Anyone can develop an eating disorder but it is mostly adolescent girls and young women who suffer with this devastating illness.

However, eating disorders are becoming more common with boys too.

We all worry about our size and weight and for most people this is normal. But some people develop severe life-threatening problems known as eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. For these people, eating abnormal amounts of food, unusual eating patterns and unrealistic concerns about self-image are common.

People with anorexia nervosa typically restrict their food intake to get very thin, experiencing drastic weight loss and malnutrition. Anorexics have a distorted body image and they have a fear of gaining weight.

AlcoholPeople with bulimia nervosa eat very large amounts of food in a short time period.

A person suffering from bulimia then vomits, exercises to extreme, or uses laxatives or diuretics in a ritual known as purging.
People with binge eating disorder eat very large amounts of food frequently and over a long period of time. Bingers feel out of control and experience feelings of guilt and depression.

Eating disorders are complex and have more than one cause.

Life experiences, family issues, cultural beliefs, state of mind and biological makeup all have an impact. Eating disorders are expressions of negative self-image.

Eating disorders affect health in many ways.

They disrupt a person’s ability to enjoy and function in everyday life. If left untreated, eating disorders are very harmful to your health and can even cause death. Social and psychological impacts include isolation, depression, low self esteem, loss of social relationships and trouble communicating with friends and family.

Some of the early signs of eating disorders are a preoccupation with weight, like feeling fat when your weight is normal or low, excessive calorie counting and exercising, social withdrawal, an inability to concentrate and being overly sensitivity to criticism.

Recovering from an eating disorder is possible but it is not easy.

It requires medical and nutritional therapies, counseling, and developing support networks. The goal is to help you regain your physical and mental health and return to normal body weight. Developing healthy eating patterns, coping skills and stress management techniques are essential. The final goal of treatment is to restore self esteem.

If you want more information about eating disorders and the programs available, or if you just want to talk, call Health Link Alberta. Nurses are available 24/7 to provide health advice and information. You don’t have to give your name.

Call 1-866-408-LINK (5465) or
780-408-LINK (Edmonton area) or 403-943-LINK (Calgary area).