Eating Disorders

We all have to do it - but while for some people, eating is a pleasure, for others the very thought of eating is a source of horror. Newspapers often show shocking pictures of skeletally thin teenage girls 'starving themselves to death', but eating disorders can strike at any age.

Authored by , Reviewed by Dr Hayley Willacy on | Certified by The Information Standard

How do you treat eating disorders?

Dr Sarah Jarvis MBE

Eating disorders all have one thing in common - they all involve problems related to your relationship with food. However, eating disorders are as much or more to do with control (or loss of control) over your body than they are to do with not liking food.

1.25m

people in the UK affected by an eating disorder

Source: Why is anorexia on the rise?

Food is the tool you use to help you cope with emotional distress, or to feel more in control of your life. Sadly, the food-related behaviour that results can fuel your psychological problems. For instance, self-loathing and low self-esteem are common in bulimia and binge eating disorder. You may feel an overwhelming urge to binge, because it gives you temporary relief from these feelings. However, afterwards you may feel even more disgusted with yourself because of your 'weakness' for giving in to the urge to binge.

So eating disorders are classified together because they have two things in common: the first is an unhealthy relationship with food (too little, too much, only the 'right' kind) and the second is the psychological distress which goes with it. Whatever kind of eating disorder you have, it's likely to have a major impact on your life.

Further reading and references

  • ; Eating Disorders Victoria, 2015

  • ; Eating Disorders Victoria, 2016

  • ; Orthorexia.com, 2017

  • ; Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Dept of Health.

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I have had bulimia for 20 yrs, I have managed to stop myself vomitingin the last 2 years, but I cannot control the psychological effects of it. I've gained around 4 stone since I was last actively vomiting in the last 2 years. But the NHS don't offer help for people who aren't …

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