Eating Disorders are psychological disorders where dieting and eating behaviour and thoughts about body shape and weight become a distressing focus of one’s life; often as a way of dealing with underlying unresolved emotional and psychological issues.
Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are the most widely recognized eating disorders. All these can lead to serious health complications and can negatively impact on mood and self-esteem
Eating disorders can affect anyone; males and females of all different age groups and across socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
Nobody chooses to develop and eating disorder; its causation is usually complex and multi-factorial. The illness can become entrenched and habitual and can be very difficult to overcome.
However help is available and people can and do recover! Unfortunately those who do not seek treatment can find their health and happiness seriously compromised. Some people with severe and chronic illness may even die.
Dieting or Disorder?
Dieting is one of the most significant risk factors for the development of an eating disorder. Although dieting is unlikely to ’cause’ an eating disorder, it may be an indication of an unhealthy concern about body weight or shape. Dieting is very common in western societies where thinness is idealized and being different to this ideal is viewed as an indication of undesirable personal flaws, such as laziness or lack of will power.
Determining where ‘normal’ dieting ends and an eating disorder begins can be difficult. If a person bases much of their self-esteem on their ability to lose weight and reorganizes much of their social life around conforming to the ‘rules’ of their diet, their simple dieting may be becoming something more dangerous; they may be at risk of an eating disorder. For a person with an eating disorder, thoughts about food, calories, exercise, shape and weight can take precedence over other thoughts. While many dieters will talk about their diet and their weight loss (or failure to lose weight), people with an eating disorder may fail to acknowledge their weight loss and continue to consider themselves overweight when they appear underweight to others.