How To Get An Eating Disorder

‘i Would Be Holding Back’

How to Have An Eating Disorder Like a Pro

Nia Patterson, a 30-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, who is in recovery from an eating disorder, told Newsweek about how challenging Thanksgiving can be for people in this position.

Patterson’s condition was particularly complex and stumped medical professionals. They were originally diagnosed with bulimia in 2016 but around two years ago, Patterson, who uses they/them pronouns, discovered that they probably had anorexia. At one point, their therapist diagnosed them with EDNOS, which stands for eating disorder not otherwise specified.

“Thanksgiving is rough because there is so much food and I love cooking,” Patterson said. “I would always cook something for the family and I really loved seeing my family come together around my food and enjoying it.”

“But meanwhile, I would be holding back like, ‘Oh, if I eat that am I going to gain more weight, I don’t want to gain more weight.'”

Patterson also said dealing with certain harmful comments regarding diet culture has been a source of frustration.

“I remember one Thanksgiving I made like this very delicious peach cobbler and everyone was so excited about it, everyone ate it so quickly. And then immediately my family was like, ‘No, you shouldn’t have made us that, there was too many calories.'”

“We all love food but there are still so many unhelpful comments made around food and calories and working out,” Patterson said.

Patterson also said being compassionate with yourself at this particularly difficult time is important.

Do Listen To Your Treatment Team

Your treatment team should be comprised of professionals who have years of training and experience with eating disorders. Listen to them when they recommend specific changes, even when it might seem scary to you. Changes such as adding a medication, adopting a meal plan, or considering a higher level of care can be important and necessary changes to your treatment plan.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Being self-critical often goes along with many other symptoms of eating disorders, but it won’t help to motivate you or help you in recovery. Instead, being overly critical of yourself can increase feelings of shame and negative emotions you may experience, exacerbating an already difficult situation. Work to stay positive and use affirmation exercises to help combat self-critical thoughts.

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Diagnosing An Eating Disorder


People who have an eating disorder may eat too little or too much food. They may also be preoccupied with their shape or weight.

Eating disorders can affect anyone. But females in the United States are twice as likely as males to have the illness, according to the National Eating Disorders Association .

There are four main types of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa: People with this condition dont eat enough. And they may have an extremely thin appearance.
  • Bulimia nervosa: People with this condition overeat and then purge to avoid gaining weight. They may also abuse laxatives and diet pills.
  • Binge eating: People with this condition eat uncontrollably and dont purge.
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder : This condition was originally called eating disorders not otherwise specified .

The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. But several factors can contribute to the disease. Eating disorders may begin in the teen and young adult years. These are ages when many people are focused on their self-image. The illness can also run in families. Some emotional disorders, like obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, increase the risk for an eating disorder.

Need Help To Overcome An Eating Disorder Learn To Identify Your Triggers And Resources For Help On This Page

Health Observation: Eating Disorders: in Infographics

Because of the severity of eating disorders, a comprehensive treatment team specializing in eating disorders is often essential in the healing and recovery process. Facing an eating disorder alone can be challenging, dangerous and often leads to relapse without proper support and guidance. There are safe and effective ways for someone to overcome an eating disorder.

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Dont Avoid All Situations That Make You Anxious

Recovery from an eating disorder requires facing situations that you may have been avoiding, such as eating certain foods, tolerating feelings of fullness, and tolerating feelings of anxiety when you do not exercise. Work with your treatment team to develop a plan to gradually face these situations.

Don’t Believe You Aren’t Worth The Cost

Treatment and recovery from an eating disorder can be expensive and time-consuming. Try not to get caught up in thinking that you are not worth the financial commitment that treatment may require. If money is an issue, talk openly with your treatment providers about it. There are often ways to get treatment that is less expensive.

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What Is An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape .

In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated. In fact, eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second to opioid overdose .

People with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include severe restriction of food, food binges, and purging behaviors like vomiting or overexercising.

Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre increasingly common in men and gender nonconforming people. These populations often seek treatment at lower rates or may not report their eating disorder symptoms at all .

Identifying Eating Disorder Symptoms In Teens

How to Develop an Eating Disorder in 5 Easy Steps!

A CHOC dietitian explains the warning signs and symptoms of eating disorders in teens, and what parents should watch for.

