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2 Your Well-Being: Recognizing the signs of eating disorders

Eating disorders can both be about food and not be about food, at the same time.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Eating disorders are eating behaviors that negatively impact health, emotions, and eventually, the ability to function well in life. 

There are many kinds of eating disorders. The best known are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. 

Anorexia involves extreme efforts at weight loss, which in addition to food restriction, sometimes includes excessive exercise, abuse of laxatives, or self-induced vomiting after eating. 

Bulimia is the practice of eating a lot of food in a relatively short period of time, then purging by vomiting, laxative abuse, or compulsive exercise.

Eating disorders are about food and simultaneously not about food. Emotional dysregulation seems to be involved in the development, maintenance, and outcome of an eating disorder. 

This dysregulation can be manifested in different ways, which might include impaired emotional expression, poor tolerance of negative emotions, and efforts to avoid emotions altogether.

Here are the signs to watch for when it comes to recognizing an eating disorder:

  • Over-focusing on body weight 
  • Obsessing about calories and food in general
  • Restricting food intake 
  • Establishing rigid routines around food or exercise.

Cone Health’s nutrition counseling program offers support for eating disorders. To learn more about those resources, click here. 

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