Kesha, the pop star, recently entered treatment for an eating disorder. She has gone up and down with her weight in the last year so. Currently, she presented a slimmer physique in concerts and tv appearances. Did she look like someone with an eating disorder? She did not appear emaciated or skeletal. Would you recognize someone with an eating disorder and are there different types of eating disorders?

“In a society that continues to prize thinness even as Americans become heavier than ever before, almost everyone worries about their weight at least occasionally. People with eating disorders take such concerns to extremes, developing abnormal eating habits that threaten their well-being and even their lives. This question-and-answer fact sheet explains how psychotherapy can help people recover from these dangerous disorders.”–Kelly D. Brownell, PhD; Kathy J. Hotelling, PhD; Michael R. Lowe, PhD; and Gina E. Rayfield, PhD. Oct 2011 online article on

There are different kinds of eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia. The majority of those diagnosed with eating disorders are girls or women, but the numbers for males are rising, especially for males in sports such as wrestling or racing jockeys. Anorexia is probably the most commonly known and depicted eating disorder. In the last couple years, there have been reports on super models who were anorexic and on stars who like Nicole Richie who were allegedly anxorexic. Individuals with anorexia have a distorted image of themselves. Even when they are underweight, they see themselves as morbidly obese. they refuse to eat, exercise excessively and compulsively, and develop unusual habits in order to obtain their unrealistic or dangerous goals to be thin. They risk irriversible damage to their health in the process and for some death.

What is bulimia? Individuals with bulimia may be more difficult to detect. They eat excessive quantities of food then purge their bodies of the food. They abuse laxatives, enemas or diuretics. Others purge by forcing themselves to vomit. They may also exercise compulsively to purge their body of the unwanted calories. Often they do not look emaciated. They are good at hiding these behaviors. Individuals with bulimia are likely to feel disgusted and ashamed of their bingeing and purging activities. They also risk their life with these behaviors.

Similarly, individuals with binge eating disorder engage in frequent episodes of out of control eating. However, they do not purge. Still other individuals may not fit discretely into these categories, but exhibit definite general eating disorders that warrant attention. Diagnosis is crucial to treatment planning. Identifying problematic behaviors early is optimal. Often anorexia and bulimia are preceded by strict dieting and weight loss. It is time to seek help when eating behaviors begin to have a destructive affect on the individual’s daily functioning, self-image, and relationships. Highly trained psychologists can accurately diagnoses and treat eating disorders.

Earlier, we mentioned that eating disorders can be life threatening. They also cause damage to the body of the individual. For example, individuals may develop anemia, constipation, osteoporosis, heart damage and brain damage from anorexia. Bulimic individuals are likely to have chronic sore throats, worn away tooth enamel, acid reflux, esophageal erosion, and heart attacks. Binge eaters may develop high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other obesity related disorders. In addition, psychological disorders are often associated with eating disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance abuse).


Stars such as Candice Cameron Bure, have successfully treated and overcome their eating disorders. Psychologists help identify important issues that need attention, clarify diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan. Psychologists work with the patient, and their families if indicated, to focus on health instead of weight, to develop more positive behaviors, eliminate self-destructive behaviors, build self-esteem, and help patients manage negative thoughts or traumatic experiences. A physician monitors the medical component of treatment for any of the medical issues that may arise from the eating disorder. A nutritionist or dietician may also be involved to teach the patient and the family healthy eating behaviors and nutrition, as well as to develop a meal plan to help the patient attain a healthy weight. In more severe cases, inpatient treatment may be necessary. Finally, a psychiatrist will prescribe medication for patient who may benefit from it. In most cases, treatment is successful, but it may need to be long term for many patients. Family or marital therapy can help to prevent relapses and improve interpersonal relationships that may contribute to or be adversely affected by the eating disorder.

Even though this blog talks about weight loss and slimming down, the emphasis is on acquiring & maintaining a healthy weight for you as an individual. Please see your physician or a licensed psychologist if you are suffering from an eating disorder. If you recognize these symptoms in a loved one, please urge them to get treatment or inform their parents if they are minors. You can find a list of providers at
or listed in the provider list of your health insurance information.

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