At any given time, approximately 33% of the population in the United States report that they are dieting, despite being of normal weight. When dieting adversely affects a person’s health it is referred to as an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating are the most severe of the eating disorders. They can affect both men and women, both are more common in women in the teenage years.
Anorexia nervosa is a disorder involving distorted body image (thinking you are fat when you are actually thin) and self-starvation. It manifests itself as restrictive patterns of eating, preoccupation with food, and excessive exercise. With bulimia nervosa, the patient eats food in excessive quantities and then induces vomiting or uses laxatives (purging). Binge eating is similar to bulimia nervosa, except that patients do not engage in purging behaviors. All these conditions can result in serious physical and psychological problems.
If you engage in any of the behaviors described above, or think you devote an excessive amount of time and energy thinking about appearance, weight, meal composition and/or calories, speak to a medical provider or other resources for guidance and counseling.