One important thing to remember is that someone with an eating disorder may not fit the textbook definitions of Anorexia or Bulimia. In fact, many people struggling with food and body image issues are diagnosed as having an "Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified." Many people with this diagnosis are binge eaters; however, the category also includes people who struggle with restricting, bingeing, weight loss, or purging, but not at levels severe enough to be diagnosed as anorexic or bulimic.
Eating disorders do not just affect your mental health, they can ravage a person's physical health as well. In fact, anorexia nervosa has the highest premature fatality rate of any other mental illness. According to Focus Adolescent services as many as
Pale Reflections is a wonderful online support community for people with eating disorders who are working to reclaim control of their lives.
The National Institute of Mental Health offers a wonderful array of free booklets on a variety of mental illness, including eating disorders. You can download them or order a hard copy to be mailed to you.
As the holidays grow close, a time when food is often central to family gatherings and community activities, please know that if you are struggling with eating and food issues help is available. You are not alone. Reach out, speak up, seek help. Share your story and you will find that there is a whole community of people like you ready to offer you support and guidance.
I hope you all have a healthy holiday season,