Eating disorders

Eating disorders are problems with eating because you have bad thoughts about your body. You may go through extreme weight changes. You may eat too little or too much. These disorders cause serious physical illness.

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Photo: iStock/Martine Doucet

Body image means how you feel about your body and how you believe your body looks. With an eating disorder, you make big changes to your eating habits because of your body image. You always try to control your weight. For example, you may eat very little every day because you feel like you are fat even when you are not. Any person can have eating disorders. But, more women have an eating disorder than men.

Symptoms of eating disorders

There are different types of eating disorders. Some eating disorders are:

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is when you are underweight but you still try to lose weight. Underweight means you do not weigh enough for your height and age. If you have anorexia nervosa:

  • You may stop eating.
  • You may exercise too much.
  • You may take medicine so you go to the bathroom a lot.
  • You may think you are not a good person because of how you think your body looks.
  • You are scared to gain weight even though you are underweight.

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is when you sometimes eat a lot of food and it feels like you cannot control what you eat. After you eat a lot of food, you feel like you must get rid of the food. If you have bulimia nervosa:

  • You think too much about your body shape and weight.
  • You have times when you eat a lot of food and then try to lose a lot of weight after.
  • You may make yourself vomit (throw up) after you eat a lot of food.
  • You may exercise too much after eating a lot of food.
  • You may stop eating for a long time after eating too much food.

Binge eating

Binge eating is when you eat too much food and you feel like you cannot stop. You eat too much food at least 2 times every week for 6 months. You usually feel sad, ashamed, and guilty after you eat.

Reasons for eating disorders

There are many reasons you can have one of these eating disorders. Some of the reasons are:

  • You have problems at home and with your family.
  • Other people tell you that you are too fat or you do not look good.
  • You feel pressure from other people to lose weight. For example, if you are a model or dancer, people might tell you that you need to lose weight.
  • You have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is when you do not think you are a good person or when you do not believe you are able to do anything.
  • You have anxiety. Anxiety is when you feel nervous a lot even when there is no reason to feel nervous.
  • You have family members who have an eating disorder or another mental health challenge.

Eating disorders are serious. If you do not find help, you might damage your body badly. Most people do not need medication but some people need to talk to a therapist or psychologist for many years.