An eating disorder is when someone begins eating too much, or when someone begins to avoid eating. This affects one's mental and physical health. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two of the most well known eating disorders today. Eating disorders affect 5-7% of American women, and only a small percent of men are affected.
Eating disorders involve more than just food. Many people with eating disorders are very sad and feel alone. They get depressed and do not want to eat in front of other people. They might use food as a way to cope, or they might restrict their food intake as a means of control. They might eat a lot of food in a very short period of time. They might throw up their food because they feel guilty. They might eat very little because they want to lose weight, even if they are already dangerously underweight (weighing less than what it is considered healthy). Even if they are underweight, they might see themselves as very fat. Many people with eating disorders suffer physical complications, like malnutrition (not getting enough nutrients that the body needs to be healthy), or electrolyte imbalances (a change in the amount of elements such as sodium or potassium that causes problems in the body's ability to work properly). Eating disorders can cause death.