February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Over 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States will be diagnosed with an eating disorder in their lifetime. Many people have heard of Anorexia Nervosa, when a person restricts her eating to lose weight, and Bulimia Nervosa, when a person binges and purges to lose weight. However, there are several other eating disorders that you may not have heard of, such as Muscle Dysmorphia, Drunkorexia, and Orthorexia. Below are the names, and signs and symptoms of the main various eating disorders, as well as what parents can do to prevent eating disorders, and resources:

Anorexia Nervosa:

  • under weight
  • restricting food intake
  • over exercising
  • growth of fine hair on skin (lanugo)
  • obsession with food and calories
  • engages in strange eating behaviors such as hiding food, eating very small bites, taking long periods of time to eat, avoiding meals, dowsing food with condiments.
  • loss of period in teenage girls and women
  • highest risk of death of any mental health disorder

Bulimia Nervosa:

  • healthy or overweight
  • puff cheeks
  • calluses and sores on fingers and hands
  • binges: eats a large amount of food in one sitting
  • Purging: over exercise, abuse of diuretics and diet pills, self induced vomiting
  • obsession with food and calories
  • showering or going to bathroom after meals to purge food
  • can co-occur with substance abuse and self harm

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • binges: eats a large amount of food in one sitting
  • does not purge
  • feels out of control with food
  • eats to the point of physical discomfort
  • eats to cope with emotions

Muscle Dysmorphia (Bigorexia): Mainly in males

  • preoccupied with building muscle “bulking up”
  • spends hours at the gym
  • takes steroids and/or other supplements to bulk up
  • has anger outbursts, rages due to the steroids
  • organ failure

What parents can do to prevent eating disorders in their children:

  • model a positive relationship with food: eat healthy, use food to nourish the body
  • model positive coping skills in dealing with emotions and life issues
  • model positive body image by not critiquing yourself in the mirror, by taking compliments
  • compliment your child on other aspects of they are rather just focusing on appearance, such as intelligence, creativity, athleticism, friendliness, sense of humor, hard work



The National Eating Disorder Association:

The Eating Disorder Foundation in Denver: : books and other resources pertaining to all eating disorders : books and other resources pertaining to all eating disorders

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