Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

EDNOS are usually partial or atypical cases of anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Similar symptoms are usually seen, but without forming a complete picture of the disorder, but nonetheless no less serious.

They can seriously interfere with personal and working relationships, academic performance and affect health.

This behaviour can consist of two methods of weight control such as drastic exercise, chronic dieting, abuse of anorectics, laxatives, enemas and diuretics, chewing and spitting out of food, and binging, but less frequently than in binge eating disorder.

The main difference to bulimia is that there is no compensatory activity after binging, so patients end up suffering a weight problem or obesity. They are usually people who never learned to control stress, and the act of eating calms them, they use food as a way to cope with uncomfortable feelings and emotions. As with bulimia, they usually feel depressed and guilty for not being able to control their eating habits, which only increases stress, and the cycle continues.

This is the excessive practice of sport due to an obsessive concern about physical appearance and body image deformation.

These people see themselves as puny, flabby and with poor musculature and try to correct it with unlimited sport. The common characteristics are:

  • Concern about being weak or having little muscle tone.
  • Inability to see their own body objectively, despite having a large and muscular body, they see themselves as weak and puny, giving rise to dissatisfaction with their physical appearance.
  • Constantly looking at themselves in the mirror to check the size of muscles.
  • Avoidance of public areas where their body can be seen, use of special clothing,
  • etc.
  • Compulsive need to do exercises with weights, to increase body size.
  • Social, family and personal life affected by body care, training and diet.
  • Abuse of protein, anabolic steroids and food supplements.

It mainly affects men between 18 and 35, and more often from a working class background.

This disorder produces many problems in the body as well as injuries from excessive sport.

The misuse of weights in the gymnasium damages the bones, tendons, muscles, and joints, with sprains and tears.

The use of steroids to try to improve physical performance and increase muscle volume produces many conditions in the body such as growth arrest, heart problems (increase in heart size and greater risk of heart attack), acne, baldness, and, in women, masculinisation and irregularities in the menstrual cycle, and in men, testicular atrophy, reduction in sperm count, as well as liquid retention, increase in aggression, delusions, mania and suicidal tendencies among other things.

In this disorder there is an unhealthy concern for healthy food, which results in the consumption of food from organic sources only, and avoidance of foods that contain or might contain colouring, preservatives, pesticides, genetically modified ingredients, less healthy fats, and high levels of salt, sugar, and other ingredients.

A person suffering from orthorexia is not worried about being overweight, and doesn´t have a mistaken image of their physical appearance, but rather a worry based on maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

This practice often leads to not eating meat, fats, and other groups of foods that are not substituted with others that can provide the same nutrients.

The physical consequences can include: malnutrition, anaemia, hypervitaminosis (vitamin excess) or hypovitaminosis (vitamin deficiency), low blood pressure, etc.

Psychological consequences: these may include depression, anxiety and hypochondriasis.

The method of food preparation (vegetables cut in a special way) and the utensils used (only ceramic or only wooden, etc.) are also part of the obsessive ritual.

In some respects, people with a tendency towards orthorexia have certain things in common with people suffering from anorexia, they are usually meticulous people, tidy and with an exaggerated need for self-care and protection.

Planning their daily diet takes up a much large amount of their time. The most vulnerable groups are women, adolescents, and those who train as bodybuilders, athletes and so on.

People with orthorexia refuse to eat out, because they don´t trust the food preparation, they avoid socialising and keep a distance from their family and friends.

To begin with, they aim to improve their health, treat an illness or lose weight, but in the end, the search for spiritual compensation through diet dominates.

According to Bratman, the characteristics of these patients are:

  • Devoting more than 3 hours a day to thinking about their healthy diet.
  • Thinking about the quality of foods more than the pleasure of eating them.
  • Their loss of quality of life is seen as an increase in the pseudo-quality of the food they eat.
  • Feelings of guilt when they fail to comply with the dietary beliefs.
  • Exaggerated planning of what they are going to eat the next day.
  • Social isolation due to their choice of diet.
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