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This Week Is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Do You Know if Your Loved Ones Are Suffering?

binge eating, anorexia, bulimia

This year, from February 26 to March 4, it's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.


This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week's theme is talking about your disorder. The goal is for everyone to raise their awareness of eating disorders and reflect on the people in their lives. Do you know someone who might be showing signs or symptoms of an eating disorder? If so, it's time to show them care and compassion and get them to admit their problem to family and even close friends.

Millions of Americans right now are suffering from some kind of eating disorder. Researchers found that over 2 percent of the population could currently be diagnosed as having an eating disorder. Here are the different types of eating disorders and some information about them:

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is when someone intentionally doesn't eat or eats not enough to sustain their vital nutrition. Here are some signs and symptoms that could mean your loved one has anorexia:

  • Weighing themselves frequently
  • Being underweight
  • Suicidal thoughts or statements
  • Eating very little
  • Being irrationally afraid of gaining weight
  • Thinking they're fat despite showing signs of starvation

Catching a loved one with anorexia is important. In later stages, organ failure and brain damage can develop from starvation. But most importantly, anorexia is actually the mental disorder with the most suicide deaths (it even outdoes schizophrenia). It's a dangerous illness that could claim your loved one's life if you don't intervene.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is harder to detect than anorexia because sufferers maintain a healthy weight. The National Institutes of Health defines bulimia as having no control over the amount of food you eat in a single sitting, and then immediately excessively forcefully vomiting, using laxatives, using diuretics, or even excessively exercising.

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Theoretically, someone who eats a lot then works out a lot to make up for it would be bulimic according to the NIH definition. Some bulimia symptoms include:

  • Chronically sore or inflamed throat from vomiting
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Excessively worn out tooth enamel from vomiting
  • Dehydration from vomiting
  • Electrolyte imbalance from chronic improper or incomplete absorption of nutrients because of vomiting

Although people suffering from bulimia may have a healthy weight, they may be chronically nutrient-deficient due to them not giving their bodies enough time to absorb what they've eaten. Being chronically deficient in key nutrients can lead to many diseases, which is why it's important to intervene before damage sets in.

Binge-eating Disorder

Binge-eating disorder is bulimia without the follow-up. People with this disorder have no control over the amount they eat in one sitting, which leads to them eating an excessive amount of food. But they don't try to negate their eating by purging the food from their bodies or exercising excessively – which is why they become overweight or even obese.

Here are some symptoms of binge-eating disorder:

  • If you see your loved one eating a large quantity of food in one sitting on a regular basis
  • If your loved one feels ashamed about their eating habits and starts eating secretively
  • If your loved one eats when they're not hungry or if they're full
  • If your loved one is obese or overweight and gaining weight abnormally

Binge-eating disorder can lead to obesity and all the obesity-related diseases, like diabetes and GERD. It's important to talk to your loved one about binge-eating disorder if you suspect he or she is suffering from it.

This week pay more attention to your close friends and family. See if they're exhibiting any symptoms that could point to an eating disorder. If you get them to admit they're suffering, you might have just saved their life.