What are Eating Disorders?

Disordered eating often (but not always) occurs in affluent cultures, especially in America, where anorexia nervosa (voluntary starvation) and bulimia nervosa (binge-eating followed by purging) now afflict one in ten people.

Most of the diagnosed are young women in their teens and 20s, but the prevalence is increasing among young men each year.

Among the most baffling of conditions, eating disorders take on a life of their own so that eating, or not eating, becomes the point of everyday existence. Both anorexia and bulimia are powered by a desire for control.

But in another eating disorder, binge-eating, in which people gorge on large amounts of food and generally gain weight, sufferers feel that eating is out of their control.

Both culturally mediated body-image concerns and personality traits like perfectionism and obsessiveness play a large role in creating eating disorders, which are also often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety.

There is no magic cure for these conditions, which are often resistant to treatment, and many cases can be acutely life-threatening, requiring hospitalization and forced nourishment.

Find a Treatment Center here.

Recent Posts on Eating Disorders

Too Skinny Models: Are They Models of Eating Disorders?

We really want to see a more healthful portrayal of female models who our daughters seek to emulate.

Eating Disorders and Romantic Relationships

How to help when your partner is struggling with an eating disorder.

What's Happening With Barbie's Body?

Have you seen the new cover of Time Magazine about Barbie's new shape? Here's what it means for parents.

Food and Fitness: The Case for Letting go of Extremism

Moderation is the key to improved health and quality of life

Binge Eating Disorder: Hunger for Food or Something Else?

A new drug offers treatment for the cycle of food abuse.

How Erin Willett is Bringing Us Out of the Darkness

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on January 25, 2016 Brick by Brick
Erin Willett, first a contestant on "The Voice" and now part of the current cast of "The Biggest Loser", shares her personal struggle with binge eating.

How Self-Inhibition Leads to Addiction

Addictive actions are never random. Get to know how you can predict and control them.

Are You Overweight or Obese?

The BMI isn't foolproof. Here are some alternative measures you can use.

Spiral Up: Train Your Brain to Release Stress

By Laurel Mellin Ph.D. on January 21, 2016 Rewired
Feeling stressed? New emotional tools to spiral up!

Mindfulness in the Treatment of Self-Destructive Behavior

Self-destructive (dysregulated) behaviors can feel impossible to resist. Can mindfulness really help something so entrenched and overwhelming? (If so, how?)

Play With Your Food

What can we learn from playing with our food?

Teens and Self-Injurious Behaviors

Find out why teenagers self-injure and the warning signs to look for.

Easy Trick to Help You Feel Fuller

By Susan Albers Psy.D. on January 15, 2016 Comfort Cravings
This article talks about one of the easiest ways to help you to eat more mindfully. Check out this easy trick to being more in charge of how much you eat.

5 Brain-Smart Resolutions

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on January 14, 2016 Obesely Speaking
Preventing no pain no gain from turning into no pickles no onions.

Kindness: The Currency of Change

We can change, and kindness is the way to go about creating that change. Criticism might work, but we’re not going to find happiness with it.

When New Year's Resolutions Turn Deadly

For some people, New Year's resolutions can trigger a nightmare that never ends.

How Therapy Can Help Exercise Addicts (Part II)

When we rely upon others to tell us how worthy we are, we actively forfeit strengthening a connection with our own sense of value.

Why NOT to Diet in 2016

I'm resolving to make 2016 a diet-free year. I hope you'll join me.

Recovery from an Eating Disorder is Possible

Recovery from an eating disorder is a process, however, the resolve to recover is a definite choice. Moving forward and avoiding the trap of recovery as a New Year's Resolution.

Sleep and Dreaming in Anorexia

By Emily T. Troscianko on December 31, 2015 A Hunger Artist
What can we learn about eating disorders and ourselves from attending to our dreams?

Inside Every Overweight Woman...

By Alexis Conason Psy.D. on December 29, 2015 Eating Mindfully
We are told that every overweight woman is just waiting for a better self to emerge. But what about loving yourself, at your current weight, now?

Holiday Fat Facts

By Mark Borigini M.D. on December 27, 2015 Overcoming Pain
One study showed that the period between mid-November and early January was the main time period during which significant weight gain occurred for the year.

Like Chocolate for Immortality

By Mark Borigini M.D. on December 22, 2015 Overcoming Pain
But now, two great American institutions, Harvard University and Mars, Inc., are—unintentionally, I assume-- embarking on discovering a medical raison d'être for chocolate lovers.

On the Other Side: From Grief to Laughter and Play

An individual in recovery from an eating disorder is no longer bound by food, weight or body image preoccupation. This Holiday Blog looks at letting go & the joy in food.

The Road Long Past Recovery…Called Life?

By Emily T. Troscianko on December 17, 2015 A Hunger Artist
How stopping eating something sweet before bedtime can be a decision against anorexia rather than for it – and how a bit of ruthlessness can make space for future freedom.

Powerful Tool to Stop Emotional Eating

By Susan Albers Psy.D. on December 15, 2015 Comfort Cravings
I'd like to introduce you to an exercise I created called the 5-5-5-5-5 exercise. It's one of my favorite strategies for coping with emotional eating.

Tips for Facing Fear Foods in Eating Disorder Recovery

Exposing yourself to fear foods is critical in your eating disorder recovery.

Is Obesity a Mental Health Issue?

Seeking to understand the connection between obesity and mental health struggles — what came first, the chicken or the egg?

Step Away From The Scale (and Never Go Back On)

By Alexis Conason Psy.D. on December 10, 2015 Eating Mindfully
In our culture where thinner is always better, the scale doesn't just tell us what we weigh. It has become a measure of our self-worth.

Adolescents and Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, including adolescents. Here are a few tips to help navigate some of the struggles that surround the season.