Eating disorders are complex and non discriminatory, meaning they can occur at any age, gender and background. There is no singular cause and it may be that you do not have all the symptoms of one singular clinical diagnosis.
It is thought that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) estimates around 11% of those affected by an eating disorder are male. It is thought that 10% of those with eating disorders have anorexia, 40% have bulimia and the other 50% are experiencing disordered eating and binge eating disorder (BED).
Eating disorders often start from a plan to make a positive change around health and lifestyle but can quickly become a compulsion or something that you feel you can't stop. Although most will develop during adolescence, it is not uncommon for them to develop earlier or later than this; some as young as 6 years of age but also in women in their 60s.
Signs and symptoms
Constantly thinking about and planning food.
Worrying about your weight all the time
Noticing your breathing or heart rate changing (feeling anxious) when around food.
Feeling anxious when others talk about food or meals
Continued weight loss
Feeling like you need to 'get rid' of the food you have eaten
Cutting out treats and snack and not being able to reintroduce them
Having foods that you just cant eat because it makes you worry
Feeling the need to exercise when you might not want to or feeling that you have to exercise to "counteract" what you have eaten
Feeling out of control like you can't stop eating
Feeling of anger when asked to eat
A general feeling of low mood
What can help with Eating disorders
Recovery from an eating disorder without professional support can be trick, but the following things can help.
Find support Making changes can be difficult when they impact your mood. It is important to have the support of friends and family as well as experienced professionals.
Plan ahead If food is making you worry, its a good idea to plan ahead so that you know what the expectation is. What are you eating? Where are you having it? What time are you having it? This will help others around you to support you in the right way too.
Distractions If eating is very difficult or you feel like you might not be able to stop eating, having a distraction and things to do after meals may help to manage these thoughts and associated feelings.
Seek professional help Eating disorders are very serious and can cause long term health complications and in some cases death.
Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e): A Survival Kit for Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorders by Ulrike Schmidt and Janet Treasure
Overcoming Binge Eating by Christopher Fairburn
Overcoming Body Image Problems including Body Dysmorphic Disorder: A Self-help Guide using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by David Veale, Rob Willson, and Alex Clarke
Statistics taken from beateatingdisorders.org.uk (2018)