5 Eating Disorders You've Never Heard Of
Though bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating have finally made their way into the public consciousness (with much more work to be done), there are many other eating disorders still lurking out there that you might not be aware of, or might actually have. Whether you're a picky eater or are binging at night, it's never too late to change your habits, and begin a new, healthy relationship with food and your body. If you think you might be suffering from an eating disorder of any kind, you should always consult a specialist and see where help can be found. As for the following five disorders, find out if you or someone you know has a problem – one you might not have realized even existed:
Selective Eating Disorder - Like OCD meets anorexia, children, adolescents and adults who suffer from this disorder are more afraid of food than gaining weight. From the 28-year-old woman who would only eat cheese sandwiches to a man who had to pack forty bags of potato chips for a snowboarding vacation, selective eaters control their diet by eating only specific foods and meals. Dr. Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and lecturer in eating disorders, says, "Selective Eating Disorder can be equally as restrictive as having a full blown eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia. Psychological symptoms include worry, depression and quite significant social impairment, since sufferers can't go out and eat. SED aligns itself more with the obsessive end of eating disorders, showing similarities with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder."
Signs to look for: Do you have a limited diet marked by specific foods or meals? Do your eating habits limit you from participating in certain functions and social engagements? Do you feel anxiety or nervousness if you are not able to locate your select foods? Do you go out of your way to make sure you are able to eat within your diet?
Treatment: Since Selective Eating is as much about obsessive compulsive behavior as it is about food, treatment with a counselor is widely suggested. The therapist will work with the sufferer to reset eating patterns through exposure to new foods while simultaneously exploring the issues affecting the person's obsessive compulsive behaviors.
Orthorexia – Coined by alternative physician Stephen Bratman, Ph.D., in 1997, orthorexia nervosa refers to an obsession of only eating healthy food. As Bratman explains, "Because it requires considerable willpower to adopt a diet which differs radically from the food habits of childhood and the surrounding culture, few accomplish the change gracefully. Most must resort to an iron self-discipline... Over time, what they eat, how much, and the consequences of dietary indiscretion come to occupy a greater and greater proportion of the orthorexic's day." Much like someone suffering from Selective Eating Disorder, the goal is not to be thin, but rather to control one's food for other purposed. For the orthorexic, the motive is often to be clean, healthy, and pure.
Signs to look for: Is eating healthy an obsession? Does straying from your restricted diet cause you to feel guilty? Do you have to scrutinize every label to determine if it's organic, raw, or in keeping with your health standards? Do you find that you are creating financial stress over your eating habits?
Treatment: The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) suggests that first, "the orthorexic must admit there is a problem, then identify what caused the obsession." For many, it is difficult to view their eating habits as unhealthy because the disorder's nature is to make them think they are eating well. The NEDA goes on to say, "while orthorexia is not a condition your doctor will diagnose, recovery can require professional help. A practitioner skilled at treating those with eating disorders is the best choice."
Nocturnal Sleep Eating Disorder - Nocturnal Sleep Eating Disorder (NS-RED) is not technically classified as an eating disorder, but rather a sleeping disorder. People who suffer from the condition often wake up in the morning to discover that they have gone into the kitchen and binged while sleeping. According to the Sleep Foundation, "one study indicates that over 66 percent of sufferers are women." In addition, factors such as stress, depression, and sleep apnea are linked to NS-RED, and typically, foods consumed by sufferers are high-calorie and high-carbohydrate in nature. Though NS-RED can lead to weight gain, its greatest concern for sufferers is the not being aware of what they have done since, as the Sleep Foundation explains, "parts of the brain that control memory are asleep, people with NS-RED cannot remember nighttime eating."
Signs to look for: Is there evidence in your kitchen or home that food was consumed throughout the night? Do you wake up with stains on your clothing as though you have eaten? Do you have cuts on your hands as though you have used a knife or other kitchen appliance throughout the night? Do you have the feeling in the morning that you have eaten without being aware of it?
