Do I Have Anorexia? What is anorexia, anyway?

To be honest, if you are wondering if you have anorexia at the very least you likely have a disordered relationship with food, and you would benefit from working with a professional. 

The main features of anorexia are typically extreme thinness and/or rapid weight loss. In many ways, anorexia can be similar to bulimia in terms of the emotional landscape – but a person with anorexia is not at a healthy weight, they are too thin. Someone with anorexia may eat little (a behavior known as restriction), eat bizarrely, or exercise too much.

People with anorexia are profoundly afraid of gaining weight and often obsess about this possibility - sometimes it can be difficult for someone with anorexia to think about anything else. On top of this, another feature of anorexia is body image distortion, or difficulty seeing your body realistically. Your may be quite thin, even emaciated, but have difficulty fully appreciating this and even worry that you might be overweight, especially in certain body areas. 

 Anorxia nervosa, an eating disorder that profoundly effects its sufferers though fear of fat and obsession about weight, is highly treatable.

Anorxia nervosa, an eating disorder that profoundly effects its sufferers though fear of fat and obsession about weight, is highly treatable.

Subtype: Restricting Type and Binging-Purging Type

Many people think that people with anorexia never eat large volumes of food, but this is not the case at all. If a person only restricts and doesn’t have other eating disordered behaviors, like discussed above, this is known as the “restricting type”. There is also a subtype of anorexia where the person has the general profile discussed above, but also exhibits binging and purging behaviors. Not surprisingly, this subtype is known as the “binging-purging type”.

At some point, the starving brain may override the fear of gaining weight, leading to a binge. Often, this is followed by intense guilt and purging behaviors. The key difference between the diagnosis of anorexia, binging-purging type, and bulimia is whether or not a person is able to maintain their weight in a healthy range. If someone is too thin, they are considered as having anorexia binging-purging type, but if they can maintain a healthy weight or are overweight they are more appropriately diagnosed with bulimia.

Common Behaviors Associated with Restriction/Anorexia:

  • Eating very little
  • Avoiding specific foods or food groups
  • Skipping meals
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Obsessing over fat, sugar, or other aspect of food
  • Cutting food into very small pieces
  • Eating bizarre or unusual foods or food combinations
  • Lying about having eaten
  • Obsessive weighing