Eating disorders are characterized by abnormal eating habits and a particular concern for weight and body shape.


Anorexia nervosa is a disorder that implies starving oneself due to the fact that the person in case perceives his/her body as being overweight; the fear of gaining weight is obsessive and because of this, the sufferer will constantly refuse to eat and maintain a healthy weight.


Bulimia nervosa is represented by repeated episodes of binge eating (intake of large quantities of food) and followed by a compensatory behavior that consists of self induced vomiting, purging through laxatives, diuretics and cleansers, exercising in excess.


Binge eating is different from bulimia nervosa through the fact that after the excessive eating episodes there are no periods of “compensation”; people that suffer from binge eating do not fast, exercise or purge themselves after excesses and are in most cases obese or overweight.


Eating disorders are complex and generated by a series of different factors of biological, psychological and environmental nature


Biological: irregular hormonal functions, nutritional deficiencies and genetic background


Psychological: low self-esteem, negative perception of the body


Environmental: dysfunctional family life, working in a domain that promotes unrealistic body images (such as modeling), childhood traumas, peer pressure, stressful life changes

Symptoms and signs



Intense fear of gaining weight, extreme thinness

Destructive behavior: intentional starvation up to the point of death

Distorted body image

Lack of menstruation

Anemia, weakness, dry skin and thinned hair

Low blood pressure and body temperature, slow pulse, lethargy

Brain damage and multi-organ failure




Unlike anorexia sufferers, people that have bulimia often maintain a normal weight or are even slightly overweight; the purging rituals are usually done in secret because the sufferers are disgusted and ashamed of their body and situation

Inflammation and soreness of the throat; swollen salivary glands; thinned tooth enamel and gum problems due to constant exposure to stomach acid

Gastrointestinal problems; acid reflux

Severe dehydration

Electrolyte imbalance (sodium, calcium, potassium or other minerals)


Binge eating:


The inability to control oneself when eating

Consuming large quantities of food in short periods of time (2 hours)

Only feeling satisfied, happy or relieved when eating

Continuing to eat even when full


Gastrointestinal difficulties


Accepting and admitting there is a problem


An effective course of treatment has to address the underlying emotions that generate the abnormal eating behavior


Psychotherapy is recommended (especially when the emotional problems have as source a trauma – sexual abuse, substance abuse; depression)


Cognitive-behavioral therapy – focuses on identifying and modifying dysfunctional thought patterns and attitudes that trigger destructive eating habits


Family therapy


An eating disorder sufferer should not be afraid to ask for help (from friends, family, specialists). You are not alone in this!

  • Eating disorders are not something serious, they are life choices made out of vanity


    Restrictive dieting is something normal. Everyone has to diet at least at some points in their life.


    An eating disorder is “a cry for attention” especially in the cases of teenagers


    If someone develops an eating disorder, it is usually their family’s fault


1.0% to 4.2% of women have suffered from anorexia in their lifetime


Up to 4% of the women in the US suffer from bulimia


Eating disorders affect around 10 mil people in the US


More than 50% teenage girls and 33% boys use restrictive and unhealthy methods to lose weight


35% of normal dieters will advance to pathological dieting and ulteriorly develop an eating disorder

Did you know?

Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness


About 4% of anorexic individuals die from complications generated by the disease


27% of college-age women often practice binge eating and purging regularly


Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Kesha and Jessica Alba are only a few examples of persons that have struggled with an eating disorder