Anorexia Nervosa

anorexia nervosa plate

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a distorted body image that results in self-starvation and can lead to serious health issues and even death. This disorder is particularly prevalent among teenage girls, although it does affect boys and adults to a lesser degree.

Things to look for if you think someone you love may have this eating disorder:

*Distorted body image such as thinking they are fat, when they are not.

*Obsession with fat and losing weight when not overweight or even underweight

*Irrational fear of gaining weight, even when underweight.

*Amenorrhea, which is a missing period at least three months in a row.

*May have unusual food behaviors such as cutting food into very small pieces or being unable to eat a normal portion of food.

*Binging and purging behavior using laxatives or self-induced vomiting.

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious illness that can kill you.


  • Malnutrition
  • Muscle wasting—including heart muscle
  • Electrolyte depletion and imbalance
  • Stunted growth and development in teens
  • Poor resistance to sickness and disease due to a compromised immune system
  • Digestive disturbance and discomfort
  • Insomnia
  • Brain dysfunction
  • Amenorrhea (no menstrual period)
  • Inability to maintain body temperature causing increase in body hair
  • Dry skin
  • Death due to heart attack, liver failure or kidney failure


Each case of anorexia nervosa is unique, and must be handled on an individual basis. Since eating disorders are complex, involving physical, mental and emotional factors, treatment must be a cooperative effort between physicians, therapists and family who can address each of these areas. The weight loss has to be addressed, especially if it has reached a dangerous level, and at the same time, the underlying emotional issues must be understood.


If you suspect someone you love has an eating disorder, please seek professional help as soon as possible.

They're called "habits" for a reason!

Changing long established habits is one of the most difficult things that you will ever do. There may even be underlying reasons why the old, unhealthy habits seem to have so much power over you. If that’s the case, you may need to get professional guidance or therapy to help deal with those issues.

Nevertheless, the matchless benefits of eating healthy are so powerful, that I hope you will take the time to learn what eating behaviors will lead to a healthy life, and then commit to making those changes, whatever it takes.

Click here to go from Anorexia Nervosa Definition page to Healthy Eating Support home page.

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