WHAT ARE EATING DISORDERS?

The fact that you are reading this web site probably means that you are concerned about the eating habits of either yourself, or someone you care about.

 

According to ‘Beat’ the UK’s Eating Disorder Charity, approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an Eating Disorder and around a quarter of these are male. Many people however, struggle in silence, as Eating Disorders thrive on secrecy and shame, and often a sufferer will not realise how unwell they actually are. It can often be a parent, friend or relative that begins to notice changes in a person, before they realise themselves that there may be a problem.

 

Some of the physical and behavioural indications of these disorders are described below.

 

Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a severe mental illness which can have long-term physical effects and can be life threatening. Early intervention is important. Some of the common signs of Anorexia include the fear of gaining weight, preoccupation with body weight and a distorted perception of body shape and weight. It usually starts in teenage years, but can become a disorder at any age. Other signs and symptoms are listed below. If you have any thoughts that you or a loved one might be struggling with Anorexia Nervosa, please seek help.

 

Physical symptoms

  • Severe weight loss

  • Difficulty sleeping and tiredness

  • Dizziness

  • Stomach pains

  • Constipation

  • Feeling cold

  • Growth of soft downy fine hair all over the body.

  • Hair falls out

  • Irregular periods or periods stop altogether in females

  • Lack of sexual interest

  • Bloating

  • Physical weakness

  • Low blood pressure

  • Poor circulation 

 

Behavioural symptoms

  • Becomes secretive

  • Change in personality

  • Dieting and avoiding foods that they believe are fattening

  • Counting calories 

  • Missing meals and fasting

  • Avoiding eating socially

  • Hiding food

  • Eating slowly

  • Cutting food into tiny pieces

  • Taking diet or slimming pills

  • Irritability

  • Excessive exercising

  • Laxative use

  • Purging

  • Ritual and obsessive behaviour

  • Lying about eating

  • Trying to please everyone

  • Cooking food for others

  • Wearing baggy clothes

Sufferers of Anorexia Nervosa sometimes talk about having a ‘voice’ in their head, telling them that they don’t deserve to eat or that they are fat and useless. A sufferer may feel that they are in control of their eating, however it can become more and more difficult to ignore the voice in their head.

 

Psychological symptoms

  • Fear of gaining weight

  • Excessive focus on body weight

  • Asognosia, an unawareness or denial that they are ill. Denying or not realising the severity their illness

  • Thinking about food constantly

  • Anxiety

  • Low self esteem

  • Low confidence

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Perfectionism

  • Inability to change


 

Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

Bulimia Nervosa (BN) is a serious mental illness. Sufferers of Bulimia Nervosa are often caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food and then trying to compensate for that overeating by purging. This can take the form of vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting or exercising excessively. Early intervention is important. If you have any thoughts that you or a loved one might be struggling with Bulimia Nervosa, please seek help. 

 

Physical symptoms

  • Sore throat

  • Bad breath and mouth ulcers

  • Stomach pains

  • Irregular periods

  • Dry or poor skin

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Constipation

  • Tooth decay

  • Fluctuation in weight

  • Calluses or scars on the knuckles or hands (caused from putting fingers down throat to induce vomiting)

  • Puffy cheeks

  • Dehydration

  • Fainting

  • Kidney and bowel problems

Behavioural symptoms

  • Eating large quantities of food, eating to the point of physical discomfort and pain.

  • Being sick after binging or eating

  • Alternating between overeating and fasting

  • Taking laxatives, diuretics, diet pills

  • Being secretive or lying

  • Going to the bathroom after meals

  • Excessive exercise

Someone suffering from Bulimia may feel emotional or depressed. They may also feel out of control, have mood swings and be obsessed with dieting.


 

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a mental illness, where a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis. People who binge consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time. Binge eating usually takes place in private with the sufferer feeling like they have no control over their eating. Very often they will experience feeling of guilt and disgust after binging. You may notice behavioural changes in yourself or someone you know before you notice physical symptoms.

 

Physical symptoms

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Weight gain

  • Constipation

  • Bloating

  • Stomach pain

  • Poor skin condition 

 

Behavioural symptoms

  • Purchasing large quantities of food

  • Hoarding food

  • Eating when not hungry

  • Eating when uncomfortable full

  • Avoiding eating around others

  • Social withdrawal and isolation

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

Psychological symptoms

  • High proportion of thoughts are about food

  • A sense of being out of control

  • Low confidence and self esteem

  • Feelings of shame, disgust and guilt after binging 

  • Depression and/or anxiety

  • Feeling numb whilst binging


 

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is an ‘umbrella’ term – it includes a range of different types of difficulty when eating. Someone struggling with ARFID may display a range of symptoms, these may include:

  • Eating a reasonable range of foods but overall having much less food than is needed to stay healthy. 

  • Feeling full after only a few mouthfuls and struggling to eat more.

  • Taking a long time over mealtimes/finding eating a ‘chore’.

  • Finding it difficult to recognise when hungry.

  • Missing meals completely, especially when busy with something else.

  • Sensitivity to aspects of some foods, such as the texture, smell, or temperature. 

  • Appearing to be a “picky eater”.

  • Always having the same meals.

  • Always eating something different to everyone else.

  • Only eating food of a similar colour (e.g. beige).

  • Attempting to avoid social events where food would be present.

  • Being very anxious at mealtimes, chewing food very carefully, taking small sips and bites, etc.

  • Weight loss (or in children, not gaining weight as expected).

  • Developing nutritional deficiencies, such as anaemia through not having enough iron in the diet.

  • Needing to take supplements to make sure nutritional and energy needs are met.

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

If you are diagnosed with OSFED, it does not mean that your condition is any less serious than any other eating disorder, it simply means that your symptoms do not exactly fit the criteria of the symptoms of a recognised Eating Disorder.

CHANGE IS POSSIBLE

You can get in touch via any of the following methods, or alternatively select the ‘contact’ option from the menu at the top of the page.

07980 182118

info@eatingdisordersdevon.co.uk

@eatingdisordersdevon

@eatdisdevon