Nearly all of us have been affected by eating disorders through family, friends or loved ones or know someone who has been. Women dealing with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder use food to cope with the emotions and fears that seem overwhelming to them. Whether by not eating, bingeing or purging, the manipulation of food can be self-soothing for women with eating disorders and provide a distraction from the problems in their lives. Many symptoms of eating disorders are similar from woman to woman. An important distinction is that while the symptoms are similar, the emotional factors underlying the development of an eating disorder are different for every woman. Understanding this distinction can be critical when seeking eating disorder treatment since many women are also dealing with other issues like major depression. Three of the most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder.
Women with anorexia will starve themselves to the point of becoming very thin, while they are preoccupied with thoughts of body weight, food, calories and exercise. Women with anorexia also struggle with an intense fear of gaining weight and many times will diet obsessively. Often, women with anorexia eat only very small amounts of food and will weigh themselves repeatedly.
When dealing with bulimia, many women follow strict diets and will use the restroom during or immediately after meals. Women with bulimia consume large amounts of food and then purge. Purging behavior can include vomiting, fasting, over-exercising or using laxatives or diuretics. Bulimics often become increasingly secretive and often use long showers to cover purging behavior. Many women with bulimia will also experience mood swings.
Women with binge eating disorder eat large amounts of food in short amounts of time. Binge eaters often skip breakfast then eat larger meals for lunch and dinner. Those with binge eating disorder usually eat quickly and will eat late night meals mostly containing sweets and carbohydrates. Binge eaters may talk about strictly dieting, but in the end are not able to stop the binge eating behavior themselves.