What are they?
An eating disorder is generally described as an unhealthy relationship with food. Commonly associated with a situation where you believe you are fat when others say you are thin. It is a mental health issue and can cause serious physical and psychological problems.
It is found most commonly in females and more so in those aged between 12 and 20 years.
The most common eating disorders are:-
- Anorexia, when someone deliberately limits how much they eat and can use other behaviours to lose weight or prevent weight gain such as doing lots of exercise, making themselves sick, or using medication.
- Bulimia, when someone is caught in a cycle of eating large amounts then trying to compensate for that by making themselves sick, taking medication, fasting, or exercising excessively in order to control their weight.
- Binge eating disorder, this is when a person eats excessive amounts of food at one time without feeling like they have any control
What causes an eating disorder?
The causes of an eating disorder are often very complex, they can be genetic, so someone else in the family may have had it. It can be used as a coping mechanism for anything stressful, such as family problems, school issues, relationship breakups.
- Feeling anxious, or having low self-esteem.
- Feeling pressured into being slim, like being a ballet dancer for instance.
- Being bullied can lead to an eating disorder.
These are just a few of the causes, there are many more.
Recognising you have an eating disorder
Many teenagers go on diets, but if you have an eating disorder it generally goes much further than just dieting and there may be other traits that happen as well. You may skip meals, or make yourself sick, you may take diet pills or laxatives. Some people exercise excessively.
You may have strict rules about certain foods you will and won’t eat. Sometimes avoiding putting yourself in situations where you may have to eat a lot. Some will visit the bathroom a lot. It often goes hand in hand with feeling low and depressed, and you may also notice that you are cold a lot of the time.
You may possibly feel like you are fat, when those around you tell you that you are slim.
You will likely feel obsessed with food, talking about it, drawing it, making up recipes.
Recognising an eating disorder in others
It is really hard to recognise an eating disorder in others but there are some signs that you can look out for and some of these include:-
- missing meals
- saying they feel fat, when in fact they are not
- weighing themselves all the time
- cooking complicated meals for others but not actually eating themselves
- feeling uncomfortable eating in public
- feeling cold a lot
Getting treatment and advice
If an eating disorder is not treated it can have a devastating effect on all areas of someone’s life, emotionally. Physically it can in fact lead to death.
It is essential that the person wants to recover. There are specialist services available to support the recovery.
To help recovery it is essential that you are supported to receive the right nutrition to allow your body to function properly in terms of both your physical and mental health. Food should be thought of as the “medicine” you need to recover. To work alongside this medicine, there are various therapies available and you will be offered the most appropriate one for you following a period of assessment.
An eating disorder cannot be tackled alone so you would need to speak to your doctor to be referred on.
There is an extremely helpful website that you can visit to find out more information and get support online CLICK HERE to find this website.