LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- National Eating Disorder Awareness Week began Sunday.
Sheryl Gora-Bollom, a therapist in Gundersen Lutheran Hospital's behavioral medicine department, said eating disorders are typically broken down into three categories.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by inadequate eating. Females who suffer from anorexia can even stop menstruating in severe cases. The condition can also lead to osteoporosis.
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by cycles of binge eating and a subsequent purge -- whether through forced vomiting or excessive exercise.
Gora-Bollom said it's common for all of us to over eat once in a while, but that binge eating two or three times a week is a red flag.
She added the third category of eating disorders, or NOS, standing for not otherwise specified, encompasses the largest number of people.
Gora-Bollom said people who fit some but not all the characteristics of anorexia or bulimia would fall into this category.
"Most people think of a really limited age range for eating disorders -- typically high school and college students," she said.
"But really we're seeing people that are young coming in with some eating disorder issues, we've diagnosed seven, eight or nine-year old patients with eating disorders," Gora-Bollom said. "We've also had people in their 30s and 40s with onset of eating disorders or people who have just gone untreated."
Gora-Bollom said she recommends households sit down together for dinner, even if not every night, so that family members can keep an eye on each other's eating habits.
She also said anyone with an eating disorder or suspected eating disorder should see a physician.
She also recommended http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ as a good source of information.
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