Some of the issues that anorexics, bulimic, and compulsive overeaters stuggle with include: an inability to identify their needs and feelings, their fear that they will never get enough, their need for immediate gratification, and their shame over their neediness, greed, and rage. What makes it so difficult is that these feelings are usually part of a split-off or hidden self.

The disruption in early relationships becomes expressed through the disruption in eating patterns. Whether it is not eating, binge eating, or compulsive overeating, the person uses food rather than people to meet his/her needs, and to avoid the repetition of earlier feelings of shame, disappointment, frustration, or abuse.

  • Eating disorders plague millions of Americans.
  • Some estimate that 20% of the female population suffer from a major eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders in men are on the rise.
  • Eating disorders are now found in children as young as 8.
  • Eating disorders are progressive diseases: they do not get better without treatment.
  • Eating disorders can lead to serious illness and even death if untreated.

Warning Signs

Bulimia

  • Engages in binge eating.
  • Reacts to emotional stress by overeating.
  • Uses the bathroom frequently after eating.
  • Cannot volunarily stop eating.
  • Purges using laxatives, diuretics, and/or vomits to control weight.
  • Feels out of control and guilty about eating.
  • Has depressive moods.
  • Alternates between binges and fasts.
  • Menstrual irregularities.
  • Is preoccupied with weight.

Anorexia

  • Is preoccupied with food, calories, and weight.
  • Continues to diet or restrict foods even though not overweight.
  • Is thin and getting thinner, to a critical level.
  • Exercises obsessively.
  • Loses his/her hair or hair begins to thin.
  • Menstrual irregularities.
  • Has a distorted body image: feels “fat” even though is thin.
  • Has depressive moods.
  • Denies hunger- has an intense fear of getting fat.

Compulsive Overeaters

  • Engages in episodic or daily uncontrollable overeating.
  • Feels out of control.
  • Reacts to emotional stress by overreating.
  • Cannot voluntarily stop eating.
  • Is noticeably overweight.
  • Tries diets but they usually fail.
  • Is concerned with immediate gratification.
  • Has trouble dealing with limitations.

Eating Disorder Descriptions

Characterized by a cycle of uncontrollable consumption of large quantities of food followed by some form of purging, the purging may be self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives, or obsessive exercising. Feeling out of control may extend to other areas of their life, resulting in over-spending, chaotic relationships, or alcohol/ drug abuse.

Characterized by an obsession with food and weight, yet they deny their hunger and starve themselves. The use of restriction may be extended to other parts of their life, resulting in limited social activities and friendships.

Characterized by uncontrollable episodic or daily overeating, resulting in weight gain. The person may continually try different diets, but they usually end in frustration and failure.