Do you have an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are adverse relationships with food and eating that go beyond eating to survive or eating to enjoy the food. Eating disorders add a dimension to food and eating that is psychologically disturbing and physically unhealthy.

What are the warning signs to look for in eating disorders?

Overeating” is one obvious sign. How many times do you fill your plate up? How many cheeseburgers or French fries do you get at the fast food outlet? Do you often eat between meals? Is every day just one long continuous meal with interruptions for other activities? Do you think a lot about food when you are not eating? Do you often eat while reading or watching television? Do you eat at established and traditional mealtimes (three per day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner), or do you eat whenever you feel hungry? These are some questions to ask yourself to help you to recognize if you have an eating problem.

Looked at separately, there are a number of warning signs and signals that you may have an eating problem:

As mentioned above, overeating” is a good indicator. Overeating once in a while or at special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas is “normal” and nothing to worry about. Overeating at every meal is another matter. When you eat a meal, do you stop at one plate or go on for two? ...or more? When you cook, do you always eat up everything that is left rather then put it into the refrigerator?

Food addicts demonstrate the same addictive behavior as drug addicts. One heavy dose may be followed by the need soon for the next. This means that just because the individual ate a big meal not long previously does not mean that they are not ready to begin the next big meal or snack right away. When you open a box of ice cream, or a bag of cookies or potato chips, do you eat it all? Think about it. These are signs that the individual my have an eating disorder.

Like drug addicts or alcoholics, food addicts also make excuses for their habit. They might make a resolution to control their eating in different ways, but before long, they have broken the resolution and are eating in the old pattern again. In addition to these broken resolutions, there may also be the use of “valid excuses” for the overeating: “I was too upset to know what I was doing.” “You know, I wasn't really aware of what I was doing. I was thinking about something else.” “After tonight, things are going to change.” These are typical excuses used by food addicts. So, the meaning of these excuses is to go on doing what you want to do right now because you have a good reason for it, and things will be different tomorrow.

Addicts often set themselves up to fail. While saying that they will stop eating snacks between meals, when they go to the store, they will, nevertheless, buy snacks (just to have them on hand).” When they cook, instead of cooking planning only for the needed portions, they will cook much more.. Later, eating the leftovers, the individual thinks, “Oh, there really wasn't any more room in the refrigerator, so I decided just to eat it.” These are forms of addictive behavior that one should be aware of.

Often times Eating Disorders, as many other Addictions, can be accompanied by one or more Personality Disorders particularly Borderline Personality Disorder and Mood Disorders such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.

If you see yourself in this general picture of the food addict, don't despair. Psychological counseling can provide you with coping mechanisms and positive behavioral change: The treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis intervention therapy often combined with medication treatment and inpatient hospitalization for acute interventions specifically in cases where the patients are not treatment compliant in psychotherapy or lacking family support and are experiencing severe symptoms and/or adverse health issues.

Next:  More on Eating disorders.