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  • Kellie Blake RDN, LD

Eating Disorders

February 26 through March 4, 2017 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Thirty million Americans will suffer from a “clinically significant” eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Despite popular belief, we are all at risk. Eating disorders do not discriminate and they can be life-threatening. Due to some misconceptions about eating disorders, it’s difficult for some people to seek help, but professional help is critical for recovery. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and other specified feeding or eating disorder. Often times, these disorders go unreported or undiagnosed. Some people suffer for years, afraid to share their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors with others. Lack of treatment can be deadly. Often times, it’s up to family members/friends to have the courage to initially identify those with signs/symptoms of eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), some common signs/symptoms include:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.

  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.

  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.

  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.

  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.

  • Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging.

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.

  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.

  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.

  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.

  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.

  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.

The above information was obtained from

The health consequences of eating disorders are many. With anorexia nervosa, the body wants to conserve energy, so the heart rate is slowed and blood pressure lowers, which changes the heart muscle increasing the risk for heart failure. In addition, bone density and muscle mass decrease leading to weakness. And, severe dehydration can lead to kidney failure. Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.

For Bulimia nervosa, electrolyte and chemical imbalances can lead to heart failure and death. There is the potential for gastric, as well as esophageal rupture. Tooth decay and staining from frequent vomiting, chronic irregular bowel movements, peptic ulcers and pancreatitis can all occur.

Binge Eating Disorder can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and gallbladder disease.

It’s important to remember that all eating disorders are treatable and curable with professional help. There are many resources available. My business partner, Brandi Sentz, MHA, RD, LD, CDE is an eating disorder specialist with experience in effective treatment/management of eating disorders.

If you know someone suffering from an eating disorder, share this information and be an advocate! Visit the NEDA website to discover the eating disorder screening tool ( and other helpful resources!


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