Iowa Specialty Hospital

Understanding Eating Disorders

Feet tied to a scale with multiple tape measures

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness for individuals who suffer from an eating disorder.  The goal is to improve public understanding of eating disorders and their causes, dangers, and treatments and to empower everyone to reduce risk factors and join prevention efforts.

Just as each person is unique, so are the varieties of eating disorders.

  • Anorexia Nervosa – characterized by weight loss often due to excessive dieting and exercise, sometimes to the point of starvation.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) – avoiding or eating very little of certain foods, often due to texture or odor.
  • Bulimia Nervosa – a cycle of extreme overeating, known as bingeing, followed by purging or other behaviors to compensate for overeating.
  • Binge Eating Disorder – characterized by regular episodes of extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating

Eating disorders tend to develop during the teenage and young adult years, and they are much more common in girls and women. No one knows the precise cause of eating disorders, but they seem to coexist with psychological and medical issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trouble coping with emotions, and substance abuse.

For some people, a preoccupation with food becomes a way to gain control over one aspect of their lives. Although it may start out as simply eating a bit more or less than usual, the behavior can spiral out of control and take over the person’s life.

Eating disorders are a serious medical problem that can have long-term health consequences if left untreated. If you believe you or a loved one has an eating disorder, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a member of our counseling team.  They will work in conjunction with your primary healthcare provider to focus on a plan of treatment to meet your individual needs.  Counseling services are available in Belmond, Clarion, Garner, and Hampton.  Use the link below to learn more.

Counseling and Therapy Services

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