Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder?

Over 1.6 million people in the UK are affected by eating disorders and can affect people of any age and gender.  An eating disorder is when someone develops an unhealthy attitude to food which takes over their life and makes them unwell.  Eating disorders present themselves in many different ways and there are a number of different types.  However, a feature that connects them is that sufferers judge their self-worth or value almost exclusively in terms of their weight and shape.  As a result, they are preoccupied with thoughts about their shape and weight and the avoid weight gain and strive to be thin.  Various behaviours designed to control body weight are also a feature of eating disorders, these include:

  • Extreme dieting
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Misuse of purgatives or diuretics
  • Vigorous exercising
  • Negative perception of own body
  • Excessive weight monitoring
  • Anxiety about eating
  • Worry about weight and body image

What are the most common types of eating disorders?

  • Anorexia nervosa – People who suffer from anorexia often try to keep their weight down by not eating enough food and often have obsessive, ritualistic or otherwise unhealthy behaviours around food.  They often have an intense fear of weight gain and may also have a distorted image of their bodies, thinking they are too fat when in fact they are underweight.
  • Bulimia nervosa – A person with bulimia nervosa will frequently binge eat, where they eat a large amount of food in a short period of time.  Binges often feel out of the person’s control and result in feelings of guilt, shame and low mood.  This results in the person engaging in compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, exercising and misuse of purgatives and diuretics.
  • Binge eating disorder – A person with binge eating disorder will frequently eat a large amount of food in a short period of time.  Similarly, to bulimia binges are followed by feelings of guilt, shame and low mood.  Unlike bulimia, those with binge eating disorder will not engage in compensatory behaviours such as purging.

Depending on your individual needs we will work with you to manage your symptoms and identify underlying causes to your difficulties.  Based on the severity of symptoms, some cases will require medical support in which case we would recommend that you see your GP.  We will assist in this process if required and work closely with your GP to ensure that you get the necessary care.

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