8 truths about eating disorders

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February 22 through 28 is National Eating Disorder week. From truths about them to the symptoms and types, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist Julie Hansen joined us to share.

The facts are just one part of becoming more educated on the topic and actually hearing the personal stories and experiences is another. To touch on that was Weber State Volleyball Player Rylin Roberts.

The following information was provided by Hansen.

8 Truths about Eating Disorders:

  1. Many people with eating disorders look healthy yet may be extremely ill.
  2. Families are not to blame and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
  3. An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
  4. Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
  5. Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
  6. Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
  7. Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
  8. Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.

Emotional and behavioral:

  • Weight loss, dieting, and control of food are primary concerns
  • Food rituals- Social withdrawal
  • Frequent dieting, body checking
  • Extreme mood swings


  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Difficulty concentrating, sleeping
  • Issues with dental, skin, hair, and nail health


1. Anorexia Nervosa
– Characterized primarily by self-starvation and excessive weight loss
– Symptoms include:- Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low- Disturbance in the experience of body weight or shape- Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight, and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain- Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation

2. Bulimia Nervosa
– Characterized by binge eating and compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting, in an attempt to undo the effects of binge eating.
Symptoms include: – Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as vomiting, laxative abuse, and excessive exercise- Feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes- Extreme concern with body weight and shape – Most people are of a normal weight

3. Binge Eating Disorder
– Characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.
Symptoms include:- Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior- Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating


A feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.

  • Atypical Anorexia Nervosa: criteria for AN met but weight is not low
  • Subthreshold Bulimia Nervosa: criteria for BN met but with less frequent behaviors
  • Subthreshold Binge Eating Disorder: criteria for BED met but occurs at a lower frequency
  • Purging Disorder: purging without binge eating
  • Night Eating Syndrome: excessive nighttime food consumption


  • Cardiovascular (muscle loss, low or irregular heartbeat)
  • Gastrointestinal (bloating, nausea, constipation)- Neurological (difficulty concentrating, sleep apnea)
  • Endocrine (hormonal changes – estrogen, testosterone, thyroid)


Intervention, treatment, ongoing support, recovery
Levels of Care:

  • Inpatient
  • Residential
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient
  • Outpatient

Hansen shared some helpful things you can say to someone who is suffering from an eating disorder:

  • You are worth more than your eating disorder
  • I believe in you
  • Let’s do this together
  • I might not understand, but I can listen
  • How are you?
  • I like your hair/bag/shoes…. 
  • I care about you.
  • What feels safe for you?



Treatment facilities:-

For more information about the services Hansen provides visit juliehansennutrition.com .

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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