Eating Disorders 101

As we move into 2016, it is a perfect time for us to challenge our assumptions and broaden our knowledge about the serious mental illnesses known as eating disorders.

Eating disorders are not to be overlooked – they have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness in this country. Eating disorders can lead to serious physical and psychological complications and impact normal functioning, processing, and daily activities. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They impact people from all age, ethnicity, and gender groups.

Eating disorders are complex, multi-causal mental illnesses that impact an estimated 30 million people in the United States. And these numbers do not reflect those who struggle with disordered eating behaviors and attitudes, or body dissatisfaction.

Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices or fads, and instead are real, crippling conditions that have serious consequences for one’s physical, emotional, and mental health. The three most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder.

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Some symptoms include, but are not limited to: preoccupation with food, weight, or one’s body; compulsive exercise; withdrawal; constant fear of gaining weight; refusal to eat except for tiny portions, or only drinking calorie free drinks; lack of menstruation; eating alone or in secret; eating large amounts of food in short periods of time; and abuse of diet pills or laxatives.

Eating disorders are serious, and those suffering from them need professional help. There are a variety of treatment options available that range from intensive inpatient treatment to local support groups. At TriCity Family Services in Geneva, we offer a comprehensive, outpatient, family-based approach to treating eating disorders that recognizes parents as the best resource for their child’s/adolescent’s recovery. We also offer a support group for parents.

Eating disorders are treatable. There is hope, and the more that we educate ourselves regarding eating disorders, the stronger our united fight against these illnesses will be. Here is to a 2016 filled with knowledge, health, and happiness.

Tegan Pfortmiller, MA, LPC – TriCity Family Services

Info Corner

For more information about eating disorders and their treatment, please visit or call 630-232-1070.