What Are Eating Disorders?

Eating disorders are eating habits or behaviors that adversely affect one’s physical and emotional health, and can negatively affect daily life.  The most prevalent eating disorders are bulimia nervosa (also called as bulimia) and anorexia nervosa (also called anorexia). Eating disorders generally reflect abnormal or excessive focus on body weight, body shape, and food, and can cause severe nutritional deficiencies. Eating disorders can also affect the digestive tract, teeth, mouth, the skeletal system, and the cardiovascular system.

Types of Eating Disorders


Anorexia nervosa (anorexia) is an eating disorder characterized by an extreme fear of weight gain and a misperception of body shape or body weight (body dysmorphia).  Anorexia is associated with excessive restriction of calorie intake, which is often accompanied by excessive exercise, the use of laxatives, or intentional vomiting after a meal. Effort to lose weight, even when already underweight, is common with anorexia and can lead to life-threatening malnutrition.


Bulimia nervosa (bulimia) is an eating disorder that involves binge eating followed by purging (forced vomiting) of the food due to guilt or fear of gain weight from the food eaten.  This is often the result of excessive focus on body shape or body weight.  Those with bulimia often eat little or no food during the day, which exacerbates the cycle of bingeing and purging. Bulimia often is also accompanied by excessive exercise, the use of laxatives, or other methods to eliminate the excess calories consumed. Those with bulimia may be judge themselves harshly for perceived flaws in body shape or body weight.

Treatment of Eating Disorders

At Cascade Integrative Medicine, we offer nutrition support for anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders. Our goal is to help bring balance back to eating by helping patients normalize their eating behaviors. We strive to create a safe space for our clients to be able to talk freely about food and their emotions. While underlying thoughts and emotions remain at the core of a person’s illness and recovery, their relationship with food, eating and nutrition can play a major role in inhibiting or promoting the recovery process. Most of our clients are already working with a therapist, and if they are not, we can help them find a therapist who specializes in eating disorders.

Eating normalization includes:

  • Eating adequately to meet the body’s daily nutritional needs
  • A balanced and sustainable relationship with food, free from negative or distorted thoughts about oneself
  • Listening to and trusting your body’s internal cues to determine hunger and fullness