Eating Disorders

Do You Have an Undiagnosed Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a time bomb waiting to go off

Posted Jun 16, 2015

Source: stockyimages/bigstockphotos

An eating disorder is a time bomb waiting to go off—and it may be about to go off in your life. Before you can do anything to defuse this bomb, you must first acknowledge its existence. Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and compulsive overeating.

Whatever the eating disorder, its progression will have similar components. An eating disorder cycle begins with a general sense of unease or dissatisfaction. These negative feelings could be due to such feelings as boredom, sadness, anger, or resentment. These feelings may be brought on by specific events, or they may be ongoing, defining a person’s general outlook on life. Even in the midst of a victory can come the unpleasant thought that the moment is only fleeting at best.

Next comes a desire to exert control over, to circumvent, or to override these unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Some people use drugs, alcohol, or sex. Some gamble, and some run mile after mile. For the person with an eating disorder, the act of eating is the cover of choice. The anorexic will use abstention from food to control these negative thoughts and feelings. The bulimic, the binge eater, and the compulsive overeater will use consumption of food to do the same thing.

The control over these feelings is fleeting. For the anorexic who abstains from food, self-loathing is never far away. The battle to not eat when every cell is crying out for nourishment is ongoing and intense. The need to consume excessive food is regretted and despised. For the bulimic, the binge eater, and the overeater who consume food, guilt and shame also come on the heels of that consumption, along with feelings of self-hate and hopelessness. Intense self-hate and guilt bring about an angry declaration: “I’m not going to eat like that ever again!”

Weakened already with guilt, shame, and self-hatred, the person with an eating disorder is well disposed to repeat the cycle again and again. The cycle turns around on itself as negative feelings prompt the eating disorder and the eating disorder reinforces those negative feelings.

Anorexia and compulsive overeating may appear to be opposites, but they are not. Food is their shared means for controlling that which seems uncontrollable. As a result, the act of eating, and its daily habits and patterns, becomes an ongoing battle with the eating disorder sufferer caught squarely in the middle.

To recap, here are the typical steps in an eating disorder cycle:

  1. Feelings of unease and dissatisfaction
  2. Desire to cover those feelings
  3. Use of food (abstention or consumption) as chosen method
  4. Feelings of guilt, shame, self-hate, and hopelessness after disorder behavior
  5. Renewed self-hatred over weakness
  6. Emotionally predisposed to repeat the behavior

If you have observed the above cycle in your life, it’s possible that you have an undiagnosed eating disorder for which you should seek professional treatment.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 29 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. For more information about eating disorder treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.