Eating disorders: bulimia and anorexia

May 15, 2009

Health & Motivation

Bulimia and anorexia are two of the most common eating disorders. People affected by bulimia or anorexia have an excessive preoccupation with the shape and weight of their body.

Anorexia is an intense desire to be skinny and a tendency of keeping an under the normal limit weight. Persons affected by anorexia have a deformed image of their body believing that they are too fat even if in fact they are way under the normal weight for their height. Anorexics eat very little, preferring fruits and vegetables, avoiding sweets, meat, cheese and cooked food.

The Wikipedia definition of anorexia is:” Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric illness that describes an eating disorder characterized by extremely low body weight and body image distortion with an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Individuals with anorexia are known to control body weight commonly through the means of voluntary starvation, excessive exercise, or other weight control measures such as diet pills or diuretic drugs.”

Usually women are affected by anorexia, only about 10% of all anorexics being male.

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For a person to be diagnosed with anorexia it must have the following characteristics according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders aka DSM-IV-TR:

  • -a body weight 15% under the normal weight for their age and height
  • -an immense fear of gaining weight
  • -the illusion that they are fat or fatter than they are
  • -for women anorexics the absence of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles.

Bulimia is the loss of control over the eating habits when eating food and vomiting after every meal.

The Wikipedia definition is: ” Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors. The most common form—practiced by more than 75% of people with bulimia nervosa—is self-induced vomiting, sometimes called purging; fasting, the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and over exercising are also common.”

The characteristics of a bulimic are the following according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders aka DSM-IV-TR:

  • -repeated bulimic occurrences, at least 2 per week for at least 3 months
  • -binging while eating food
  • -repeated compensatory behaviors in the attempt of preventing weight gain( usually vomiting)
  • -a bad self image of their weight and body shape.

Bulimics usually keep secret their problem, have chaotic eating habits followed by self-induced vomiting. All these leads to a lot of wasted time eating and barfing. Bulimics crave sweets a lot, eating them to fill their emotional holes. They are usually always thinking of food and can have depressive symptoms like low self esteem, sadness, bad sleep, lack of hope, suicidal dreams.

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Besides vomiting some bulimics use lots of laxatives which in turn affect their health in many bad ways. They get cardiovascular, digestive and renal complications and even osteoporosis.

Find out what causes eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

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