National Eating Disorder Awareness Week ’22

February 21st - 27th is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

As someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, it can sometimes be unclear if you should seek professional help. As a loved one of someone who may have an eating disorder it can be hard to see the warning signs. Morningstar Counseling has put together this resource to help those who may be hurting.

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The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) lays out 5 primary types of eating disorders. No two people may experience an eating disorder in the same way and yet, these disorders have one thing in common. Although you can sometimes see their physical effects taking a toll on a persons outwards appearance, eating disorders are a mental illness. The full effects of which may not always be present on the surface. Here are the 5 primary eating disorders and signs to watch for. Doing so can help a loved one up out of hardship and isolation caused by these disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

Is the inability to consume adequate nutrition leading to low body weight and failure to meet growth trajectories. Accompanying mental effects may be a fear of food, weight gain and a disturbance in body perception.

Warning signs include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Distortion of body image
  • Over-exercising
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Misuse of diuretics, diet pills or laxatives

Bulimia Nervosa

Manifests itself as binge eating episodes followed by purging via laxatives, diuretics or vomiting. Those struggling with Bulimia Nervosa are influenced by a distorted body image of themselves reliant on body weight and shape.

Warning signs include:

  • Frequently and repetitively eating large quantities of food
  • Leaving for the bathroom immediately after eating
  • Swollen cheeks from self-induced vomiting
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes
  • Misuse of diuretics, diet pills or laxatives

Binge Eating Disorder

Is binge eating episodes accompanied by marked distress and an absence of compensatory behaviors such as purging seen in other disorders.

Warning signs include:

  • Excessive food consumptions in the absence of hunger
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Using food to cope with negative emotions but instead
  • Feelings of loss of control, self-loathing, depression, anxiety or shame

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is the failure to meet nutritional and energy intake needs because of an eating or feeding disturbance. This is associated with weight loss, nutritional deficiency or a failure to meet growth trajectories.

Warning signs include:

  • Lack of appetite or interest in food
  • Gastrointestinal issues with seemingly no cause
  • Fear of illness, choking or vomiting
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • No body image concerns

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

A struggle with food not captured by the criteria of another eating disorder diagnoses. This can manifest itself in many different ways but is most commonly seen as:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa where weight is not below normal
  • Bulimia Nervosa with less frequent behaviors
  • Binge eating disorder with less frequent occurrences
  • Purging disorder where purging occurs without binge eating
  • Night eating syndrome (excessive night time food consumption)

If you are reading this and think you might be struggling with an eating disorder, take a few minutes and go through the SCOFF questionaire below. The SCOFF questionnaire is used to screen for eating disorders so that those who may be struggling can begin to seek help.

  1. Do you feel like you sometimes lose or have lost control over how you eat?
  2. Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  3. Do you believe yourself to be fat, even when others say you are too thin?
  4. Do food or thoughts about food dominate your life?
  5. Do thoughts about changing your body and/or your weight dominate your life?
  6. Have others become worried about your weight and/or eating?

If you answered “yes” to two or more of these questions, we strongly suggest seeking treatment for a possible eating disorder.

Enduring any type of mental illness can make you feel isolated and alone and we can sometimes question whether or not our problems are bad enough to reach out for help. Eating disorders are serious and can twist our perceptions of reality. If you think you have seen some of the above warning signs in a friend or loved one, please do not be afraid to ask about them. That could be the action that saves a life and puts someone on the road to recovery. If you think YOU may be battling an eating disorder, there is a way to recovery and resources to offer hope and healing.

We Are Here To Help

If you think you or a loved one are needing help with anything above please reach out.