It is common to be concerned with our appearance, what we eat and how much we exercise. The media is known to play a key role in these concerns where we often see and hear messages about healthy eating, dieting, exercise and beauty regimes as well as seeing images of thin and attractive people. An eating disorder is when these concerns, particularly around weight and shape, have a significant detrimental impact upon a person’s life.
Eating disorders involve difficulties around eating habits which can include restricting how much food is eaten, following strict rules, binge eating, being preoccupied with food and vomiting after eating. Exercise can become excessive and obsessive where a person may feel very guilty if they do not exercise. Other behaviours which can characterise eating disorders are using laxatives and diuretics.
These eating habits and behaviours can have a significant impact upon all aspects of a person’s life. In particular, they can lead to people becoming withdrawn, emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression and they can have a detrimental impact upon a person’s physical wellbeing in the short and long term. In severe cases eating disorders can even lead to death. If you feel you have eating difficulties we advise that you see your G.P for them to assess your physical wellbeing.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are various eating disorder diagnoses which will now be outlined:
- Restricting the amount of food eaten and what is eaten
- Excessively exercising
- Strong fear of gaining weight and ideal weight/shape is much lower than what would be healthy
- Being significantly underweight (usually a BMI below 17.5)
- Significant loss of weight
- Holds a distorted view of their body e.g. seeing oneself as bigger than they actually are
- Binge eating which involves eating a large amount of food in a discrete period of time and a sense of feeling out of control (e.g. struggling to stop)
- Taking actions to prevent weight gain e.g. vomiting, excessively exercising, using laxatives and diuretics, extreme dieting
- How a person views themselves is largely based upon weight and shape
Binge Eating Disorder:
- Eating large amounts of food, often quickly, even when not hungry and when feeling full
- Sometimes eating in secret
- Feeling guilty and ashamed about food eaten
Some people experience eating difficulties which do not quite fit into these three different categories; this is termed Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.
At Therapy Central we can help people with all of these eating difficulties. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a therapy approach shown to be helpful for many people with eating difficulties and so your therapist is likely to draw upon this approach if deemed suitable.