Eating disorders are serious psychiatric disorders, which usually have their onset in adolescence. Body dissatisfaction and dieting, both common among adolescents, are recognised risk factors for eating disorders. Common causes are gender, conflict, control issues, social norms inside and outside the family.
Some individuals who suffer with eating disorders or disordered eating also have other psychological and social difficulties. Sometimes these other issues start even before an eating disorder develops. Often there will be a complex relationship between these issues and the eating disorder.
Eating disorders are often linked to weight perception and dieting. A common underlying theme is an incorrect weight perception in females and this is widely associated with depressive symptoms, social anxiety, low self-esteem. Eating disorders in males are more commonly associated with an incorrect perception of being underweight and social anxiety.
All these aspects must be considered when overcoming eating disorders.
The therapeutic approach focuses on the role of dysfunctional cognitions (errant thinking). These take the form of automatic thoughts and distorted core beliefs. Cognitive restructuring is effective in overcoming an eating disorder as it addresses these cognitions. This may involve any of the following:
This condition usually involves self starvation, which is based on a fear of eating food particularly food that is believed to be fattening. Sufferers often perceive themselves as fat, no matter how thin they are. It is common that there is denial about the problem accompanied with getting angry with loved ones who express concerns. Many sufferers are afraid to get treatment and are rigid and obsessive with food and exercise. Often paired with a self critical inner voice demanding perfection and obedience followed by withdrawal from normal life and spending a lot of time worrying and thinking about food. Many people develop depression and poor confidence as a consequence.
Anorexia treatment can be lengthy and is forward-looking. It is not just about food and weight, recovery is about building a new relationship with food and with the physical body and shape. It provides support and is also about emotional strengthening, raising self worth and finding better ways of feeling in control.
People suffering with this condition feel out of control where food is concerned. They are desperate to control their weight but eat compulsively at times. Bulimia feels like an addiction, where eating rules your life. Sufferers are fearful of weight gain and feel bad about their body shape. Many are able to conceal their condition and act as if they are confident, but inwardly, their self esteem is low. People who suffer from Bulimia, have conflicting emotions about food; sometimes food feels like a friend and and sometimes like a foe. Consequently they suffer from mood swings, often for no apparent reason and feel depressed, alone and low. These emotions often lead to purging as a way to control their weight.
Bulimia treatment takes time and means developing a new relationship and self-control with food and weight. Help for bulimia also means emotional strengthening, raising self worth and finding better ways of feeling in control without needing to purge. It begins with gaining insight about bulimia and discovering what led to you developing it in the first place. It will provide techniques to help the sufferer manage the mixed feelings about letting it go and by building motivation to change. Another essential element of treatment is nutritional guidance, to end compulsive eating without the need to purge. Emotional strengthening, to manage feelings like stress and unhappiness without turning to food or purging is essential to empower the sufferer to manage bulimic thoughts and obsessions with food whist building a strong sense of self worth and body image healing.
When a person feels out of control around food; constantly nibbles, eats without being hungry or binges this would be diagnosed as an eating disorder. People with this disorder are always on or off diets, but nothing works for them long. Eating rules their life and whatever they eat, is not enough. People who have developed such a disorder, often eat sensibly in public but on their own it goes out of control. They eat a lot in secret and promise to stop compulsive eating, but it somehow doesn’t happen.
Compulsive eating and binge eating can have serious health effects. The main outcomes can include tiredness, lack of energy, diabetes or insulin resistance, poor thyroid function and more.
Binge eating and compulsive eating does not go away without treatment or weight loss. Recovery is possible with the right support. Treatment for compulsive and binge eating starts with discovering what in the past has led to developing this behaviour. It requires motivation to change and must be accompanied by nutritional guidance, to end compulsive eating and manage overeating without the need to go on yet another diet. Therapy will provide techniques to manage stress, unhappiness, constant thoughts and worries about food and weight. It will empower those ready for change to manage lapses so that they can develop a feeling of being in control.