What is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is characterized by a disturbance of food intake or eating-related patterns. These eating-related patterns negatively impact physical, psychological, social, and emotional well-being. Underneath the eating disorder behavior, there can be deeply rooted beliefs, thought processes, dysregulated emotions, negative body image or self-image, family dynamic issues, and cultural or systemic impacts.
What is an Eating Disorder?
There are multiple kinds of eating disorders that consist of varying symptoms.
Binge-eating disorder includes a recurrent and uncontrollable urge to binge. Binging includes eating a large amount of food without the ability to control food intake at least once a week, which may be done discretely. The binging episodes could include eating rapidly, feeling uncomfortably full, eating without hunger cues, eating alone, feeling embarrassed about food intake, or feeling disgusted or guilty about yourself.
Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that consists of binging and purging at least once a week. The symptoms of bulimia nervosa include recurrent episodes of binge eating with the incorporation of compensatory behaviors to inhibit weight gain. Compensatory behaviors include vomiting, laxatives, fasting, or over-exercising. It is common that individuals with bulimia nervosa are fixated on weight and shape determining self-worth.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by restriction of food intake, fear of weight gain, reduction of food intake even at significantly low weight, altered perception of body, or self-worth becomes dependent on weight or shape. There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa, which are the restricting subtype and the binge/purge subtype. The restricting subtype includes solely restriction of intake, fasting, or excessive exercise. Whereas the binge/purge subtype includes recurrent episodes of binge-eating or purging/compensatory behaviors. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is a type of eating disorder that leads to lack of nutritional intake because of disinterest in eating or food, sensory related issues with food, or fear of consequences from eating. There may be significant weight loss, nutritional deficit, or supplemental feeding methods. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is not driven by disturbance in body image, weight, or shape.
There are other eating disorders that are less widely known, such as pica, rumination disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).
Pica is characterized with eating nonfood substances for at least one month, without correlation to cultural practice or another mental disorder.
Rumination disorder includes regurgitation of food; such as being spit out or re-swallowed/re-chewed without being related to a medical condition.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
OSFED includes symptoms of an eating or feeding disorder that causes distress without meeting the full criteria for the aforementioned eating disorders.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
How Can Therapy Help
Rachel Oppenheimer has experience helping adults (18+) with eating disorder recovery at the partial-hospitalization and outpatient level of care. Rachel has previously worked at an eating disorder treatment center and currently works at Chesapeake Mental Health Collaborative to assist individuals in eating disorder recovery at an outpatient level of care. Rachel helps clients find their True Self by gaining self-love, exploring values, increasing intuition, and challenging eating disorder related thinking patterns. Rachel is EDIT-I certified and utilizes the Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy approach with clients in recovery. Rachel works through the lens of self-compassion and cognitive behavioral therapy to enhance self-kindness, increase self-love, and reframe harmful thoughts or conditions of self-worth. Rachel will be a certified nature-informed therapist in February 2023, which will allow clients an option to implement nature as a healing tool. Benefits of this approach move beyond the medical perspective, looking holistically at what is behind the eating disorder symptoms inhibiting your True Self from flourishing.
Take the Next Step
If you are an adult experiencing eating disorder recovery and feel ready to take the next steps of strengthening your recovery and finding your True Self, email Rachel at email@example.com to schedule an appointment. Taking this step to finding help takes immense strength and determination. Recovery is possible!