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Elements in Eating Disorders

Updated: Jan 18

Eating disorders can be extremely serious and can make a person very ill by taking over their lives. Anyone can develop an eating disorder and at any age. It is when someone has an unhealthy view of food and perception of self. Often low self-esteem and low self-worth can exacerbate an eating disorder.

A person with an eating disorder may become fanatical about their intake of food by eating too little or too much. They might also be obsessed with weight and their body shape.

Different Types of Eating Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa: This involves trying to keep weight as low as possible. Obsession with food, by weighing it out, exercise to excess, refusal to eat, purging for weight control, engagement of food rituals and distorted body image.

How can I recover from Anorexia?

Having a treatment plan along with seeing a qualified professional who specialises in this area is the way forward in helping you to reduce and treat anorexia. It can involve having many sessions over several months or years.

Bulimia: This can be eating a lot of food in a short period of time. A person can then make themselves sick (purging) or use laxatives to get rid of food as quickly as possible. Alternatively, they may engage in excessive exercise and become obsessional in this area. They may feel very tense and anxious. Also, it can be difficult to spot someone with Bulimia as they can often act secretly.

Tell-tale sings can be the person feels tired and weak, dental problems due to the acid from persistent purging, bad breath, irregular periods, dry skin and fingernails. Also, bone, bowel and kidney problems.

How can I get help with my Bulimia? Again, it is about seeing the right professional who specialises in this area and carries out an assessment in relation to your eating disorder.

Binge Eating Disorders (BED): This is when a person is constantly eating and not stopping even when they are full, eating very fast as well as often eating alone. Then feeling ashamed, discussed, or guilty afterwards.

How can I stop Binge Eating? Binge eating can be due to an urge off set by other things. One key factor is to try and delay the urge. However, many people find it is not as simple as that and require one to one therapy to help identify their feelings. This entails having regular support over several weeks by seeing a therapist weekly or fortnightly.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): This is when someone avoids certain types of foods, also perhaps restricting how much they eat. Unlike anorexia, concern about weight and shape is not a factor; ARFID may due to reason of sensitivity to texture or perhaps taste of food, Alternatively, it could be a response with food that has been distressing in the past, also a lack of interest in eating.

Other specified feeding or eating disorders (Osfed): This is when the eating disorder can affect healthy relationships with food but don’t fit into the other types of eating disorder exactly. Signs are dramatic - weight loss, avoiding eating with friends and public places.

How can I change in respect of my eating disorder?

This can be very difficult to do solely on your own. Support from loved ones, family and friends can help but very often a person will require intervention from a professional source such as qualified counsellors, psychotherapists, and/or nutritionists.

A recognised form of therapy for eating disorders is CBT or CBT-e in addition family therapy can be helpful to enable understanding for family concerned.

How can I notice if someone I care about has an eating disorder?

· Do you notice that the person is obsessing about food?

· Is there a change in their behaviour?

· Do they disappear to the toilet after mealtimes?

· Have they started exercising excessively?

· Do they have a distorted view of how they look?

· Do you notice they have difficulty concentrating?

· Do they appear tired for a lot of the time?

I have worked in an eating disorder clinic for three years and I have learned a lot in that time seeing clients with various eating disorders, OCD and other issues relating to low self-esteem. I worked with both adults and children supporting them in either short-term therapy for 6 weeks and for some long-term therapy for over a year. I also gained qualifications - Levels 2 and 3 in eating disorders.

In addition, I have also worked with children and young people at CAMHS relating to various issues.

Please get in touch if you would like a free chat/consultation with myself and I can explain the assessment criteria for eating disorders and other issues relating to low self-esteem or OCD.


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