We can all have short periods of either over eating or controlling what we eat in order to lose weight, perhaps during times of stress, or to improve our health and fitness. We do not feel consumed or distressed by the thought of eating or food, and can still continue to enjoy what we eat without feel excessive guilt or anxiety. We are usually open with others about wanting to diet for a specific reason, and we do not eat secretly.
Anyone can develop an eating disorder, although it is more common in young people aged around 15 to 25. Over 1.1 million people in the UK are directly affected by an eating disorder. Research suggests that eating disorders are a complex interplay of physiological, psychological and social/cultural factors.
Anorexia (restrict and control food intake) and Bulimia Nervosa (binge eat and then purge by vomiting or use of laxatives) are both eating disorders, which if untreated may lead to serious consequences.
There are different degrees of severity, but early recognition often results in a higher chance of recovery or significant improvement. Very often the person who has an eating disorder is the last person to recognise or accept they have a problem. Or if they do know they have a problem they will often hide it from others – eating disorders thrive around shame.
Most people suffering with an eating disorder will have very low self-esteem.
Ongoing eating disorders can result in other more complicated medical conditions.
Developing an eating disorder is often about coping with life problems, avoid issues or emotions that are too painful to face. Some people with an eating disorder crave an escape from reality and a need for self-control. Life can feel messy, inconsistent, frightening and erratic.
Anorexia numbs emotions and Bulimia is a way of getting rid of excess emotions.
Counselling may help you recover or regain management over your eating disorder, and uncover any underlying causes. It may help you gain greater self-esteem and manage stressful situations in a different way. It is usually helpful to involve your GP – with your consent and knowledge. Sometimes people want to involve family members, particularly if they are younger, or if still living at home. Partners can also be included in the work. Other people being involved, is something we would decide together and ultimately would be your choice.
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