December 1, 2022 December 2, 2022


By Shonda Brown, clinical dietitian at CHOC at Mission Hospital

Eating disorders are complex psychological disorders that often include medical, nutritional and social complications. During the past several years, there has been an increase in cases seen among adolescents and teens. Eating disorder behaviors are difficult to recognize and may go unnoticed until the eating disorder has become so severe that a child needs to be hospitalized for medical recovery.

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You Might Be Thinking Why Didn’t I See This Sooner Is There Something I Could Have Done Differently You’re Not Alone

Eating disorders can be difficult to catch initially as they are easily disguised as eating healthy or exercising without cause for concern. Its often not until the symptoms have progressed significantly that an intervention is made. While individuals struggling with eating disorders may experience symptoms a bit differently, some common, early signs of eating disorders are:

What Are The Different Kinds Of Eating Disorders

Anorexia NervosaAnorexia Nervosa is characterised by restrictive eating that leads to a person being unable to maintain what is considered to be a normal and healthy weight. People experiencing Anorexia Nervosa possess an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming overweight, no matter their current weight and appearance.

Bulimia NervosaBulimia Nervosa is characterised by repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviours, such a purging or excessive exercise. People experiencing Bulimia Nervosa often place an excessive emphasis on their body shape or weight.

Binge Eating DisorderBinge Eating Disorder is characterised by episodes of eating large amounts of food over very short periods of time, with no compensatory behaviours. People who experience binge eating often feel a loss of control during episodes of binge eating.

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders OSFED may present with many symptoms of other eating disorders, but where the person doesnt meet the full criteria for diagnosis of those eating disorders. OSFED is no less serious and with treatment, recovery is possible.

Disordered eatingDisordered eating is a disturbed and unhealthy eating patterns. They can include restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating behaviours, and in particular dieting are the most common indicators of the development of an eating disorder.

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Discover If You Have An Eating Disorder

It is important to know the warning signs of an eating disorder before discovering whether you have one. Some signs may indicate that an eating disorder is emerging or is currently being experienced. There are behavioral, physical and psychological signs which frequently supplement any eating disorder. If a person experiences numerous of the following symptoms, they should seek help immediately.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa

Binge Eating Disorder Checklist : SelfCareCharts

Bulimia nervosa is a condition where people have recurrent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food and feeling a lack of control over their eating. This binge eating is followed by behaviors that compensate for the overeating to prevent weight gain, such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors. Unlike those with anorexia nervosa, people with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight.

Symptoms and health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

  • Chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • Swollen salivary glands in the neck and jaw area
  • Worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth from exposure to stomach acid when vomiting
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging
  • Electrolyte imbalance , which can lead to stroke or heart attack

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About Your Mental Health

  • HiddenHave you ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition by a professional ?
  • Have you ever received treatment/support for a mental health problem?
  • Are you receiving treatment/support now?
  • Think about your mental health test. What are the main things contributing to your mental health problems right now?Choose up to 3.
  • Relationship problems
  • Body image or self-image
  • Financial problems
  • Grief or loss of someone or something
  • Racism, homophobia, transphobia, or discrimination
  • How To Get Through Thanksgiving With An Eating Disorder

    For the millions of Americans with eating disorders, navigating Thanksgiving can be a challenge given the food-centric nature of the holiday. But if you do suffer from one of these conditions, there are steps you can take to help minimize the stress and anxiety that is often associated with this time of year.

    Eating disorders are a range of complex mental illnesses that can have a devastating impact on those who suffer from them, and in severe cases, may even be life-threatening. They are generally characterized by negative thoughts and feelings around food and body image.

    At least 9 percent of the global population are affected by eating disorders, and almost 30 million Americans will experience one over the course of their lifetime, figures from a report published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s STRIPED show.

    Eating disorders can afflict people of any age, body type, race, sexual orientation or genderalthough women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

    These conditions, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder , can have a serious impact on the individual, leading to a range of social, psychological or behavioral problems, in addition to medical complications and an increased risk of death or suicide.

    More than 10,000 deaths every year can be attributed to an eating disorder, figures from the STRIPED report show.

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    Warning Signs Of An Eating Disorder

    Many people worry about their weight, what they eat, and how they look. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults, who face extra pressure to fit in and look attractive at a time when their bodies are changing. As a result, it can be challenging to tell the difference between an eating disorder and normal self-consciousness, weight concerns, or dieting. Further complicating matters, people with an eating disorder will often go to great lengths to hide the problem. However, there are warning signs you can watch for. And as eating disorders progress, the red flags become easier to spot.

