As you can see, the differences between dieting and anorexia nervosa, and between overeating and binge eating disorder, can get pretty hazy. What starts out as “normal” can easily cross the line and become disordered, especially when you are focused primarily on weight and calories, instead of healthy eating and exercising. Recognizing problems as early as possible is one key to getting them under control.|
Underneath the Surface
Many people with clinical eating disorders have certain genetic or biochemical susceptibilities to strong emotions, or histories of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse that further amplify the intensity of feelings and short-circuit the development of normal emotional-management skills. There is also strong evidence that disordered eating can be “passed down” from generation to generation within families.
Although biology and genes play significant roles in eating disorders, it's a mistake to think that people develop eating disorders because there is something wrong with them. People turn to these behaviors because, to them, they solve an important problem or accomplish some necessary purpose. And even when the “solution” starts causing serious problems of its own, people may consciously or unconsciously stick to their disordered eating patterns until they can come up with some alternative way of meeting the original need.
It’s a lot easier to find a way to meet that need when you have some idea of what that original purpose or problem might be. So, let’s take a brief look at some of the most common problems and needs that, according to people who have successfully struggled with their own eating disorders, got them headed down the road to trouble in the first place: