Updated: Aug 23
When many of us hear the term "eating disorder" we are immediately overwhelmed with confusion, misunderstanding, questions and sympathy. All of us here at Rooted Path can relate to that feeling, and are here to help educate and support you on your healing path. The first step on this path is to understand what an eating disorder or disordered eating actually is.
Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, ethnicities, races, body sizes & shapes, sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses. They are life-threatening regardless of body size (you don’t have to be severely underweight or overweight to be at risk).
Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of mental illnesses, thought to be second only to substance abuse.1 Causes of death from eating disorders include medical complications such as cardiac/other organ failure, complications related to substance abuse, and suicide.2
Putting too much emphasis on healthy foods and lifestyle can develop into an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. It has been said that Americans, in general, have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.3 In this disorder, eating exclusively what one perceives to be “healthy” interferes with one's social life and can negatively impact their physical and/or psychological health.
Some signs of an eating disorder include:
Concerned about body weight or shape
Thinking or speaking about food or “healthy/clean” eating most of the time
Often talking about or on a diet
Increased anxiety or distress exercise is missed
Exercise is increased without increasing food/caloric intake
Loves cooking, but doesn’t eat what they prepare
Eats different “safe” food rather than what family/others are eating
Significant distress when unable to control a situation related to food
Odd behavior around meals - frequently uses the bathroom shortly after eating, has rituals such as cutting food into very small pieces, can only eat alone, etc.
Dealing with food in unhelpful/unhealthful ways such as restricting or avoiding food, vomiting after eating, taking a pill or using exercise to compensate for food consumption, eating past the point of fullness, etc.
Increased depression, anxiety, irritability, and/or fatigue
Overall flat affect/down or alternately, suddenly tons of energy; taking on extra projects, etc.
If you think you might have an eating disorder, please check this link for more resources:
Chesney, E., Goodwin, G.M. and Fazel, S. (2014), Risks of all-cause and suicide mortality in mental disorders: a meta-review. World Psychiatry, 13: 153-160. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20128
Crow, S.J., Peterson, C B., Swanson, S.A., Raymond, N.C., Specker, S., Eckert, E.D., & Mitchell, J.E. (2009). Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166(12), 1342-1346.
Naughton, J. (2014, May 2). Toxic diets – How the die industry is damaging America. Foodservice Consultants Society International. Accessed 5 and 20 February, 2023, https://www.fcsi.org/foodservice-consultant/the-americas/toxic-diets-how-the-diet-industry-is-damaging-america/
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