Which Eating Disorder is Linked to Starving Yourself?

Which Eating Disorder is Linked to Starving Yourself?

Which Eating Disorder is Linked to Starving Yourself?

Eating disorders are severe illnesses that affect tens of millions of Americans at some point over the course of their lifetimes. There are various myths surrounding eating disorders, however, it is important to note that these illnesses can affect individuals of all backgrounds. Furthermore, specialists now agree that eating disorders do not have one singular origin, rather, it is a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors that can increase an individual’s risk of developing one. 

Types of Eating Disorders

There are several different types of eating disorders, each with its own distinct qualities. Various types include but are not limited to: anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, orthorexia, ARFID, and OSFED. A behavior that often comes to mind when people think about eating disorders is forcing oneself to starve. While this can be a behavior linked to several different eating disorders, it is one of the hallmarks of anorexia nervosa

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that has been around for hundreds or even thousands of years; while the illness most often starts during adolescence, more and more children and older adults are now being diagnosed with it. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by:

  • Weight loss
  • In growing children, a lack of appropriate weight gain
  • Distorted body image (in many individuals)
  • Difficulty keeping an appropriate body weight for one’s stature and age

While individuals suffering with anorexia tend to restrict what kind of food they eat and how many calories they consume, someone does not have to be underweight or emaciated to be struggling with the disease. Sometimes, individuals suffering from anorexia also purge using laxatives or by inducing vomiting, exercise compulsively, and/or binge eat.

Physical Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa could have various physical symptoms, including:

  • Dry skin and nails
  • Brittle nails
  • Impaired immunity
  • Poor wound healing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Other non-specified gastrointestinal complaints such as acid reflux and constipation
  • Abnormal laboratory findings and bloodwork results
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or syncope
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Cold, mottled hands and feet
  • Swollen feet
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dry, brittle hair
  • Thinning of hair on the head
  • Lanugo, or fine hair all over the body
  • Sleep issues
  • Yellow skin (potentially from the overconsumption of carrots)
  • From induced vomiting: calluses and/or cuts on top of their fingers, cavities, discolored teeth, enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity

Behavioral and Emotional Signs of Anorexia Nervosa

There are also various emotional signs and behaviors that may suggest an individual is suffering from anorexia nervosa. These may include:

  • Concern about eating around others
  • Limited social spontaneity
  • Having an intense fear of weight gain
  • The feeling of being ineffective
  • Having the need for control
  • Inflexible thinking
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Layered dressing to stay warm or hide weight loss
  • Having a preoccupation with calories, food, weight, and dieting
  • Denial of feeling hungry
  • The development of food rituals such as excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate
  • Refusing to eat specific foods
  • Restricting against eating entire food categories
  • Cooking meals for other people that they don’t eat themselves
  • Keeping up an intense exercise routine despite any obstacles
  • Becoming socially withdrawn
  • Unable to or resists a body weight that is appropriate for their stature and age
  • Denies having a low body weight
  • Displays restrained emotional expression and initiative
  • Makes excuses to avoid meals or situations that involve food

Finding Help

While eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa can have serious mental and physical side effects, they are treatable. And one’s treatment plan will depend on his or her individual situation. There are several hotlines you can contact if you are worried about yourself or a loved one. Additionally, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.