Alyssa Mandel has owned and operated the Mandel Center of Arizona in Scottsdale for more than 12 years. In that time, Alyssa Mandel has treated many patients with such eating disorders as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Although they may present very differently, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa both involve unhealthy and maladaptive behaviors regarding food. Both are approximately 10 times more common in women than in men, and both typically feature increasing worry about weight.
In patients with anorexia, this worry manifests as fastidiously restricted eating. Individuals with this disorder continuously reduce their food intake in an effort to lose weight, even if they have reached a dangerously low weight considering height and age. Preoccupation with weight may also present in the patient with anorexia as fastidious exercise, frequent weight-checking, and hiding the body with loose-fitting clothing.
Patients with bulimia, by contrast, respond to their emotional and mental distress by binge eating. They acquire and consume large quantities of food and eat much more than a normal meal’s worth, most often secretively. The individual with bulimia often feels that he or she cannot control this binge eating, despite the physical discomfort and feelings of shame and depression that follow.
A person with bulimia will typically seek to resolve this discomfort by ridding himself or herself of the vast quantities of food eaten, either by vomiting or through use of a laxative. This process of binging and purging becomes cyclical and compulsive, despite its unpleasant effects on body and mind.