Do I have an eating disorder?
For someone to have an eating disorder, it must mean there is such a thing as normal eating. How can we define normal eating when there is such a wide range of eating styles? From eating for comfort, or eating very little because you feel depressed – when do such eating styles become dysfunctional and become an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is not simply an extreme diet or a lifestyle choice. It is something that can take over a person’s life, and as a result, it requires intervention and therapy to recover.
At the heart of most eating disorders is the core theme of over-evaluation of a) shape and b) weight and your want to control it. The want to control it is so strong that you judge your self-worth largely or even exclusively, in terms of controlling your shape and your weight.
Eating Disorder – warning signs to look for.
To prevent disordered eating from becoming a fully-fledged eating disorder, it is vital to spot the early signs. If you have an eating disorder, you may find yourself denying you have a problem and doing your best to hide any signs from friends and family. Warning signs of an eating disorder include eating behavioural changes, psychological reactions to food as well as changes in physical appearance. The list below is by no means exhaustive as each eating disorder can vary greatly and no two people will behave in the exact same way. However common signs include:
- Significant weight loss.
- Continued dieting when a declared weight goal has been achieved.
- Intense fear of gaining weight.
- Distorted body image – complaining of being fat when clearly they are very thin.
- Excuses about eating out.
- Loss of menstrual period.
- Moodiness, impatience, rudeness and secretiveness.
- Fad dieting with poor nutrition, or becoming vegan.
- Overeating without appearing to gain weight.
- Leaving the table after meals to go to the bathroom.
- Hoarding food.
- Food missing in the house, pretending it is not you.
- Excessive exercise – feeling guilty if you miss a day.
- Weight fluctuations.
- Depression, anger or anxiety.
Binge Eating Disorder
- Always on and off diets.
- Eat the “bad food” today – start the diet tomorrow…or Monday!
- Weight gain while appearing to eat sensibly.
- Erratic eating habits, e.g. missing meals especially breakfast in someone who used to eat it.
- Depression and moodiness.
Did any of these resonate with you?
Eating Disorders in Men and Boys
The above symptoms are not exclusive to females! Men also suffer from eating disorders and body dissatisfaction too. The physical aspirations of men differ from women. Many men aspire to be fit, athletic, lean and muscular, while women aspire to be slim and thinner. Just because the physical aspirations of males and females are different, it doesn’t mean they don’t suffer with weight and shape controlling behaviours that lead to an eating disorder. Unfortunately many men perceive this is a “women’s illness” and don’t seek help. Eating disorders are not just “something girls get”. If any of the above resonate with you please get in touch, Rachel can help.
Recovery – food is and is not the issue!
Recovery from an eating disorder is when:
- You can accept your body size and shape and no longer have an unhealthy relationship with food or exercise.
- You won’t use eating disorder behaviours (restricting, binging, purging, laxatives, exercise) to deal with, distract from or cope with other problems.
- You can challenge the voices in your head that create destructive patterns of eating.
- You don’t compromise your health or
your self-esteem to:
- Look a certain way
- Be a certain clothes size
- Or be a particular number on the scale
How Therapy Works?
One size doesn’t fit all. Treatment is different for each eating disorder and unique to each person. Rachel works with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Emotional Eating and ARFID. There are some universal aspects of treatment for each eating disorder, while others are more specific.
Some of the universal aspects of therapy include working on the physical side of the eating disorder, which includes nutritional rehabilitation. There are also psychological factors affecting your control of food, for example you might be eating or restricting to manage stress, anxiety, depression and to deal with your feelings. Even the way you think about food can affect your behaviour, for example “well I’ve blown it, I may as well keep eating”. Rachel will work with you to help you overcome and break these old thought patterns and habits and help you find new ways of solving your problems, other than with food. For more detail see the treatments page.
Recovery from an eating disorder is possible, regardless of how long you may have been struggling with it. You may be feeling isolated, frustrated, shameful or lonely but you are no longer alone. Rachel will work to uncover what is fuelling your difficult relationship with food. She will help you discover your core issues around food and create healthier relationships with yourself and your body. Rachel is here to help. Recovery is possible.