Friday, August 8, 2008

Eating Disoders

When the topic of eating disorders is raised, the primary thought that often comes to mind is an adolescent female or young woman throwing up to reduce their weight because of bad body image. And while this is a primary population (about 90%) men are a growing population who also suffers from eating disorders. And among gay men, the number of men with the disorder appears to be higher than the general population.

Typically eating disorders fall into two or three types. These are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and Eating Disorder NOS. Often simply referred to as anorexia, anorexia nervosa is typically exhibited through the failure to eat or maintain proper nutrition. Bulimia nervosa is typically exhibited through purging behaviors such as throwing up or laxative use. Most often, however, you will not find a person with an either/or diagnosis, hence the combined diagnosis of eating disorder, not otherwise specified; sort of a “misc,” “other” or catch all diagnosis.

  • Symptoms of eating disorders include some of the following:
  • Significant changes in weight.
  • Depression
  • Eating more than a typical person does in a typical mean
  • Constantly thinking about food
  • Constantly thinking about body image.
  • Constantly thinking “I’m fat.”
  • Purging after eating.
  • Over-exercising
  • Taking excessive laxatives.

While it is difficult to accurately diagnose eating disorders, there is a body of research looking at helping individuals identify if they are at risk. One research article identified four questions that may be helpful. These questions are:

  • · Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • · Do you make yourself sick when you feel uncomfortably full?
  • · Do you currently suffer with or have you ever suffered in the past with an eating disorder?
  • · Do you ever eat in secret?

According to their research, if you answer yes to three of the questions, it is recommended that you seek further assessment. I tend to be more cautious, so if you have at least two “yes” responses, consider the possibility that your eating behavior may be a concern. It is very difficult to treat individuals who suffer from eating disorders. The interrelated issues related to treating eating disorders are similar to the interrelated issues as identified in this workbook. I’d be willing to be bet you could do a massive “search and replace” sexual health with eating disorder and many of the topics would be appropriate. The reason the topic is included in this workbook is because it is necessary to review how your eating behaviors are associated with your sexual behavior. Part of addressing eating disorders will also require you to address the questions of body image which is a different topic. Review your sex history and the timeline. Is there any correlation between sexual behavior, frequency, thoughts and feelings and eating behaviors?

Cotton, M. Ball, C., & Robinson, P (2003) Four Simple Questions Can Help Screen for Eating Disorders Journal General Internal Medicine, 18(1): 53–56 .doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20374.x.

Prevalence of Eating Disorders found at:

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