning, get in the way of normal developmental tasks, are self-harming, and present great risk to the well-being of the person.  Medical complications present imminent risk and occur when individuals are using extreme means to manipulate weight such as excessive exercise, abusing laxatives, self-induced vomiting, as well as using food manage emotional needs like in over or under eating.  It is important to seek help from a medical and mental health professional if any of these are present.  Best practices for health care would include working collaboratively with a medical provider, therapist, and nutritionist to safely change behaviors.

It is also important to note that disordered eating occurs on a spectrum from normative eating with a healthy body image to disordered patterns of eating and finally ending in a clinical eating disorder.  Many adolescents and adults report struggling with body image, preoccupation with weight, and have a history of dieting.  These patterns of behavior are important to be aware of and may be an ideal time for individuals to seek help.  Therapy and professional counseling can help support individuals with creating a healthier body image and nutritional therapy can help create healthier patterns of eating.

If you or someone you know is struggling with disordered eating, reach out to a local resource for support.  ​All this information may feel overwhelming and confusing.  The most important thing to remember is that you do not have to be alone in solving this problem.  There are people to help you feel comfortable in your own skin and confident in navigating life’s challenges with safety and compassion for yourself.

Helpful Resources:

Veritas Collaborative (Residential and Acute Care)
Chrysalis Center ( Intensive Outpatient Program)
National Eating Disorder Association

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