A change in eating habits on occasions is normal. However, if you find your relationship with food is unhealthy or dysfunctional most of the time, you could have an eating disorder.
What causes eating disorders?
Unfortunately there is not a straight forward answer, however, research suggests eating disorders could be linked to biological, environmental, social, and cultural factors.
Eating disorders for some people are a way of managing difficult feelings or situations in their lives and therefore, it is not really about food. The behaviours associated with eating disorders can vary from limiting food intake, eating large portions of food in one sitting, finding ways to dispose of food by engaging in unhealthy behaviour (such as induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, or excessive exercise). A person could use one or a combination of all these behaviours.
Early intervention is advisable when suffering with an eating disorder. Research indicates that recovery is possible in 80% of individuals when they seek help and support.
There are different types of eating disorders. I have listed some of the more common ones below and a belief explanation
· Anorexia Nervosa - control weight gain, by not eating enough food, excessive exercising, restoring to unhealthy behaviour to get rid of food. Due to the complexities of anorexia (as this disorder can result in death) it usually requires medical support and for that reason. Apple Tree Therapy does not take on severe cases of anorexia for therapy.
· Bulimia Nervosa – losing control around the amount of food consumed and then taking steps to get rid of the food to avoid weight gain such as the unhealthy behaviours outlined above.
· Binge Eating Disorder (BED) involves eating large portions of food resulting in feeling uncomfortably full.
· Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED) is said to be the most common of the eating disorders and it just as serious as the other disorders outlined above. (OSFED) is diagnosed when a person’s eating disorder does not fit into the criteria of the above three main eating disorders.
It is not uncommon to go from one eating disorder to another if the individual does not seek help for their disordered eating.
Not sure if you have an eating disorder? Some common signs:
Do you find you eat in secret?
Do you spend a lot of money on food?
Do you buy specific food to eat in one sitting?
Do you find you lose control around the amount you eat?
Are your thoughts preoccupied by food?
Have you gained or lost a lot of weight?
Do you wear clothes to hide your shape?
Do you have concerns about losing control around food?
Do you find you make excuses to not eat around other people?
Talking therapy can help individuals to explore thoughts, feelings and behaviour that maintain the cycle. It can help identify root causes and triggers. Treatment plans can also be created to help manage the disordered eating behaviour, develop techniques and healthy coping skills, gain psychological resilience, improve body image and set goals for the further.
GP intervention may also be required depending on the severity of the disorder.
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