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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: An Eating Disorder Break Down

This week marks National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which runs from Monday, February 26th to Sunday, March 4th. The theme of this year’s week, according to the National Eating Disorders Association is “let’s get real,” and the goal is “to expand the conversation and highlight stories we don’t often hear.”

Eating disorders are a range of conditions expressed through abnormal or disturbed eating habits. These conditions stem from an obsession with food, body weight or body shape. Eating disorders typically result in health consequences and can even result in death.

At least 30 million people of all ages and genders in the United States suffer from an eating disorder, and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder, according to ANAD. These statistics are horrifying and depressing, to say the least.

Throughout this week, Her Campus TCNJ will bring attention to and create a conversation around eating disorders. To begin, here are some of the most common eating disorders and information regarding their symptoms and warning signs:

1. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa typically develops during adolescence or young adulthood and affects more women than men. People who have anorexia generally view themselves as overweight and tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain foods or severely restrict their calories.

The following are common symptoms of anorexia nervosa: having very restricted eating patterns, being considerably underweight compared to people of similar age and height, having a fear of gaining weight or having persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, having heavy influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem, having a distorted body image – including denial of being seriously underweight, etc.

Individuals with anorexia nervosa may have difficulty eating in public or have a strong desire to control their environment, limiting their ability to be spontaneous.

Anorexia is categorized into two subtypes – the restricting and the binge eating and purging type.

Restricting type – individuals with the restricting type lose weight solely through dieting, fasting or excessive exercise.

Binge eating and purging type – individuals with the binge eating and purging type often binge on large amounts of food or eat little to no food. In both cases, after they eat, they purge with activities including exercising excessively, vomiting, or taking laxatives or diuretics.

Source: Healthline

2. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia also tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood and appears to be more common among women. People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large amounts of food in a short period, and then attempt to purge to compensate for the calories consumed and relieve the discomfort in their stomach. Common purging behaviors include forced vomiting, fasting, laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and excessive exercise.

Symptoms appear to be very similar to the binge eating and purging subtype of anorexia nervosa. However, individuals with bulimia usually keep a relatively normal weight.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include: recurrent episodes of binge eating with a lack of control, recurrent episodes of inappropriate purging behaviors to prevent weight gain, a self-esteem overly influenced by body shape and weight, a fear of gaining weight despite having a normal weight, etc.

Source: Healthline

3. Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is currently believed to be one of the most common eating disorders, especially in the U.S. This disorder usually begins during adolescence and early adulthood and individuals with this disorder have similar symptoms to those with bulimia or the binge eating subtype of anorexia – they typically eat unusually large amounts of food in short periods of time and feel a lack of control during binges.

Contrary to the two previous disorders, people with binge eating disorder do not resist calories or use purging behaviors such as vomiting or excessive exercise to compensate for their binges.

Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include: eating large amounts of food rapidly in secret and until uncomfortably full (despite not feeling hungry), feeling a lack of control during episodes of binge eating, feelings of distress – such as shame, disgust or guilt – when thinking about the binge eating behavior, no use of purging behaviors, etc.

Source: Healthline

Knowing the signs and symptoms of these eating disorders can aide you in determining if you, or someone that is close to you, should get medical help for their eating or dieting behaviors. The more that we open up the floor for these discussions, the more lives will be saved. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact the NEDA Hotline here.

Source: NEDA

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Kyra Mackesy graduated The College of New Jersey with a BA in Journalism and Professional Writing and a minor in Criminology in 2019. While at TCNJ, she was an active member of their Her Campus chapter, holding a wide array of positions: President and Campus Correspondent, Editor-in-Chief, Senior Editor, Marketing and Publicity Director, and Social Media Manager. She loved seeing her chapter grow throughout her four years in college, and will remain an active Her Campus Alumni.
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