Eating Disorder?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Is this called an eating disorder? I am technically “overweight” according to my BMI. I have a medical condition for which I see a nutritionist, and I follow the instructions I receive from her. I eat 1400 calories a day, but I am ashamed to say that most of the time I force myself to vomit most of it back up. Every day I get up, I tell myself I won’t do it, and I end up doing it most of the time anyway. I don’t understand it, and I do honestly want to stop, but I’m too ashamed of it, and I’m afraid if I asked for help I would just be told I’m overweight so what am I worried about?

A. After only reading a short paragraph about your situation I am not in a position to offer you a diagnosis. I can say that generally speaking purposefully vomiting after meals would be considered an eating disorder, namely bulimia. To receive an official eating disorder diagnosis would require you to be evaluated by a mental health professional and interviewed at length. Only then could you receive an informed diagnosis.

It’s important for you to not be ashamed and afraid to ask for help. Yes, you have had difficulty stopping a behavior. Almost everyone experiences difficult situations throughout their lives in which outside help is required. It is nothing to be ashamed of.

Needing help means that you are experiencing a challenging situation in which guidance is necessary. If you needed help doing your taxes would you feel ashamed about seeing an accountant? If you needed a new roof what’s the shame in hiring an experienced roofer to do the job? The point is that in these situations it makes sense that you would go to an expert for these issues. This situation should be no different. Getting help means that you are asking an expert, a mental health professional in this case, trained to deal specifically with these issues, for his or her advice about how to correct a behavior you desperately want to stop. Think of the therapist just as you would an accountant or a roofer. They are personal advisers of mind and behavior.

Please consider seeing a counselor for this issue. If you have an eating disorder then it is imperative that you seek help. Eating disorders can have serious medical consequences. Vomiting, for instance, can do serious damage to your stomach as well as your esophagus and teeth. Generally eating disorders often have little to do with actual food and weight issues and more to do with masking emotional difficulties. Therapy is the best place to deal with these issues. I hope you will consider it.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Eating Disorder?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/08/eating-disorder/