Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupt normal body function and daily activities. Eating disorders are one of the most complex of all DSM-IV diagnoses, and lead to unmanageability in life every bit as severe as drug addiction and alcoholism.
The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is "eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)," which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.
When holistic eating disorder treatment is discussed, integrative medicine must be considered at the same time. Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It makes use of all therapies, both conventional and alternative.
In the past ten years, integrative medicine centers have opened across the country. There are currently 44 academic medical centers that are members of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine. Among these medical centers are Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, University of Arizona, Duke, and Stanford.
by Jeanne Rust, PhD
An eating disorder is many things to different people. When I attended a meeting last spring with the on-staff nutritionists at the University of Arizona Student Health Center, I heard one of the most interesting explanations of “What Is an Eating Disorder.” The woman who was speaking talked about a continuum where at one end was the normal eater and at the other end of the continuum was a clinical eating disorder. She drew a straight line on the board with normal eating at one end and the eating disorder at the other. In the middle there was a huge range of possibilities for people who had food issues or any kind of difficulties.