What is an Eating Disorder?
The National Health Service (NHS) defines an eating disorder as, “an unhealthy attitude to food, which can take over your life and make you ill.” This can include eating too much or too little and obsessing over your weight and body shape. Eating disorders can affect anyone despite their age, gender, ethnicity, or background.
Types of Eating Disorder:
Anorexia, or Anorexia Nervosa, is a condition where an individual loses weight due to limiting how much they eat/drink. Along with this, an individual may over- exercise, make themselves sick, or use laxatives as a means of removing eaten food. Someone with anorexia may go through cycles of consuming lots of food, then purging. Anorexia may occur as a result of someone’s unhappiness with their weight and body shape, leading to a deep fear of gaining weight.
Bulimia, or Bulimia Nervosa, is a serious mental health condition where an individual may eat large quantities of food (bingeing) and then compensate for the over-eating through vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or over-exercising (purging.) Although there are many reasons as to why someone may develop bulimia, it is important to remember that it may not be due to food itself. Treatment should address the underlying thoughts and feelings that cause the behaviour.
When someone’s symptoms do not exactly match with the expected behavioural, psychological and physical symptoms of Anorexia, BED and Bulimia, they are diagnosed with OSFED (other specified Feeding or Eating Disorder.) OSFED accounts for the highest percentage of eating disorders. It is just as serious as Anorexia, BED and Bulimia and deserves just as much treatment.
Eating Disorder Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious mental health condition where an individual eats large amounts of food without feeling like they’re in control of what they’re doing. BED is not when someone is “overindulging” as binges are often very distressing. Sometimes, the individual feels disconnected from what they’re doing and may feel disgusted, ashamed, or guilty after the binge.
ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), previously known as Selective Eating Disorder, is a condition where an individual avoids certain types of food which results in significant weight loss. It is not, and should not be referred to as “picky- eating” as ARFID can be caused by many things, such as:
- Sensitivity to taste, texture, smell, or appearance of a certain type of food
- An individual having had a distressing experience with food, such as choking or vomiting, leading to fear and anxiety around food or eating.
- A result of low interest in eating.
- Eating disorders are very serious, and it is important they are treated as soon as possible for a high chance of a full recovery. Check out Beat’s Website for more information & helplines.
– Helpline: 0808 801 0677
– Studentline: 0808 801 0811
– Youthline: 0808 801 071
- Eating Disorder Hope website provides a list of worldwide eating disorder treatment & resources available in your area.
- Talk to family, friends, teachers, school, your local doctors, or whoever you’re comfortable with.
- Remember: You are not alone.