- Are you concerned that someone you care about might be suffering from an eating disorder?
- Would you say that your relationship with food is healthy?
- Are you happy with your own body?
- Do you accept yourself just the way you are?
I decided to write this article in order to give you an insight on what a person with an eating disorder might be experiencing. If you can relate to this article, don’t hesitate to talk to someone if you need to!
An eating disorder is like an elephant in the room..
You know that something is wrong but you are not sure what it is exactly. On top of that, you don’t seem to find anything that could help with the present situation.
People might confront you awkwardly , ask random questions, worry or simply have absolutely no clue about what is really going on. The sad thing is that the number of eating disorders is sky-rocketing among women and men! Yes, between 1995 and 2005 the prevalence of disordered eating behaviours doubled among both sexes.
What clues might indicate an eating disorder?
- Weight changes
- Obsession with food
- Picky or compulsive habits towards foods and meals
- Large amounts of foods disappearing (it might not be the cat after all…)
- Obsession with body appearance or weight
- Menstrual cycles changes
- Sensitivity to cold
- Changes in social interactions
- Changes in clothing style
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Inability to concentrate
- Excessive physical training
- Excessive time spent in the bathroom
If the relationship with food doesn’t feel right, most probably it isn’t.
Lucky nowadays there are more and more information and support available. Here are a few tips that might help you or someone you care about.
- Like people, eating disorders come in different forms and shapes. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, EDNOS, binging eating disorders, orthorexia.. (See definitions at the end of the article). You don’t necessarily need to tick a box to know that something is not OK between you and your food.
- Eating disorders = vicious circles. It is not only about food choices and eating. Many psychological and/or physiological factors can be involved. It is important to be honest with yourself and understand why in the first place you started these unhealthy behaviours. Once you realize why you do this to yourself, it becomes easier to recover and forget about it…. for good.
- The person might believe that they are in control and just fine. It will only be for a short period of time. You soon develop compensatory behaviours. Your body will get used to this and you will keep finding other ways to hurt yourself.
- Life is dark with an eating disorder. You doubt things will ever get better. When you are not nourishing your body properly, you don’t have enough energy to cope with things: physically and mentally. You would not believe how eating ‘positive’ foods can change all of that and so quickly!
- You feel lonely. You might believe that no one really understands you and most probably it is true. A lot of people believe that people suffering from eating disorders are just looking for attention or that is a disease for poor little rich people in developed countries. Eating disorders are real and a form of mental illness. You might not find it easy to talk to your family or best friends about it. Do not hesitate to reach someone who has been trained or experienced a similar condition. They will be able to advise you and just opening up might already make you feel better. Find someone you trust to assist you in the assessment or recovery process. Not every treatment protocol will work for everyone so it is important to find what works the best for each individual.
- Don’t think that people affected by an eating disorder are weak. Many are very strong-minded, some say stubborn, perfectionist and extremely driven. They want the best and they might be ready to go a bit too far for that.
- Don’t wait too long to seek help. Your body can cope with a lot of things but once it’s too late it might have disastrous consequences on your health. Anorexia nervosa has a very bad prognosis sadly with too many suicides (1 in 5 premature deaths between people living with this eating disorder).
- It takes time to heal. It might take a few years to fully recover and learn how to function normally. Basic things like knowing when you are really hungry or stopping eating when you are finally full might slowly come back. There is always a risk you can relapse and wonder if you will ever see the end of this situation. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You learn a bit more about who you are everyday. Your eating disorder might linger in the back of your mind for quite some time but will vanish little by little.
- Unlike smoking, you cannot quit this bad habit cold turkey. We all have to eat everyday, several times a day… When your relationship with food isn’t right, each meal is a battle. You would not believe how hard it is to go food shopping or staying at home with a fridge full of food… It is not easy but it definitely gets better once you decided it was time to recover.
Full recover is possible and you can live happily ever after… an eating disorder!
For help and more information do not hesitate to contact the Butterfly Foundation’s website dedicated to help individuals with eating disorders: Butterfly Foundation.
If I can help anyone, I am also available for a little chat !
If you prefer to read about body acceptance and health goals, check my latest publication: 10 Ways to Reach your Health Goals (link opening on a new page and different website)
A couple of definitions
- EDNOS: Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. An eating disorder that does not meet fully the criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
- Orthorexia: An obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy
A couple of references
- Better Health Channel 2011, Eating disorders, viewed 22 November 2013, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Eating_disorders
- Eating Disorders Victoria 2013, Eating disorders, viewed 22 November 2013, http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/key-research-a-statistics