What is anorexia?

Anorexia: A technical definition

  1. Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
  2. Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight.
  3. Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of the current low body weight.
  1. Consuming less than the amount of energy your body needs, causing your weight to be “significantly low” (we’ll talk about what this means later).
  2. Having the intense fear of weight gain/being fat.
  3. Hyper-focusing on weight and/or denying the gravity of your current low weight situation.

Warning signs

  • Preoccupation with calories, weighing self, and/or dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods or food groups (i.e. no carbohydrates, no dairy, no fat, etc)
  • Denial of feeling hungry
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Comments about feeling “fat” or “overweight”
  • Avoidance of mealtimes and social gatherings involving food
  • Withdrawal and isolation, increased secrecy
  • Inflexible thinking
  • Need for control
  • Rigid exercise regimen maintained even when sick or injured

Physical complications

  • Loss of menstrual period in females, which can lead to osteoporosis (bone disease)
  • Slowed digestion and stomach cramps, constipation, and/or diarrhea
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Cold intolerance, poor circulation in hands and feet
  • Loss of hair
  • Impaired immune function
  • Severe electrolyte imbalances
  • Depletion of body’s stored sugar (can be fatal)
  • Slow resting heart rate (the body trying to conserve energy) which can eventually lead to cardiac arrest

Common misconceptions

How anorexia helps people

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Ice cream lover. Dog mom. Registered dietitian. Downtown HTX city dweller.

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Abbie Joy Womack

Abbie Joy Womack

Ice cream lover. Dog mom. Registered dietitian. Downtown HTX city dweller.

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