Eating Disorder

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a condition related to on going eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions and your ability to function in daily life. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

The majority of eating disorders involve fixating on your body weight, shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviors that can significantly impact your body's ability to get the nutrition it needs. Eating disorders can affect the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth. Eating disorders can also lead to other diseases.

Eating disorders usually develop in the teen and young adult years. With treatment, you can return to healthier eating habits and sometimes reverse serious complications caused by the eating disorder.

Treatment for eating disorders should involve a team of experts, including a doctor, therapist, and dietitian. The goals of treatment are to help someone:

  • stop the unhealthy behaviors

  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight and healthy eating patterns

  • learn ways to change thoughts about his or her body and approach to food

Symptoms

Symptoms vary, depending on the type of eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are the most common eating disorders. Other eating disorders include rumination disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia (an-o-REK-see-uh) nervosa — often simply called anorexia — is a potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight or shape. People with anorexia use extreme efforts to control their weight and shape, which often significantly interferes with their health and life activities.

When you have anorexia, you excessively limit calories or use other methods to lose weight, such as excessive exercise, using laxatives or diet aids, or vomiting after eating. Efforts to reduce your weight, even when underweight, can cause severe health problems, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia (boo-LEE-me-uh) nervosa — commonly called bulimia — is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. When you have bulimia, you have episodes of bingeing and purging that involve feeling a lack of control over your eating. Many people with bulimia also restrict their eating during the day, which often leads to more binge eating and purging.

During these episodes, you typically eat a large amount of food in a short time, and then try to rid yourself of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. Because of guilt, shame and an intense fear of weight gain from overeating, you may force vomiting or you may exercise too much or use other methods, such as laxatives, to get rid of the calories.

If you have bulimia, you're probably preoccupied with your weight and body shape, and may judge yourself severely and harshly for your self-perceived flaws. You may be at a normal weight or even a bit overweight.

Binge-eating disorder

When you have binge-eating disorder, you regularly eat too much food (binge) and feel a lack of control over your eating. You may eat quickly or eat more food than intended, even when you're not hungry, and you may continue eating even long after you're uncomfortably full.

After a binge, you may feel guilty, disgusted or ashamed by your behavior and the amount of food eaten. But you don't try to compensate for this behavior with excessive exercise or purging, as someone with bulimia or anorexia might. Embarrassment can lead to eating alone to hide your bingeing.

A new round of bingeing usually occurs at least once a week. You may be normal weight, overweight or obese.

Rumination disorder

Rumination disorder is repeatedly and persistently regurgitating food after eating, but it's not due to a medical condition or another eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. Food is brought back up into the mouth without nausea or gagging, and regurgitation may not be intentional. Sometimes regurgitated food is rechewed and reswallowed or spit out.

The disorder may result in malnutrition if the food is spit out or if the person eats significantly less to prevent the behavior. The occurrence of rumination disorder may be more common in infancy or in people who have an intellectual disability.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder

This disorder is characterized by failing to meet your minimum daily nutrition requirements because you don't have an interest in eating; you avoid food with certain sensory characteristics, such as color, texture, smell or taste; or you're concerned about the consequences of eating, such as fear of choking. Food is not avoided because of fear of gaining weight.

The disorder can result in significant weight loss or failure to gain weight in childhood, as well as nutritional deficiencies that can cause health problems.


Treatment

Disclaimer: Although we believe in the power of professional help, you are responsible for selecting the provider or treatment. PXU cannot accept responsibility for any of the services provided by these or any other providers.

The Meadows Ranch

55635 N. Vulture Mine Road Wickenburg, AZ 85390

(866)-329-7713

Eating Disorder Resource Center LLC

3219 E Camelback Rd #300 Phoenix, AZ 85018

(917) 626-7866

Healthy Futures

8065 N. 85th Way Scottsdale, AZ 85258

(480) 451-8500

Rosewood Centers For Eating Disorders

950 W Elliot Rd #201, Tempe, AZ 85284

36075 S Rincon Rd, Wickenburg, AZ 85390

(800)845-2211

A New Beginning

9825 N. 95th Street, Suite 101Scottsdale, AZ 85258

(480) 941-4247

Doorways Counseling Center

4747 N 7th St #450 · In Valley Commerce Center

(602) 997-2880

TheHealthyWeighOut

9825 N 95th St Ste 101, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

(480) 941-6999

Empowerment Treatment Center

5940 W Union Hills Dr D200, Glendale, AZ 85308

(623) 810-1663

The Mandel Center of Arizona

8120 E. Cactus Rd. Suite 310 Scottsdale, AZ 85260

(480) 734-1199

Community Connections LLC

19841 N 27th Ave

(623) 242-8460

Eating Disorder Hotline Listings

National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237 or text NEDA to 741741

Monday–Thursday from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. EST, and Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. EST. You can expect to receive support, information, referrals, and guidance about treatment options for either you or your loved one.

Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673

This is a hotline dedicated to serving anyone in crisis. Sometimes, people with eating disorders might feel so full of shame or self-hatred that they contemplate hurting themselves. If this is true for you, this hotline offers nationwide assistance and support from volunteers specifically trained in crisis intervention. You can talk to someone day or night about anything that’s troubling you, even if it’s not related to an eating disorder. You can also call if you need referrals to eating disorder treatment centers.

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: 1-630-577-1330

Currently serving people in the United States, the hotline operates Monday–Friday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. CST, with plans for a 24/7 hotline coming soon. Trained hotline volunteers offer encouragement to those having problems around eating or binging, support for those who “need help getting through a meal,” and assistance to family members who have concerns that their loved one might have an eating disorder.

Overeaters Anonymous: 1-505-891-2664

This hotline is available to people worldwide who need a referral to an Overeaters Anonymous support meeting in their area. Contrary to popular belief, Overeaters Anonymous is not just for people who are concerned about eating too much; it is also intended for those who have anorexia, bulimia, food addiction, or any other type of eating disorder. If you are reluctant to attend an in-person meeting or are not geographically near one, its website offers you the option to participate in an online- or telephone-based support group.

Mindful eating is a simple-to-learn life skill which can lead people to enjoy a satisfying, healthy and enjoyable relationship with food. It is a skill that can help people break free from ‘food rules’ and begin to enjoy healthy, flexible and relaxed eating practices. Mindful eating is not a diet. Mindful eating is about the way we eat, not what we eat.

What is mindful eating?

Being mindful is about focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment to help disconnect from habitual, unsatisfying and harmful habits and behaviors. Mindful eating, put simply, is the opposite of mindless eating. The mindful eating approach employs strategies which can help change the way we respond to food, both physically and emotionally. Adopting a mindful eating mentality involves: Being aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities of food preparation and consumption Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing and nourishing to the body by using your senses to explore, savor and taste Acknowledging responses to food without judgement Being aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide decisions to start and stop eating Identifying personal triggers for mindless eating whether they are emotions, social pressures or certain foods.

Why try mindful eating?

Research shows that mindful eating may help people control binge eating and overeating, enjoy food and feel more in touch with the body’s internal hunger and satiety signals. A lot of us may not be aware of the reasons we engage in mindless eating. Some common contributors can be: Not recognizing the difference between hungry and non-hungry eating; Not stopping to listen to what your body signals are telling you; Confusing hunger and thirst Allowing yourself to get too hungry and/or eating too fast Eating an amount that should make you feel full, but not feeling satisfied Eating in case you get hungry at a later stage Eating in response to emotions Eating to allay a state of mind such as boredom or tiredness. The mindful eating approach employs strategies which encourage awareness of the senses while eating to bring you into the present moment. These strategies include: keeping a mindful journal, slowing down while eating, focusing on eating (not watching television or reading), and mindful food shopping and preparation. Mindless eating is common because from a very early age we are trained to eat in response to external cues (time of day, availability of certain foods, for comfort, to alleviate boredom, out of habit, to clear our plate, as a reward) rather than in response to hunger.

Mindful eating techniques

Mindful eating techniques can help reduce the likelihood of binge eating. These include:

1. Eating small or moderate amounts of food every 2-3 hours.

2. Before eating asking a few basic questions Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? If so, what type of food/drink do I want?

3. Set a nice place to eat and arranging food nicely on the plate. Do not eat standing or walking!

4. Being in the present (3 deep breaths) before beginning to eat

5. Eat slowly, paying attention to the smell, taste, sound, texture and look of the food.

6. Put utensils or food down between mouthfuls.

7. Every few minutes check in with your hunger signals

8. Stop eating just before you feel full and wait 10-20 minutes before eating more food if you are still hungry.

9. Enjoy your meal. If you don’t enjoy eating you will never be satisfied.

You might also like to try journaling, which is a mindfulness based practice. You should use a method or technique of journaling that suits you and is sustainable over a long period of time. Some people like to carry a notebook or journal around with them; some people keep a journal to write in before they go to bed. Others keep a food diary or notes on their computer. It doesn’t really matter what you write, it can be a list of foods you ate, a poem, a description of your feelings or a drawing. Yoga, meditation and walking meditation are also mindfulness based activities you might like to try.

Here is a simple mindful eating exercise you can do at home to practice the skill of eating mindfully.

1. Choose one piece of food. It might be a raisin, a slice of mandarin, a potato chip or a chocolate.

2. Begin by looking at the food. Examine the shape, color and texture.

3. Bring the food to your nose and smell it.

4. Place the food on your tongue. Notice the response of your salivary glands.

5. Take a bite and be aware of the sounds in your mouth and the texture on your tongue.

6. Notice how the texture of the food changes as you chew.

7. Now swallow. Pay attention as the food travels down your throat to your stomach.

8. Now say the name of the food silently to yourself.

9. Try practicing a mindful bite at least once every meal.