Most people regard eating disorders as an issue that affects only those with vain ideas about personal appearance. Nothing can be further from the facts, in my opinion as a retired natural nutritionist who saw many clients with eating disorders.
Eating disorders usually are thought of as being bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating. In my opinion, there is much more involved in what I would prefer to designate as an “eating disorder syndrome” because there are other contributing factors to the condition, which have to be addressed for successfully overcoming what can become a life-threatening condition. Several pop culture personalities have succumbed to eating disorders. Probably the most famous celebrity who died from complications caused by anorexia was the singer Karen Carpenter. 
Wikipedia’s list includes four fashion models. Personally, I think the fashion industry ought to steer away from gaunt-looking women as models of fashion and the personification of femininity. Apparently, there is some talk, along with movement, in that direction. Former Vogue editor Kirstie Clements discusses what she came to realize about the fashion industry models’ problems with food and eating in this article.
February 23 to March 1, 2014 has been designated as National Eating Disorders Week. Before I relate my concerns about eating disorders that may not be recognized nor dealt with, may I steer readers to an excellent article by Robert Glatter, MD, “National Eating Disorders Week: How Parental Behavior May Impact A Child’s Body Image.”
So, what really is an eating disorder? In my opinion as a natural nutritionist, there are various personality traits that add to and complicate nutritional status in the human body which, in turn, affect what’s commonly called Body Mass Index (BMI). The U.S. National Institutes of Health has the website “Calculate Your Body Mass Index,” which I encourage readers to check out. Why? Because overweight also is an eating disorder for many, but not all.
My idea of an eating disorder includes any fact or fallacy that abnormally influences an individual’s eating style, habits, or nutritional content. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
1. Foregoing breakfast for whatever reason. Breakfast actually is the most important meal of the day as it sets up body metabolism for a 16-hour day, especially the ups and downs of blood sugar metabolism.
2. Disliking certain foods, e.g., vegetables, so as not to eat them and thereby depriving the body of necessary nutrients, i.e., fiber, vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and antioxidants – for starters.
3. Eating the same foods or following the same dietary routines daily which, often leads to a form of malnutrition at cellular level – even if one is overweight.
4. Indulging in “comfort foods” i.e., usually high-carbohydrate junk foods, as the normal diet.
5. Or, alternatively, eating health-food-store-junk-foods, which sounds like an oxymoron when, in reality it refers to eating healthy snacks from health food stores/supermarkets thinking they are a better food plan.
6. Becoming what I call “…holics” e.g., alcoholics, breadoholics, chocoholics, pizzaholics, sugarholics, and workaholics, i.e., when you don’t eat nutritiously because you forego the time to prepare nutritious foods for lunch and/or dinner.Other Factors to Consider
A. Eating to calm your nerves or as a reward. Compulsive eating behavior needs to be addressed professionally, plus nutritionally using proper diet and nutraceuticals.
B. Overuse of alcohol needs to be checked and brought into line because alcohol negatively impacts several physiological conditions, especially the liver’s efficiency and the capability for certain B vitamins to be made in the human intestinal tract.
C. Tobacco use has a negative impact on the intestinal tract where much food nutrient assimilation is carried on.Social Factors
D. Peer pressure sometimes can contribute to not sticking with a healthful dietary and ought to be recognized for what it is when it interferes.
E. Product advertising about foods that more likely than not are skewed to contain misinformation, e.g., indicating fruit may be present whereas in reality the ‘fruit’ comes from chemical concoctions with no real fruit in the product.
F. Influences from TV and other media that entice one to purchase certain foods because of catchy slogans, giveaways, or other enticements especially slanted toward children and parents.
G. Lack of nutritional knowledge and/or reliability on processed food industry information that promotes fast food as ‘nutritious’ whereas the information can be skewed favorably toward the product.Weight
H. Overweight by more than 25 pounds is indicative of a serious eating disorder, in my professional opinion. There are several things that must be considered:
i. Food allergies that cause weight gain, especially wheat (‘breadoholics’), dairy products, refined sugar edibles, e.g., soda, particularly diet types 
ii. Nutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, and Omega fatty acids (3,6,9) seriously lacking in order for the body to function healthfully
iii. Self-restricted diet, e.g., high-carbohydrate, fast or junk food diet only, which adds calories but little in nutrients, especially fresh vegetables and roughage
There are various reasons why the western culture, in particular, has eating disorders, in my opinion. Most of the eating problems have roots stemming from lack of proper nutrition information from childhood years onward.iv. Snacking: always - “gnashing”- never-full-feeling usually is due to not eating a properly balanced meal with a correct portion size of protein and a starch, and at least 3 vegetables, plus a salad.
If I were asked to revise the educational system, there are two courses, in particular, I would mandate as necessary: 1) Basic age-appropriate nutrition courses at every grade level through high school and 2) Civics classes starting at fifth grade level through to high school graduation. But no one is asking for my opinion. With 25 million eating disorder sufferers in the United States, someone had better start doing something to change that demographic. One group that’s trying to help is the National Eating Disorders Association.
Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.
Catherine’s latest book, published October 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, available on Amazon.com.
Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.
Two of Catherine’s more recent books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008).