Treatment: Treatment for NS-RED begins with a clinical interview and a night or two at a sleep-disorders center where brain activity is monitored. Though SSIs are frequently suggested to help with anxiety and depression, stress management classes, counseling, and reducing intake of alcohol and caffeine are also strongly recommended to reduce stress and improve sleep. If you think you may have NS-RED, talk to your physician and ask for a referral to a sleep-disorders treatment center.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder – It is estimated that Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) affects 1 in 50 people. Though often associated with eating disorders, BDD is a type of chronic mental illness in which you can't stop thinking about a flaw with your appearance - a flaw that is either minor or imagined. Whether it is about one's weight, hair, or nose, people who suffer from BDD are obsessed with an element of their physical body which prevents them from living a normal life. Often they find themselves with other psychiatric problems because of the disorder: depression, anorexia, anxiety issues, and more. According to the Mayo Clinic, "When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, often for many hours a day. You may seek out numerous cosmetic procedures to try to 'fix' your perceived flaws, but never will be satisfied."
Signs to look for: Are you obsessed with some element of your hair, face or body? Do you need to constantly touch or look at some flaw you have determined is unacceptable? Do you pick at your skin or pull out your hair to make it "look" better? Have you received plastic surgery to fix the problem and are still not happy? Would you rather stay at home than have people see this flaw?
Treatment for BDD – According to the The National Women's Health Information Center,doctors suggest looking into serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil, which are antidepressants that decrease the obsessive and compulsive behaviors. The Health Information Center allows recommends "participating in cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a type of therapy with several steps: (1) the therapist asks the patient to enter social situations without covering up her 'defect;' (2) the therapist helps the patient stop doing the compulsive behaviors to check the defect or cover it up. This may include removing mirrors, covering skin areas that the patient picks, or not using make-up; and (3) the therapist helps the patient change their false beliefs about their appearance."
Night Eating Disorder – Night eaters are characterized by their habit of consuming half of their daily caloric intake after 8pm. It is estimated that there are over 6 million night eaters in the US, and that night eating is one of the leading causes of obesity. According to Albert Stunkard, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania's Weight & Eating Disorders Program, "This snacking may be a way for these persons to medicate themselves because they eat a lot of carbohydrates, increasing serotonin in the brain, which in turn, leads to sleep." Unfortunately, more than 33 percent of people who suffer from morbid obesity also suffer from night eating disorder, but the disorder is best measured by the pattern, not necessarily the amount of weight gained. "People with this syndrome start out daily with morning anorexia– or not eating anything all morning – and consume fewer than average calories throughout the day. As the day wears on, their mood worsens and they become more and more depressed," explains Stunkard. "Then comes the night, when victims raid the refrigerator and cupboards for high-carbohydrate snacks, sometimes up to four times a night. As anxiety and depression increases throughout the night, so does eating."
Signs to look for: Are you at your hungriest at night, skipping breakfast or having no appetite for it? Do you eat the majority of your meals after dinner, this includes dessert, snacks, a post-dinner meal, and other foods? Do you leave the bed to snack at night or find that you cannot sleep until you eat more? Has this been going on for longer than two months or is it in response to an immediate trauma or loss in your life?
Treatment:The first thing the sufferer must do is recognize that night eating is not normal. Then, they should see a physician to find out if the cause of their night eating is due to a medical condition, i.e. hypoglycemia. Based on the physician's recommendations, the sufferer should begin working with an eating disorder expert. Through behavior modification, stress reduction, and/or group therapies like Overeaters Anonymous, sufferers can find a new evening regimen. Registered Dietician Anne Fletcher recommends implementing a "meal-termination technique"- whether that means having a cup of favorite tea or taking a short walk after the evening meal. New rituals can help sufferers to create new, healthier habits in their eating regimens.
For more information on these and other eating disorders, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or call 800.931.2237.
More on MyDaily...
How I Realize I Was an Emotional Eater
The Truth About Detox Diets
The 10 Craziest Diets in History
Tags: body dysmorphic disorder, BodyDysmorphicDisorder, eating disorders, EatingDisorders, national eating disorders association, NationalEatingDisordersAssociation, overeating at night, OvereatingAtNight
Around the Web
- What Drives Men Away and What Attracts Them - YourTango
- Bill Clinton: It's Still the Economy, Stupid - The Daily Beast
- Do You Want to Know When Your Friends Run Into Your Ex? - The Frisky
- Would You Marry Someone Who Didn't Have a Job? - The Gloss
- And the City That Has the Most Sex Is ... - The Stir, CafeMom
- 3 Easy Ways to Keep Your Makeup Sweat-Proof This Summer - BellaSugar