    Don’t Insist That You Can Recover On Your Own

    An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders

    Research shows that people with eating disorders are more likely to recover with a specialized treatment team in place. In most cases, willpower, self-help books, and independent work cannot replace the professional guidance of a therapist, dietitian, and physician. These professionals have years of experience and training to help you on the road to recovery.

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    So What Causes An Eating Disorder

    • The shame of having an eating problem
    • The eating disorder is useful- this is a big issue for most people with an active eating problem. Purging can become a way to manage moods or to get through the day.
    • Perhaps I dont deserve to get help / I should be able to crack this on my own.
    • I am not ill enough or, there are people much more worse off than me.

    What Are Eating Disorders

    Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. People with eating disorders use disordered eating behaviour as a way to cope with difficult situations or feelings. This behaviour can include limiting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities of food at once, getting rid of food eaten through unhealthy means , or a combination of these behaviours.

    Its important to remember that eating disorders are not all about food itself, but about feelings. The way the person treats food may make them feel more able to cope, or may make them feel in control, though they might not be aware of the purpose this behaviour is serving. An eating disorder is never the fault of the person experiencing it, and anyone who has an eating disorder deserves fast, compassionate support to help them get better.

    So that healthcare professionals can choose the right kind of treatment for someone, there are a number of different eating disorders that someone can be diagnosed with. Its possible for someone to move between diagnoses if their symptoms change there is often a lot of overlap between different eating disorders.

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    What About The Treatment Of Other Eating Disorders Including Bed Arfid And Osfed

    Eating disorders are behavioral problems and the most successful modalities of treatment all focus on normalizing eating and weight control behaviors whilst managing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Increasingly, we understand eating disorders as not just psychological problems but as disorders of learning and habit. Changing established habits can feel challenging, however practice of healthy eating behavior under expert therapeutic guidance helps develop skills needed to manage anxieties regarding food, weight and shape — all of which fade over time with the gradual achievement of mastery over recovery.

    How Can I Prevent An Eating Disorder

    How Do I Find Out If I Have Eating Disorder?

    If eating disorders run in your family, being aware of the warning signs is a good first step to catching the problem early. Prompt treatment can break unhealthy eating patterns before they become harder to overcome. You can also reduce the risks of an eating disorder by getting treatment for problems like depression, anxiety and OCD.

    Be a positive role model for your family, eating health food and avoiding talking about food as good or bad. Do not diet, talk about dieting or make negative comments about your body.

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    Have You Noticed Someone You Care About Becoming More And More Withdrawn From Life

    Are they avoiding spending time with friends? Do they seem hyper focused on food? Have you watched them with concern as they continue to lose weight, appearing to be a shell of their former, vibrant self?You may even feel paralyzed with confusion – who can you talk to? What do I even ask? With so much stigma surrounding eating disorders, you may be worried about bringing up concerns about your loved one for fear that you could make it worse or draw attention to a private issue. As you listen to recommendations by medical providers about your loved one you are confused by what all of these extra visits with providers are going to look like. How are you going to make time for them when your schedule is already so saturated with appointments? You cant understand WHY your child is refusing foods that they once enjoyed. Why cant they just eat?

    What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Eating Disorder

    People with an eating disorder may feel it helps them stay in control of their life. However, as time goes on, the eating disorder can start to control them. If you have an eating disorder, you may also have the urge to harm yourself or misuse alcohol or drugs.

    Talk to someone you trust such as a close friend or family member if you think you have an eating disorder. You can also call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline . You can also call the Butterfly Foundation for advice if you’re concerned about a family member or friend.

    Your doctor can advise you on diagnosis and possible treatment options, which will depend on your individual circumstances and the type of eating disorder you have.

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    Don’t Blame Your Family

    Although it used to be more commonly believed that parents were a leading cause of disordered eating, the latest research shows that eating disorders have complex causes that include genetic and societal factors. No family is perfect. If your family has been unsupportive, they likely don’t know how to be supportive. Talk with your treatment provider about how to process your relationships to be able to move on as you recover. Many providers will also encourage family sessions and sometimes use teletherapy or online counseling to include family members who live out of town.

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