Control has been a defining characteristic of eating disorders since anorexia nervosa was first described in the 18th-century medical annals. Within the context of eating disorders, control is the exercise of power over eating not based on physical appetite or bodily needs but rather on a desire to counter an underlying sense of helplessness and ineffectiveness. An individual who has an eating disorder controls all aspects of eating including the type of food, when and where it is eaten, and how it is eaten to suppress painful feelings, needs, and dreams for the future. Because of the pervasiveness of this characteristic in all eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating), patients, family members, and treatment professionals need to understand its central role ...

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