Eating disorders may be divided into two categories--anorexia and bulimia.
Anorexia is usually defined as willful starvation--deliberate and obsessive starvation in the pursuit of thinness.
Bulimia is usually defined as a craving for food which often results in overeating followed by purging--either by vomiting, laxatives, or exercise.
Although most people who suffer from eating disorders are female, males also may become bulimic or anorexic.
Many of the symptoms of eating disorders are similar; however, each disorder
is somewhat different. If someone is anorexic, you might expect to see: an extremely
thin person; an over-achiever; a perfectionist; an isolated individual; loneliness;
black-white thinking; an obsessive preoccupation with food--obtaining, cooking,
and eating; all- encompassing fatigue; extreme sensitivity to cold; compulsive
exercise; distorted body image; and lack of menstrual period. If someone is
bulimic, you might expect to see: the use of food as a comforter; laxative or
diuretic abuse; heart palpitations; mood swings; constant concern about body
image and weight; quick trips to the bathroom after meals; dualistic thinking;
excessive exercise; some isolation; low self-esteem; and average body weight.
Both forms of eating disorders are dangerous to good health and can cause major
problems, both now and in the future. Some of the immediate physical complaints
include constantly feeling cold, bloodshot eyes with dark circles, finger calluses,
dizziness, weakness, lackluster hair, moodiness, insomnia, no menstruation,
swollen glands, weight loss, sore throat, or dry skin. Some of the long-term
effects include extreme weight loss, gastrointestinal pain, diarrhea and/or
constipation, malnutrition, loss of tooth enamel, metabolism disruption, heart
attack, electrolyte imbalance, permanent damage to internal organs, kidney failure,
How to help...
If you suspect that a friend has an eating disorder, please remember that help is available at the Counseling Center. The following suggestions may also help you to help your friend.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
Information about eating disorders at Mental Health.Net
The Center for Eating Disorders
at Sheppard Pratt in Towson, MD
Beyond Physical Appearances: A Guide to Anorexia - an overview about anorexia, with links to other resources.
National Eating Disorders Association
603 Stewart St., Suite 803, Seattle, WA 98101
Our cultural obsession with thinness coupled with a distorted standard of beauty, which we are bombarded with on a daily basis in the media, has left many women unhappy with their bodies. These are just a few links to get you thinking about the impact of media on body image and self-esteem.
Airbrushing in catalogs - To quote Jennifer Aniston "The media create this wonderful illusion-but the amount of airbrushing that goes into those beauty magazines, the hours of hair and makeup! It's impossible to live up to, because it's not real."
MamaVision - support site run by a former model, she's left her disordered eating in the past and posts her thoughts on our society's obsession with thinness.
Evolution - from Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
Onslaught - another Dove video