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Eating disorders are complicated and can affect people in different ways. People who struggle with eating disorders can feel helpless and out of control of one of the most basic human functions. 

Eating disorders can manifest similarly to substance use disorders (SUDs), though it’s often hard for people to recognize that they have a problem. Those who recognize their eating disorder sometimes struggle with getting help and reestablishing a healthy relationship with food. However, there are options available to those struggling with eating disorders.

Types of Eating Disorders

Recognizing and understanding your eating disorder is the first step toward recovery. While there are more, these are the most common eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

People who struggle with anorexia nervosa are typically extremely underweight. People with this disorder often view themselves as overweight, even if this isn’t the case. Because of this distorted perception, they become obsessed with their weight and food. 

This obsession can lead to unhealthy eating patterns, such as eating very small portions of specific foods. Often, anorexia nervosa is also associated with self-induced vomiting. This prevents your body from properly processing the food, therefore withholding necessary nutrients.

Bulimia Nervosa

In contrast, people with bulimia nervosa often struggle to portion their food healthily. Because of this, they’ll eat copious amounts of food at a time. This bingeing is typically followed by feelings of guilt or shame, which then results in unhealthy correctional behaviors. Such behaviors often include self-induced vomiting, fasting, or abuse of laxatives. 

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating followed by fasting or vomiting can be a symptom of an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa. However, binge eating by itself is also often considered its own disorder. 

People who binge eat are often overweight as they can’t control their impulses to consume large amounts of food in a single sitting. While binge eating, in this case, is still usually followed with guilt or shame, it often isn’t followed by fasting or vomiting. Instead, people may turn to even more food for comfort, thus creating a perpetual cycle.

Avoidant and Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is most commonly diagnosed in middle childhood. However, it can occur in adults as well. People who struggle with ARFID limit the amount or type of food eaten. However, restrictive food habits do not occur because of an issue with body image. 

Children with ARFID don’t get enough calories to grow properly, and adults don’t get enough calories to maintain bodily functions. This disorder is often associated with a lack of appetite or interest in food.

What Causes Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders of all types don’t have a specific cause or trigger. Eating disorders are often caused by genetic, psychological, cultural, and social factors. 

One of the most commonly assumed reasons someone may develop an eating disorder is a psychological need to fit society’s beauty standards. Because of this, some people believe only women are affected by eating disorders. In reality, this may be just one of many factors that drive a person to develop an eating disorder, and men are also subject to them. 

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders don’t have one specific cause, meaning treatment must be personalized. You may try various treatments before you find one that works for you. 

Psychologically, eating disorders function similarly to SUDs because they cause compulsions that often feel out of control. Your brain develops habits and patterns to cope with the world around you, and straying from them may seem impossible, even if they harm you. 

However, it’s essential that you receive the help you need, as eating disorders can lead to other disorders such as depression and anxiety or SUDs. Some eating disorders, if left untreated, can prove to be fatal. Finding the best treatment option for your specific needs is crucial to your recovery. 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is often used to treat various disorders successfully, and eating disorders are no exception. CBT aims to identify the underlying reason for your disorder and replace your unhealthy habits with healthier skills. Through time, practice, and communication with your therapist, you can learn to form healthy eating habits again.

Group Therapy

CBT is an individualized approach to treatment. However, group therapy may also be effective for you. Sharing experiences with those struggling with a similar issue can help you see your own disorder in a new light. Group therapy can help create a sense of solidarity with your peers and remind you that you’re not alone in your journey.

Nutritional Counseling

A dedicated dietician who can ensure you’re receiving the appropriate amount of daily nutrients can be essential in your path to recovery. 

Medications

While medications are not for everyone, some medications, such as fluoxetine, have been proven to help individuals recover from eating disorders. Medications should never be taken without instruction and supervision from your doctor.

Treatment at West Coast Recovery Centers

Most likely, a combination of some or all of these methods may be necessary to get you back on track to having a healthy relationship with food. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we’re willing to explore options with you to determine the best path for you as an individual. We’re eager to help you on your path toward eating healthily and gaining control over your eating habits.

Eating disorders are complex and subjective. While they’re influenced by a wide variety of factors, they are not untreatable, though recovery requires professional support. There is a path for you to find and maintain a healthy relationship with food. West Coast Recovery Centers professionals are eager to help you with this journey. Our professionals are trained to treat a variety of addictions, and eating disorders are no exception. West Coast Recovery Centers’ staff can help you find the best treatment for your specific needs as an individual, and we’ll be with you every step of the way during your recovery. Together, we can create a healthier lifestyle for you and improve your quality of life. No matter what, you’re not alone in this journey. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, call West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509.

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